Round about now, fear of receiving a lump of coal has built to a crescendo.
For parents, the big concern now is how to keep the kids in line without being able to say “Santa’s watching”, which has being doing the trick nicely for weeks.
Well, the Germans have a word for it, and a surprisingly short one at that: Krampus.
According to tradition in certain parts of Germany and Austria, Santa Claus never bothered giving bags of coal or sacks of potatoes to badly behaved kids, he outsourced all punishment to a hairy, goat-like creature with pointy horns and a tongue like a snake.
While good-cop Santa carried a bag of toys with which to reward little ones, Krampus carried sticks with which to beat them.
For the really recalcitrant he had a barrel on his back in which to cart them off to – variously – drown, eat or hell.
If that doesn’t do the trick, you could always introduce the children to his buddy, Perchta.
Her job was to go round the houses during the 12 days of Christmas letting children know what she thought of their behaviour over the previous 12 months.
If they passed muster, they’d be rewarded with a silver coin. If not she would slit open their bellies, remove the innards and fill the hole with straw and stones. You better watch out, indeed.
With villains of these proportions, the kids are bound to give you months and months of good behaviour.
Unfortunately they won’t be able to sleep for a year either so . . . six of one.