Twelve Days of Completely Secular Yuletide: An obscure origin story in The Santa Clause

Santa Claus’ origin story has never been told quite as twisted as in Disney’s The Santa Clause.

In this 90s classic, Scott Calvin, a crabby capitalist played by Tim Allen, gets grounded by the magic of Christmas by becoming Santa Claus.

Scott is with his son Charlie for Christmas Eve this year. Despite pushback from his ex-wife Laura and her new husband Neil, a therapist, he wants Charlie to believe in Santa Claus and tries to make the holiday as magical as possible. The evening consists of a burnt turkey and a Denny’s dinner surrounded by other single fathers with their children.

Back at home, Charlie is tucked into bed, but suddenly there are sounds on the rooftop — it’s Santa Claus.

Scott shouts at him, which is totally rational since there is a strange man in costume on his roof. Unfortunately for Saint Nick, he slips off the roof, falling to his demise. This is surprising, considering Santa’s whole career involves being able to stand on icy rooves, but I digress.

Because Santa Claus is magic, his body disappears, leaving behind the infamous red and white suit behind with a note.

“If something should happen to me, put on my suit. The reindeer will know what to do,” it reads.

Scott reluctantly puts on the oversized suit and finds the reindeer on the roof. Along with Charlie, he embarks on a night of gift-giving — after some hilarious hijinks with a barking dog, and a little girl leaving Scott some two per cent milk (which he can’t have), Scott and Charlie are taken to the North Pole by the reindeer.

This is where the lore of Santa Claus is fully expanded upon. With no choice in the matter, Scott Calvin is Santa Claus. All the elves embrace him as their new leader, with Bernard — a fan favourite — giving him the full orientation and tour of the workshop. Scott is told he has until next Thanksgiving to “get his affairs in order” and then his life as Santa Claus officially begins.

In Charlie’s eyes, this whole situation is great — his therapist stepfather had convinced him Santa wasn’t real, and here is his dad becoming Santa.

And just like that, Scott and Charlie wake up back in their house, and Scott convinces himself the entire thing was just a dream.

Meanwhile, Charlie can’t contain his excitement about Scott’s new job; he shares the news with his classmates, mother and stepfather. At this point, the magic of Santa Claus is possessing Scott — he develops a sweet tooth, lactose tolerance and fast-growing facial hair that is entirely white.

Neil, the therapist, begins treating Charlie, and believes that Scott is not only a bad influence for making him believe in Santa Claus, but is actually playing into his fantasies through physical changes in order to gain his love.

Wow, now that’s heavy.

After the temporary ruling of full custody to Charlie’s mother, Scott finally comes to his senses and realizes that he is Santa Claus. On Thanksgiving, he abducts Charlie and takes him to the North Pole. Neil and Laura go to the police, because in their eyes, Charlie’s father is on the verge of insanity and has taken their child. Heavy stuff.

But alas, all is forgiven. Charlie is returned on Christmas Eve, and Laura and Neil believe in Santa. They are both given the toys that, as children, they never got but wanted more than anything.

The entire Santa Clause franchise is obscure, and I love it. For anyone who questions the lore of Santa, I would say this series is the definitive answer to how he came to be.

Happy Christmas to all! And to all a goodnight!