The more I think about it, though, the more I believe this may actually have to happen. I’ve written about the Krampus here before. In some German-speaking parts of the world (Where — let’s face it — people have issues.) the Krampus is a kind of a malevolent yin to St. Nicholas’ benevolent yang.
St. Nicholas serves his traditional role as the kindly dispenser of rewards to good little children in the form of treats or presents. The Krampus, on the other hand, is the fearsome, horned devil with the job of punishing naughty children. In his more benign manifestations, he may simply give kids lumps of coal instead of presents, or swat them with sticks. Nastier representations have the Krampus taking a whip to kids. And at his worst, he’ll carry them off to eat them, drown them or take them to Hell.
In response to my Facebook post, my friend Scott (read his book, by the way) posted this response:
“If you win the drawing, you get to pick whose child is snatched and carried off in a sack!”
While some of the kids I was exposed to in stores this holiday season make me think that may not be a bad idea, that’s not really what I had in mind.
Secret Santa exchanges don’t actually require you to drive a sleigh and deliver toys to good little children. It’s a simple anonymous giving of gifts, in symbolic tribute to a mythical incarnation of Yuletide generosity and cheer.
Similarly, the Secret Krampus exchange would be a simple, anonymous doling out of misfortune as a kind of cosmic retribution for bad behavior. I’m picturing someone getting up in the morning and finding his tires slashed, with a note tucked under the windshield reading: “YOU’VE BEEN A NAUGHTY BOY THIS YEAR. (SEE ATTACHED PHOTOS.) HERE’S YOUR PUNISHMENT. SMOOCHES, YOUR SECRET KRAMPUS.”
Even that might be a bit dramatic. Transgressions that merit a visit from the Secret Krampus could run the gamut from honking a car horn in a residential area at 6 a.m. in lieu of ringing a doorbell, to leaving a tuna sub in the office fridge for a month, to withholding a promised 401(k) plan.
And Secret Krampus manifestations?
Perhaps the mysterious disappearance of a Powerpoint presentation on which the recipient has spent the last week working. Or a visit by a leather-clad sex worker at the annual home Christmas party, loudly demanding that the recipient pay a delinquent bill.
The possibilities are endless. As is the list of deserving recipients.