When Santa Was An Angry, Vengeful Santa

When Santa Was An Angry, Vengeful Santa

Shane BarnhillTuesday,23 December 2014

I have a very clear memory of waking up, many years ago, late at night on Christmas Eve. I was jolted awake by what I believed were footsteps and hooves on my roof. I was a young child–probably six or seven years of age–and so, given that SANTA CLAUS WAS ON MY FRIGGIN’ ROOF, you might assume that I was filled with joy, excitement and wonder. But you’d be wrong. In fact, it was quite the opposite.

I was fucking terrified.

You see, the Santa Claus of the olden days (aka the 1970s), despite his description as a “jolly old elf,” was nothing like the kinder, gentler St. Nicholas of modern times. For starters, there was none of this elf on the shelf crap. Olden Times Santa (OTS) didn’t need to deploy an expensive network of spies to all corners of the globe in order to adequately gauge the naughtiness and niceness of kids everywhere.

Instead, OTS was a magical, omnipotent demigod. “Santa Claus is watching,” we were told by not only our parents, but also by any other adult who was even mildly annoyed with our behavior and thus wanted to put the fear of God–or rather, the fear of OTS–into us whiny little shits. You fart in a restaurant? “Santa Claus is watching.” Fight with your sibling? “Santa Claus is watching.” Talk back to your mother? “Santa Claus is watching, and you’ll be lucky to even get coal in your stocking now!”

As children growing up in the days of OTS, we had the beejeezus scared out of us for 24 straight days each December, via threats of vengeance from a hermit elf so powerful that he could make animals fly and travel faster than the speed of light. Sure, Santa rewarded all the model children out there, but he was all too willing to send over the Krampus if you fucked up.

So you see, those footsteps on the roof weren’t a comforting sound.

Of course, elves on shelves aren’t entirely responsible for transforming Santa’s rep. Kids now have a lot more access to old Kris Kringle, making him seem like much less of a mysterious, mythological figure. For example, they can go online to track Santa’s progress, in real time, around the globe on Christmas Eve. There’s even an app for that. No more threats along the lines of “you kids had better hurry up and get to bed, because if you’re still up then Santa Claus will pass us by.” These days, kids not only know better, but they’ve got GPS to prove it.

Furthermore, many children now receive personalized videos from Santa Claus (like mine, below), in which he praises them for being good and provides a preview of whatever big gift he has in store for them–which, I have to admit, is pretty damn cool, but it definitely removes all suspense from Christmas and reduces the OTS fear factor down to a comfortable zero point zero rating.

In short, Santa no longer hides away at the North Pole, only to emerge twice each year: once at your local mall, smelling of beef and cheese, and a second time on Christmas Eve to either deliver the goods or punish you for a year full of snot-nosed jackassery. He’s now a kinder, gentler elf. He makes himself available for video messages, streams a live webcam feed from his house, and allows his movements to be tracked by NORAD.

So goodbye, OTS: Le roi est mort, vive le roi!


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