Christmas Spirit Showdown

The release of the movie Krampus was a couple of weeks ago. Of course I went to see it because a horror Christmas comedy starring Adam Scott…DUH. It’s like the movie studio had me in mind when they were sitting around drinking copious amounts of eggnog trying to come up with fresh ideas. Great movie. If you’re into that sort of thing, you should definitely go see it.

However, it’s brought to the forefront of my mind the general gift-giving tradition of the holiday season, what it means to parents of temper tantrum throwing children everywhere, and I’m left wondering about the whole Santa vs Krampus thing once again. 

So the movie comes out. It’s all about an ancient demon that arrives around Christmas time to kidnap and eat all the nasty little kids (or in the case of the movie, people in general, not just kids) out there that made the world a worse place. “The shadow of Santa Claus” he’s called in the movie. His origins are Eastern European (because of course) and I couldn’t help but think that these downtrodden Slavic parents maybe sort of had the right idea.

I mean, think about it. It’s easy to wave off being forced into good behavior. A kid, or an adult for that matter, could play off not wanting a particular toy (hey, adults want toys too!) after he’s caught throwing rocks and knowing that his top-of-the-list item won’t be under the tree this year. “Pssssh, I didn’t want it that bad anyway. I’m glad I threw that rock.” Simple.

Or just blow off being good one day knowing they’ll just make some grand gesture a few days later to make up for it…most likely accompanied by that doe-eyed look that no-one can possibly resist. As if Santa has a selective memory and only the most recent stuff sticks. Make sure the last memorable thing was a positive one and that iPad is as good as got. Which when you look at it realistically, works. Kids have that game figured out.

The point being that from a Santa perspective, the consequences aren’t very dire so the kids, and people in general, aren’t that set on being “good,” at least not for the long game.

But with Krampus, well boy howdy, there you have some serious repercussions if you mess up. It’s not just, “You’re not going to get that Lionel train set.” It’s more, “I’m going to stuff you in a burlap sack, drag you to my hellish lair, and then eat you alive.” I don’t know about you but my rock throwing days would noticeably diminish (at least in the winter months) if I thought Krampus might be watching.

Scared Straight

‘Tis the season when we Christmas-lovin’ folk start looking at the world through red and green colored glasses. We’re rushing to buy trees, hoarding the best milk for those cold nights when hot cocoa will be divine, making space on our mantle where fuzzy stockings will be hung, and whispering stories into our children’s ears about an evil demon that will drag them to hell if they don’t behave.

Wait…what!? Did you just hear a record scratch?

That story of Santa?  Boring! What a goodie-goodie that guy is. He rewards the good kids with gifts. Effective enough, I guess. But there’s the lesser known Bizarro Santa known as Krampus, a horned beast concocted by Germanic and Eastern European countries (with original ties to Norse Mythology) to scare kids and keep them on the straight and narrow path throughout the year. How you ask? Well, it’s simple really…Krampus threatened to stuff the bad children into his doggy bag and take them down to the fiery pits of his lair where he would feast on them at his leisure if they dare step out of line. Now that’s what I call problem solving.

Santa is to Superman what Krampus is to Batman. Santa is an out-and-out hero with a seriously naive outlook on the goodness in the world and caters to that, while Krampus is that creature lurking in the shadows of Gotham inducing terror into any wrong-doers until they straighten themselves out. Superman may get the sponsorships but Batman gets the results.

Just try it. If your kid’s throwing a tantrum in the aisle at Toys R’ Us, use the good ol’ Santa card and see if your howling monster of an offspring snaps to attention. Maybe you’ll get lucky, maybe not. It sure didn’t work in the case of the child throwing a fit at the Fresh and Greens last year.

But if you pull out the Krampus threat, I bet he or she will snap to attention a lot quicker knowing their soul is on the line instead of a 10-speed bike. Put yourself in your kids’ shoes for a second and listen to these two phrases:

1) “Santa won’t give you that train set unless you stop yelling.”

2) “Krampus is going to eat you alive and feast on your bones unless you get yourself under control right now.”

I’m no child psychologist but I’m going to take a wild guess that Option #2 might be a tiny bit more effective. You never know until you try, right?

Eastern Europe might’ve been a harsh place to live back in Krampus’ day, but one thing’s for sure, they knew how to keep their kids under control. Seems like there’s a lesson in there some place.