Cat on a MatThis week the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage approached me with a serious question.

As far as I am concerned, life is full of questions, but coming from her, I need to be very careful. I have found out that a question with her is not merely a question. It can be a whole lot more than that with multiple layers. I am still trying to figure out the dimensions of her questions.

If I do not understand her question, my answer is going to get me into trouble. Believe me; I know what trouble is all about.

I have several cats in the neighborhood that I feed. I am not sure where they come from, but they show up at the back porch for the free treats I put out for them. This has also attracted possums, raccoons and foxes that come for the treats I have there for them.

Most of them are somewhat antsy and try to stay out of trouble as much as possible. I can certainly relate to that.

Last week my wife purchased a brand-new rug for the back porch. It was red and looked very nice. Showing it to me, she said, "Make sure you don't spill anything on this new rug."

I must not have been the only one who heard that. Ever since then, none of my "critters" coming to my back porch has walked on that rug. They all walk around it and stare at it as though it is something very special.

I understood their dilemma since I have faced that dilemma many times myself.

However, the question posed to me by the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage was, “Are you on Santa’s naughty or nice list this year?”

Hearing that question caused me some trepidation. If anybody knows the difference between naughty and nice, it has to be my wife. I assume that Good Old Santa gets advice on this from my wife. If I am on his naughty list, then I know who put me there.

I am not sure I can remember any time that I was on his nice list. There must be a story behind that, I am sure.

Precisely, what does it mean to be naughty from Santa's point of view?

For a moment, the temptation danced in my mind to ask my wife about this, but I was sure if I did, she would tell me and tell me more than I actually wanted to know.

I tried reflecting over the year to see if there was any indication that I crossed the line somewhere into the naughty area. I could not think of any, but I am sure I was overlooking something.

The thing I try to figure out is, how do I get on his nice list? Is there something I can do to get off the naughty list? I am open to all kinds of suggestions here.

It is not that I am worried about being on Santa's naughty list. I can handle that. I simply do not want to be on my wife's naughty list. That certainly is my goal in life. I will do anything within reason (if I had any reason) to not only get on her nice list but to stay there.

I must confess there are times when I lean toward the naughty. I hope Santa never sees me in that stage of my life. More importantly, I hope my wife never sees me at that stage.

Naughty, for me, is doing something behind my wife's back. For instance: eating an Apple Fritter is best done behind my wife's back. If she sees me eating an Apple Fritter, she will remind me that it is not on my diet.

When she says, "my diet," she is referring to her diet imposed upon me. If you look at my diet, it includes Apple Fritters and a whole lot more not on hers.

Personally, I do not consider it naughty to eat according to my diet. I do not know of anything nicer than sitting down with a nice hot cup of coffee and a fresh Apple Fritter. Then, it is a lot nicer when I am not caught.

As to the question, am I on Santa's naughty or nice list, I am not quite sure. All year long, I tried to stay out of the naughty and focus on the nice. I must confess it is difficult trying to focus on being nice when naughty comes so much easier.

Another consideration is, why should somebody who only visits once a year know anything about whether I’m naughty or nice? How can their judgment be correct if they do not keep tabs on me all year long?

So, to answer my wife's question, I simply said, "I believe I'm on his nice list this year."

She simply looked at me with one of “those looks” and I knew that her belief and my belief were on different pages.

I thought about what I read in the Bible a couple of days ago. Something King Solomon said. "That thou mayest walk in the way of good men, and keep the paths of the righteous” (Proverbs 2:20).

The important thing is not if I’m naughty or nice or if I’m on Santa’s list. The important thing is to surround myself with “good men.” The companions I keep are the ones that will help me walk in the path of righteousness.

Rev James Snyder videoDr. James L. Snyder, is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, 1471 Pine Road, Ocala, FL 34472. He lives with his wife in Silver Springs Shores. James is an award winning author whose books are available at

Call him at 352-687-4240 or e-mail [email protected]. The church web site is

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