“A Kidnapped Santa Claus” was written by L. Frank Baum in 1904. It originally appeared in the Butterwick Publishing Company’s magazine entitled “The Delineator.” This magazine featured the company’s sewing, embroidery and needlework patterns in addition to short works of fiction and self-help articles.
The story was very entertaining and the mere concept of Santa subjected to a kidnapping can be an entertaining idea to most modern parents.
The tale unwinds in a mythical area filled with good and happy entities: “chuckling brooks, merrily whistling winds, fairies and knooks" (I don’t know what a knook is).
This land of contentment was called The Laughing Valley and it was next to a large mountain that harbored a collection of caves inhabited by “the daemons of selfishness, envy, hatred, malice, and repentance.”
Yes, oddly enough repentance was considered a daemon and I found myself struggling with that characterization, but I’ll return to this a little later.
These daemons were upset because they lacked visitations by the children during the holiday season. So . . . in an effort to change that they first tried to reason or tempt Santa into influencing children to visit their caves. That didn’t work at all for them, so they plotted to kidnap him.
Poor Santa . . . they shot a rope out at him as he made his rounds on Christmas Eve that wrapped around his jelly bowled body and yanked him out of his sleigh, making him slid face first into the snow. The reindeer didn’t have a clue what was going on as they leaped into the cold night air without him. Amazingly, none of the toys fell out.
I know it doesn’t sound like it right now but Santa was a pretty smart guy. He had in attendance some of his favorite assistants: Nuter the Ryl, Peter the Knook, Kilter the Pixie, and Wisk the Fairy. They were “snugly tucked underneath the seat, where the sharp wind could not reach them.”
After a while, they realized something was not right and looked out over the seat to runaway deer under the moonlight.
Meanwhile, the daemons roped Santa up and carried him to their caves, where they shackled him to a rock wall and tortured him with their temptations as they each guarded him throughout the night.
The little collection of assistants debated among themselves in Santa’s sleigh as to how they should proceed: rescue Santa first or deliver Christmas gifts. Fortunately for the happiness of the children, they chose the latter but not without some mistakes. One little boy received a sewing kit and one little girl received a drum.
Santa fought off the temptations of the daemons but he was very worried about the children. The last daemon to appeal to Santa was that of repentance.
The daemon of repentance was described as, “gentle and refined features, and his voice was soft and pleasant in tone.” He confided in Santa that the other daemons didn’t trust him and that he repented his contribution to the kidnapping.
So . . . the daemon of repentance set Santa free by way of a back door in his cave that let in the sunshine and fresh air.
I think Baum should have changed the daemon’s name to “remorse” because that was more appropriate, especially during the Christmas time of year. Remorse seems to have more guilt attached to it and that can be very destructive to one’s life. Repentance is necessary but to be overly remorseful is not.
Santa’s assistants finished the toy delivery a few snores before the children awoke, gathered every magical creature in their area and headed to the daemon’s caves to rescue him. As luck would have it, Santa met this determined army of love with this advice.
“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.
Christmas was saved, none of the children visited the daemons, the little girl who mistakenly received a drum got a doll, and the little boy with the sewing kit got a pair of boots.
Baum is a nostalgic name to recognize. He was the author and creator of a childhood favorite turned into a silver screen classic entitled, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.”