I find the holidays malicious. Too much noise, too many gifts, too much pressure, too dark (literally). All the people I know are becoming ever more depressed: If they're not Christian, they feel weird. If they don't have a spouse, they feel lonely and alienated. If they have a spouse but no children, the supposed childlike delight feels like a living reproach. If they have children and a spouse, then still they can never do enough, have the holiday they're "supposed" to have. There's more: if you're not around your family you miss them, if half of them are dead, the holidays remind you of the loss, if you are around your extended family, it's sure to end with the police called to a domestic. If one tends toward depression, well, this is ground zero. The holidays remind you that you're poor, lonely, alienated, Jewish, and your loved ones are dead or annoying. And all the food makes you portly.
Enter my new favorite holiday hero, Krampus. My sardonic sister introduced us. He's the evil anti-Santa, an invention of the oddly sepulchral German imagination, intended to scare children. Apparently Krampus is a sort of Christmas devil who comes around to punish bad little boys and girls. In some versions he steals them. In other versions, he's sort of sexy and goes for the ladies with a light-hearted sadism and a birch switch. And at home, we wonder whether he was possibly a Jewish stereotype; the Germans have a bit of a track record with these. Anyway, I love Krampus. I relate to him. I have a crush on him even. He's the perfect antidote to all of the nonsense. Call me a cynic, call me a Jew, but Krampus really delivers.
Feast your eyes on some of the many incarnations of this Christmas ghoul: