On this chilly November Sunday, Mother Goose is thinking of the coming holidays. I’m planning my Thanksgiving menu, considering some Black Friday shopping, making my Christmas lists and checking them twice. Mother Goose enjoys this time of year because there are so many opportunities to show folks some love. I try to keep my patience with the children more than ever this time of year, and keep my honking to a minimum so as to maintain the peace and joy of the season. I was ecstatic to remember this bit of rhyme about Little Jack Horner, and thought it might be wise to consider his story today.
Little Jack Horner
Sat in the corner,
Eating a Christmas pie;
He put in his thumb,
And pulled out a plum,
And said ‘What a good boy am I!
So we meet a young fellow named Jack sitting in the corner. Jack is a common name in my nursery rhymes and we will be analyzing several Jacks in the coming days, but none are quite like Little Jack Horner.
Why do children sit in the corner anyway? Are they usually prone to playing games and having fun in corners? Does a child, especially a boy, go and sit in a corner of his own accord? Mother Goose thinks not. In fact, any parent knows that if a child is sent to the corner, it’s not because he’s being such a good boy.
Jack has been naughty. And being naughty at Christmas time is never a good choice. Santa Claus is surely aware of Jack’s bad behavior. I would imagine his mother is at her wits end with Jack, and probably has gently guided him into the corner in a last effort ditch to correct his bad behavior before he becomes a total juvenile delinquent. I know his mother is very concerned about Jack, and she’s hoping that perhaps this discipline will touch his heart and prevent him from joining a neighborhood gang.
But lo and behold! There he is with the Christmas pie! Mother’s pie that she got up early to prepare for the family. Plum pie with plums from her special plum tree in the backyard — it would have gone so nicely with the juicy
goose duck she was roasting in the oven for the Christmas dinner. Poor Mother, she will be so disappointed in Jack.
How did Jack get that Christmas plum pie anyway? Is this some sort of a conspiratory? (Or do you say conspiracy?) Perhaps Jack has not acted alone in his naughtiness, but has an accomplice in the Christmas plum pie caper? I am not a goose who points fingers, but I am immediately suspect of Jack’s sister, Mary Mary Quite Contrary. And we WILL be getting to her story in a day or two….
So Little Jack stuck his thumb in the pie, ruining the dessert for the family. He pulled a plum out of the pie, examined it carefully, and then declared, “WHAT A GOOD BOY AM I!” The little hypocrite! He’s already in the corner for misbehaving, he’s messed with the pie, and now he is quite assured of his goodness despite all the evidence to the contrary.
Good and gentle reader, do you know anyone like Little Jack? Do you know that self-righteous somebody who is busily convincing the world of his or her own goodness all the while they are cheating and spoiling the day for somebody else? Mother Goose HAS known people like that, but I would never tell you their names.
The moral of this little story is: beware of young men sitting in the corner and smiling at you, for surely they will steal your plum pie and maybe even your heart.