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Googly Goo looks like a roly-poly, self-indulgent brat. All of his Ten Men look just like him. They all look like brats. They look like Santa's Elves gone bad - sycophants to a one, they are, dressed all in blue. They are Blue Meanies with googly eyes and vapid grins. Googly-Goo and his Ten Men don't like naughty children. And they mean to do something about it. And they do.

The text spells it out, short and simple, in poor, ragged verse, no less:

This Googly-Goo, His Ten Men too,
In gowns of blue,
Got together and caught Saint Nick -
Before he knew it -
Bound him, quick.
They stole his sled,
So full of toys, the sled he'd packed for girls and boys!

A page in the book shows Googly-Goo and his Ten Men flying through the air in Santa's sleigh, drawn by Santa's six reindeer. Googly-Goo is blowing a trumpet announcing his evil deed to the world. Where Santa would fly quietly over rooftops with an occasional Ho! Ho! Ho! and softly jingling sleigh bells, and a farewell Merry Christmas, Googly Goo must trumpet his arrival with noisy fanfare! The book also shows Santa tied up. The children are looking out of windows at this madness with horror.

So Googly-Goo - his Ten Men, too,
Hurried along, in gowns of blue,
Still shouting "O ye children bad,
Your Christmas surely will be sad.
You'll get no gifts from old Saint Nick,
Unless you mend your ways right quick!
Then lads and lassies shivered and shook, -
Out from their trundle-beds crept to look
At Googly-Goo, his Ten men too, hurrying on, in gowns of blue.

Harrumph! Kidnapping Santa Claus! What outrage! Does this book end happily? Could it? Haw! Well, in a manner of speaking, I suppose it does. If one doesn't think too much about it.

After warning about the "girls and boys who growl and poke and get angry when others joke", Googly-Goo relents - and releases Santa, for the children have all said their prayers. (I find it so strange and ominous that it is Googly-Goo who hears those prayers.) But Googly-Goo still holds some nefarious power over Santa and gives the jolly old man, who seems none the worse for having been trussed up, some instructions about filling stockings and distributing gifts, harrumph, as if he wouldn't know how.

Even though the children of the world buckled down and said their prayers and promised to be good and obey their parents, the damage had been done. Poor children! The fearful seed was planted. The message was clear. Even Saint Nick, in a world ravaged by a World War was not safe. (it was 1916, after all). If Santa is not safe from depredation and mischief, and kidnapping and trussings, how could mere innocent, helpless children be safe?

The Googly-Goo Xmas message?

Hide and tremble in your trundle-beds, kiddies.

And so to end, let us hie back to Lewis Carroll and his 1867 Christmas message, found in the front of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland:

Lady dear, if Fairies may
For a moment lay aside
Cunning tricks and elfish play,
'Tis at happy Christmas-tide.

We have heard the children say -
Gentle children whom we love -
Long ago, on Christmas Day,
Came a message from above.

Still, as Christmas-tide comes round,
They remember it again -
Echo still the joyful sound
"Peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Yet the hearts must childlike be
Where such heavenly guests abide;
Unto children in their glee,
All the year is Christmas-tide!

Thus forgetting tricks and play
For a moment, Lady dear,
We would wish you, if we may,
Merry Christmas, glad New Year!

On the back cover of Googly-Goo and His Ten Men is this message:

"Santa Claus, smiling, will come your way,
And bring you a better Christmas Day."

Do we dare believe this?


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