[image description: A thin red figure with irregular horns, a long tail, long pointy ears and pointy black fingernails sticks out his long curled tongue. He wears a long red cloak lined in a mangy fur that might once have been white. He holds a switch in both hands. Behind him the curve of the earth and a vague aurora. Text reads, “168, krampus – small god of secret santas”]
“Are you doing Secret Santa this year?”
“Yeah, but I got Chloe, and you know she never likes what anyone gets her, and she always comes in under the dollar amount by as much as she can get away with. That wouldn’t be so bad, except she brags about it. You were supposed to be getting me a Christmas present! Why is it appropriate to tell me that you saved seventeen dollars out of a twenty dollar budget? It’s like, come on, Chloe, read the room.”
“At least you don’t have to put too much effort into whatever you get for her.”
“True. It’s just going to wind up at next week’s White Elephant party no matter what. Ooo, maybe I should get some of that bodywash I like!”
“Isn’t she allergic to that?”
“Show me where I care.”
Santa—true Santa, Santa prime, Santa in the sky with reindeer—is not a small god. Santa will insist that he isn’t a god at all, but he carries the hopes and prayers of children, monuments are built in his honor, and priests garb themselves in replicas of his raiment to grant absolution. He is a god, like it or not, and he is not a small one. He stands outside the purview of our chronicles.
Krampus, while he once had a shot at the big sleigh, lost that bid thanks to a less than marketable image and a fondness for stuffing naughty children into his sack, and has since settled in to a slightly narrower sphere of holiday cheer. And while he still does all the traditional Krampus things—lots of respect for tradition at the North Pole—his main sphere of influence is a little more adult in nature.
When you think “I could pocket half the budget” or “I don’t like Becky from HR enough to get her anything good,” Krampus is there. Putting you on the naughty list, remembering your name. When you think “peanuts are delicious, who cares if she’s allergic, maybe she’ll give them to me,” Krampus judges you even if no one else can.
Judges, but doesn’t stop. Because there are many ways to punish the naughty, and they don’t all end with childhood. He can’t truly live as he desires unless you sometimes misbehave.
Disappoint Krampus. Be a good Secret Santa this year.
His sack is waiting.
Join Lee Moyer (Icon) and Seanan McGuire (Story) Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for a guide to the many small deities who manage our modern world: