Full disclosure: The Santa Clause is one of my all-time favorite Christmas movies. As the kind of kid who clung to her belief in Santa until it was impossible not to, it offered plausible (you know, in the way that magic is plausible) explanations for everything that Santa naysayers tried to use as proof that he wasn’t real. “How could he travel around the world in one night?” Time magic. “How could he carry all the presents for all the kids all at once?” Bag magic. “How could he get into houses without chimneys?” Chimney magic. It all worked.

This is just to point out that I was pretty invested in the world-building of The Santa Clause and the way it portrayed the rules of Being Santa Claus. I was just as invested in the plot of the sequel, The Santa Clause 2, but this time, instead of magical, they were kind of dark and twisted and, well, sad. Don’t believe me? Buckle up for a journey into the fine print of The Santa Clause 2, but be warned: It might change the way you look at the holiday classic for good.

First, let’s talk about what the “Santa Clause” is. It’s a legal contract, that turns Scott Calvin into Santa Claus because he read a business card without a magnifying glass and put on a dead guy’s clothes.

But when you DO use a magnifying glass, you see that it’s a contract that basically says if you put on the dead Santa’s suit and get in the sleigh, you’ve accepted the job of Santa Claus.

We know this contract is serious and magically enforced, because things like this happen:

Eventually, Scott Calvin accepts, even embraces, his new gig as Santa Claus and everyone lives happily ever after — until the sequel when Spencer Breslin the Elf (Bernard’s number 2) discovers a new, even finer print clause of the contract: The Mrs. Clause.

The gist of the “Mrs. Clause” is that Santa/Scott has to get married by Christmas or he’ll stop being Santa. The Mrs. Clause is part of the initial contract. Santa/Scott did nothing new to invoke it; it’s always been a part of the Santa contract. This means one of two equally dark things must be true:

1. The Santa who fell off Scott Calvin’s roof had a wife, a Mrs. Claus, who spontaneously vanished the moment he died. This might help explain why Bernard is in such a lousy mood when he meets Scott. Someone everyone at the North Pole knows and, presumably likes, just vanished while waiting for her husband to get home from work. Or…

2. Santas die so frequently that not even the head elf had ever encountered one who had lasted long enough to activate the Mrs. Clause.

I’m honestly not sure which is worse.

(Images via Disney, GIFs via Tumblr.)