Thursday, December 24, 2009

Unconventional Claus

One thing my parents did right: they never lied to me about Santa Claus. Santa was presented as a legend for the holiday and nothing more. By the time I got to kindergarten, all the kids knew there was no Santa --" it's your parents," everybody said breaking the last of the Santa Claus bubbles.

I don't believe people should lie to their kids. It undermines parental credibility. And that is not OK.

Yet, along the way I have found a couple of unconventional Clauses who are original and fun.

My favorite unconventional Claus just might be "Santa's Twin,"(1996) written by Dean Koontz ( and illustrated by Clarkston, Mich. resident, Phil Parks. Who would dream that a suspense/horror writer like Koontz, author of the recent "'Breathless" and "Intensity," could come up with a Christmas story? Originally, it was part of his novel ,"Mr. Murder."

The first major Christmas story in decades -- even before John Grisham's "Skipping Christmas"(2001) -- it's wonderful fun. Koontz wrote the story at the request on his fans. It's the story of two little girls, Charlotte and Emily, who set out to save Santa from his mischievous twin -- Bob Claus -- who stole Santa's sleigh and stuffed his toy bag with mud pies, cat poop, and broccoli.

These plucky little feministas take on Bob with gusto and end up saving Christmas.

Here's one of my favorite passages:

"Down in the living room, under the tree, Santa's evil twin is chortling with glee. He's got a collection of gift replacements, taken from dumps, sewers and basements.

He replaces a nice watch meant for Lottie, with a nasty gift for a girl who's naughty, which is one thing Lottie has never been.

Forgetting her vitamins is her biggest sin.

In place of the watch, he wraps up a clot of horrid, glistening, greenish toad snot.

From the package for Emily, he steals a doll, and gives her a new gift she's bound to appall.

It's slimy, rancid and starting to fizz, not even the villain knows what it is.

The stink could stop a big runaway truck, it's such gooey, gluey woozy making muck."

Don't worry , the girls are about to give Bob a run for his money.

Koontz clever rhyming prose are completely original. If you're not a fan before reading this book, you will be afterwards. Parks' clever artwork incorporates a snowman into each illustration. The challenge is to find one on each page. This is not a typical Santa story, which is what I personally love about it.

Koontz and Parks also teamed up for " The Paper Doorway," in 2001 and "Every Day's a Holiday" in 2003. The latter features a frog throughout the illustrations the same way "Santa's Twin" features the snowman.

What a wonderful way for Koontz to stretch his creative muscle in a completely opposite direction from his suspense/horror genre.

My other favorite unconventional Claus is Billy Bob Thornton's "Bad Santa" (2003). There are no feminist heroines in this story. In fact, it has nothing to do with feminism. It's quite the opposite. If you can't handle language, don't watch it. It has plenty of "F-bombs" and raunchy humor. In addition to Thornton, the film features two of my favorite people, both now deceased, John Ritter -- his last role -- and Bernie Mac. Watching the movie is just a little sadder now that Bernie is gone. Tony Cox is also hilarious as Marcus. I guarantee you've never seen a Santa quite like Billy Bob, and you might not want to again.

At our house during the holiday season, "Bad Santa" is on everyday from December 1 until New Year's Day when he goes back in his box until next December.

Merry Christmas to all -- and to all a good night.

Blessed Be.

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