Santa and his evil trolls

Friday 23 December 2016 — Homeport: Falmouth Harbor — the Eve of Christmas Eve. 

Remember, dear readers, the troll craze of the 1960s? Back in the day, trolls were small plastic dolls with arms extended in a warm hug. They had big cheerful eyes, a broad smile and, of course, their signature up-combed fluorescent hair (available in a variety of colors). My sister Mary had a collection of troll dolls. 

Due to a 3D computer-animated children’s movie now playing in a theater near you, trolls have made a huge comeback. Children everywhere will find trolls under the Christmas tree this weekend. Well, mark my words: it’s all fun and games until somebody gets hurt. 

The prototypical troll doll, as we all know, was carved by Thomas Dam, a Dane, as a Christmas gift to little daughter Lila. All the girls in the village soon wanted one. These are the authentic Dam trolls and not to be confused with unauthorized rip-offs. 

Trolls are prominent in Danish folklore. They are nasty creatures that lurk in dark, dank, and forsaken places — in primordial forests, in mountain caves, and under old moss-covered stone bridges. 

Actually, my sister despised troll dolls but everyone presented her one on every possible occasion. So cute, they said. She would stash them away under the eaves and bolt the access door. 

One day, my sister bravely rounded up all her trolls and buried them in a mass grave in the garden. My sister was onto something. A cute troll is an oxymoron. There is no such thing as a “cute” troll (unless you have a pathological fondness for ogres).

Wait one cotton-picking minute! I just remembered that back in the early 70s my dear sister gave me a little troll to display on my office desk. It had orange hair and wore a tiny black clergy shirt. It would be a whimsical conversation piece, she said. So cute, she said. How gullible could I have been? I was pranked by my sister. This explains certain adverse events in my life over the years. It was that Dam troll!

After decades of exhaustive research into worldwide Christmas legends, I have made a shocking discovery. Hang onto your Santa hats, dear readers: there’s a Christmas elf conspiracy. 

You know those charming elves that work year-round in Santa’s North Pole workshop? These are not elves at all. They are trolls! They are living the thug life up there at the North Pole. Who knew?

The first among Santa’s evil trolls goes by the name of Krampus. He is well-known by children in Germany, Austria, and Eastern Europe, although hardly anyone in the United States has heard of him. Nevertheless, he’s easy to identify. Krampus is a little devil. He has two horns and a long protruding tongue. Even Gene Simmons of the rock group “Kiss” can’t hold a candle to the Krampus. As a safety precaution, Santa keeps the Krampus bound in chains. Never tease a chained Krampus.

Another member of Santa’s North Pole gang is the French troll Pere Fouetta. This condemned convict was spared execution but sentenced to forever follow St. Nicholas as his slave. He sometimes uses the alias Houseckler. We have come to know him as the bogeyman. 

Several members of Santa’s thugs were formerly employed as chimney sweeps. They are small enough in stature to slide down chimneys with ease. Covered in soot, they carry a bag of coal for children on the naughty list. There is Ilwyd (Sion Corn) from Wales, Peter the Moor from Scandinavia, and Knecht Ruprecht from Germany. 

There are also Santa troll wannabees, but they never amount to much. They seldom make it to the North Pole, although they do tend to be concentrated in Nordic countries. These troublesome gnomes hang around your attic causing mischief and mayhem. You will never see one. They are only visible to cats. These are the Tomte, Nissen, and Gubben. Fortunately, you can distract them by leaving a bowl of rice pudding on the attic stairs every night. You may, however, notice your cat inexplicably gaining weight. 

Lastly, Pelznickle is a very clever troll who somehow got past Homeland Security and snuck into the United States through Germany. To be clear, he is not a member of Santa’s trolls. He is actually Santa’s doppelganger — an evil twin. This one tries to arrive early on Christmas Eve and gobble up all the goodies left out for Santa. If the real Santa gets there first, Pelznickle steals the children’s gifts while the kids are still asleep. There have been several recent sightings in Pennsylvania. 

With all these trolls running around the rectory on Christmas Eve, I intend to lock myself in my room.

Father Ray Cambra can say the Midnight Mass. 

Feliz Navidad.

Anchor columnist Father Goldrick is pastor of St. Patrick’s Parish in Falmouth.

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