Tuesday, December 08, 2009

A Kidnapped Santa Claus

1904 brought two short stories by L. Frank Baum that featured the return of his take on Santa Claus. Queer Visitors from the Marvelous Land of Oz featured a story in which the visitors make toys of themselves and bring them to the Laughing Valley, but we'll get into that one later...

The other story was printed in The Delineator, and is much more commonly known, printed in many anthologies of short Christmas stories. The edition I've been reading it in the past three years is the International Wizard of Oz Club's The Collected Short Stories of L. Frank Baum. (It's also been included in The Complete Life & Adventures of Santa Claus, containing that book and this story, but I don't own that.)

The story tells how Claus' deliveries of toys greatly reduces the success of the Daemons of the Caves. Their Caves are purely metaphorical, and it's easy to see what each Daemon and their Cave represents by the name. There is the Daemon of Selfishness, the Daemon of Envy, the Daemon of Hatred, the Daemon of Malice, and the Daemon of Repentance. Simply, they make children do bad deeds by leading them through their caves. But at the end, they can repent and make good for the misdeed.

The Daemons try to get Claus to give into them, but he remains steadfast and true to the end. So, they try a different approach and kidnap him as he goes out on his Christmas Eve deliveries. Kilter, Nuter, and Wisk, Claus' assistants, finish the deliveries without him, with minimal errors that are later corrected.

Meanwhile, the Daemons take delight in their mischief, and they put Santa in the Cave of Repentance, while the others go to their Caves to await children. Claus and the Daemon of Repentance talk for a bit, the discussion quickly leading to the Daemon letting Claus escape, as he has done no wrong, and the mischief the Daemons did is done, so there is no point in keeping Claus there, and the Daemon of Repentance has himself repented of his part of the misdeed.

As Claus walks home, he comes across an army consisting of his assistants and his friends from the Forest of Burzee, ready to fight the Daemons, but he tells them to let the Daemons be.
"It is useless to pursue the Daemons," said Santa Claus to the army. "They have their place in the world, and can never be destroyed. But that is a great pity, nevertheless," he continued musingly.
And we are assured that the Daemons learned not to attempt to dissuade Santa again.

While this is a fun, easy reading story, it feels more like it's already been told. The Awgwas in The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus kidnapped Claus twice and both times, he was rescued. An army of Immortals did get involved in removing the threat from Claus' life.

All the same, it's interesting that Baum kept revisiting Santa Claus, and revealed that even after he was made an Immortal, he still had trouble.

Now, next time, we'll begin looking at some stories about Santa Claus that were not by L. Frank Baum.

1 comment:

Jer Alford said...

A graphic novel of A Kidnapped Santa Clause just came out through Harper Collins.