The holidays this year went by much smoother than I expected. I expected some grief over the last year, some pangs over missing out on events with family and friends, some reflections on Christmas's past, and some desires to reach out to people I have no business talking to because it's the holidays and that's what you do. All of that was nullified Christmas night when I got into a text discussion with a friend over the fate of Santa Claus's wife.
First off, let's set the scene. I had been to a holiday party. I had had some drinks and was settling in to watch Werner Herzog's documentary about Antarctica, Encounters at the End of the World because snow, I guess. A friend, drunk in a bar 2,000 miles away, sends me a text which reads: " I'm at [the bar]... and The Santa Cause 2: The Mrs. Clause comes on. What happened to the previous Mrs. Klaus (sic)?" This began a magical journey.
In case you are not aware, the Santa Clause movies are a trilogy of films wherein Tim Allen murders Santa Claus and has to take over the position. In the second movie, he has to get married (Mrs. Clause, get it?). In the third Martin Short comes in, and the plot is a It's a Wonderful Life rip off because there's only four Christmas stories. We are discussing the second movie if you have not been paying attention or skipped ahead.
So, first movie, once again, Santa Claus slips off Tim Allen's house and dies. Mr. Allen puts on the coat because that's what you do when people fall off your house. Free coat. We've all been there. The fact that the body vanishes is somewhat significant, but what is more significant is that Mr. Allen and his son are taken to the North Pole where the elves accept him right away. In the second movie he must marry to continue being Santa Claus, a job he has grown to love.
Still with me? Okay. So what the hell happened to Santa's body, the previous Mrs. Claus if there was one, and why are the elves so cool with this transaction? The first question is easy. Magic. The position has a bit of a teleportation deal to it, hence all the deliveries to houses, and the body was whisked magically back to where the elves had a nice small ceremony before the new Santa showed up. Time dilation and the travel time between wherever the first movie takes place and the North Pole account for this.
Except due to the position and the "Mrs. Clause," the dead Santa had to have a wife left over, right? Our own bias of women living longer than men leads to this assumption. What if, however, one of two things were true. What if the previous Santa never completed the Mrs. Clause and his death was the result. In the second movie, Tim Allen just loses his weight and snowy white hair, but what if the old Santa just got got? Harsh punishment for not fulfilling a contract.
The second answer is much more depressing. Imagine dead Santa fulfilled the "Mrs. Clause" and found the love of his life. There's no telling how long they were married, but we can guess it was a while and that they had grown a mutual attachment if not codependence as long-term couples tend to do. What if in the previous year, Mrs. Claus had passed away? In his grief, soon to be dead Santa went through his daily duties with a half assed approach, no longer giving his all when climbing around on stranger’s houses and maybe having a drink or two before climbing in the sled. This would lead him to be less agile while on the roof, easily startled and more susceptible to slipping and falling. It's a bummer, but a fact of life that grief does dark things to the body.
But that doesn't explain why the elves don't seem to give a shit about their dead figurehead and his contractual paramour. Even if the woman vanished the moment dead Santa left this realm, they should have some grief or at least comments on how "the old Santa didn't do it like that." Every new supervisor has had this. Nope, though, they just roll along with Tim Allen.
Which leads to the next dark chapter. What if the elves are really evil, preying on a mortal couple to entice children with gifts in exchange for their souls? Stay with me.
Who came up with the "Santa Clause" contracts? We don't know, but with their familiarity it seems the elves had a hand in its making or at least its enforcement. Why do they need this at all? Why can't they do the gift delivery themselves? I think I answered it a little before. They need a figurehead, a mortal agent to guide their morality as the times change back in the land of the living. These beings may be closer to the Irish folklore creatures The Sidhe, or the fairy folk, who preyed on children and travelers. Much of the folklore around the sidhe is familiar to the Santa Clauses, including not eating, drinking, or accepting gifts from the fairy less you become trapped by them and visa versa.
Well, if that is true, then why have a female Santa figurehead at all? One dude delivering gifts seems enough, right? Depends on your idea of balance and what a woman brings to the table. Having a man and a woman brings perspective of the world for the elves and companionship for the couple. It also brings babies, as we see with the pregnant Mrs. Claus in part three of the holy trilogy.
In sidhe lore, the fairy often trick parents by exchanging mortal children with their own. These creatures, known as changelings, then grow with the parents to bring more mortals into the fairy, much the way Peter Pan lured kids back. What if this is how elves in the North Pole reproduce, by having a couple forced together by a contract and create babies to repopulate the elf line? This is explains the why of Mrs. Claus, but not where she goes when Santa bites it.
Here we bring in the Krampus, the malevolent spirit that takes care of bad children. What if this is the form Mrs. Claus takes when Santa passes to the great beyond? What if she if forced into servitude caring for all the little boy and girl souls harvested by the gift giving the elves do through their proxy Santa each year? The “evil” nature of Krampus could be the perfect elf narrative camouflage of a once benevolent mother figure, much like how “evil stepmothers” are a thing in many fairy tales.
Mrs. Claus could be a pawn of theirs, or if you feel more kind, understanding the deal rebels. Possibly this is why the Santa dies in the first place. Live long enough with the elves, you learn their immortal ways and eventually their motives. The Claus's rebel and Mrs. Claus is forced into servitude while Mr. Claus is killed and replaced.
So that's what I was thinking about as I nestled into bed Christmas night. I hope you all had a happy holidays.