I don’t have to know Mr and Mrs Claus personally to be empathetic to their plight. The common ground of single parenthood has it that I appreciate the wrangling that goes on with divvying up property, thrashing out parenting schedules and the awkward school-ground encounters with an ex. The crushing heartache for both of the Claus parents will be the impact on the loving relationship they have with their children. Then, there will be the messy breakup of their internationally successful Christmas operation.

I can appreciate Mrs Claus’ argument that her ex put the business ahead of family, especially with his patterned history of disappearing on Christmas Eve, right as the in-laws were due to visit for their own family celebrations. Of course, the tabloids have already begun their exploitive work, relentlessly expanding acres of newsprint because “celebrity split” sells.

I know that Annalina Claus railed on about her husband’s post-Christmas exhaustion that paralysed him on the sofa throughout January. Then, accusations were posted to Facebook from disgruntled elves claiming that some of their work was being outsourced to Bangladesh. Santa’s failure to reply within nanoseconds was made out on Twitter to be as good as a guilty statement. Slurs began to spread internationally as truths. Rumour and innuendo were broadcast as fact.

I completely understand Santa going underground. He and his family pretty much lived off the grid in the South Pole, yet that wasn’t remote enough to prevent the media hounds from staking out the Clauses’ expansive property. I have been disappointed by the celebrity lawyers selling sound bites that have less substance than a cheap Christmas bonbon. And I am especially upset because I am partly responsible for the sorry circumstances of Santa and Annalina. My accountability is in the extra workload I created for Santa through my own divorce.

Broken Homes

In 2021, there were 56,244 divorces. I haven’t turned the Australian Bureau of Statistics figures inside out to determine how many of those divorces involved families of children. Maybe it is a quarter. Two-thirds might be closer to the mark. The details of the numbers do not matter, and to study them is time lost to understanding the raw grief of the Claus family. My own divorce is somewhere in the mix of numbers.

For each divorce of a mum and dad, Santa has to double his delivery workload. In happier times, Santa could silently distribute gifts, knowing that my daughters had the comfort of one home. Now, they have the complexity of two homes.

Ahead of Christmas time, I let Santa know if I am at home or have travelled to celebrate with family. That way, whether it be coal or toys, Santa knows where to complete the drop-off. Where previously a one-stop drop-off was all that was required of Santa, he now races between two households. Has anyone considered the great increase in Santa’s workload, while the marketing efforts of every toy shop hint to Santa that he should deliver bigger and better each year?

Navigating Complexities

I have no idea what corners needed to be cut or what pressure was put on Santa by his Accounting Department. I simply understand that separation and divorce are a crushing blow to parents. I expect that Santa was hardly at his rational best as he called up Rudolph to lead the way.

He is likely to be further frustrated by an expectation to run two deliveries between my home and my daughters’ mum’s, while realising that his dearest relationship seemed kaput. The poor guy will be wrecked by the conviction that he worked his jolly butt off for his family, but it wasn’t enough to keep the joy in his marriage.

There is going to be lots of suffering in the Clauses’ anguish. From this side of the world, there is little I can do directly to offer solace. But, I might just be able to empathise with my own friend or brother or colleague suffering the same. I can reach out with care because separation should not be travelled solo.

The divorce numbers are so great that you will know someone who needs your kindness. Be brave, lead with an embrace and offer, “Yeah, this is wretched; you are a mate, and I will stand by you throughout.” I trust that Santa and Mrs Claus are receiving the same from their friends.


Photo by Pixabay.

About the Author: Greg McInerney

Greg is the father of two daughters.

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