Well, it’s that time of year again. The malls are packed with holiday shoppers. Eggnog is available at every convenience store, and the Christmas specials are running non-stop on every television network. And it was while watching one of those television specials when I was hit with one of the profound questions of life.
The special was Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town, one of those Rankin-Bass productions. Using the same-named song as a springboard, it attempted to tell the origins of Santa Claus. Sadly, though, you can tell it was made in the late 60’s. According to the special, Santa began his career as a rebellious youth, shaking up the establishment be violating an unjust law. The unjust law in this case: the banning of toys. Does that fit with the mentality of the 60’s or what? It even had its fair share of psychedelic animation at the special’s end. It came when the local school teacher, Ms. Jessica, who had been Santa’s willing partner in this law-breaking, realized that she had to go break Santa out of jail, that she loved him, and thus sang a tender love ballad. During this ballad, we had the traditional 60’s symbol of woman becoming liberated and freeing her mind: she let her hair down. So, she got some magic corn from the Winter Warlock, fed it to reindeer to make them fly, and then flew into the prison compound to bust out Santa. They spent the rest of their lives on the run. Oh, and since no preacher would marry them, they stood in the forest before the Lord. But I digress. Back to where I was going.
Watching this special, I soon got drawn to the character of Ms. Jessica/Mrs. Claus. When we first met her, she was the uptight schoolmarm who assisted in enforcing this law, but when Santa presented her with a gift, her heart was warmed and she became Santa’s accomplice, eventually falling in love with him. Something about that just got the feminist in me going. Right now in my life, the feminist in me could best be personified as L, the girlfriend of my friend Chuck. Actually, I’m wrong. She’s not Chuck’s girlfriend. She is a fine, upstanding, member of the community, working for social justice, and pursuing the betterment of society. At this moment in time, she just happens to be dating Chuck. She gets upset when I call her “Chuck’s girlfriend,” because she is an enlightened feminist who knows that she is her own person, and not just the extension of some guy. With this philosophy tickling the back of my brain, I came to a startling realization.
We know absolutely nothing about Mrs. Claus. As time progressed, she became nothing more than some female extension of Santa Claus. How does she spend her time at the North Pole? What does she do all year? What drew her to this Claus fellow? What’s her first name? My god! She doesn’t even have a first name! Plus, she seems to have been screwed out of all the good Christmas stuff. There are no Christmas songs about her. There is no holiday special detailing her origin. The only thing I can think of was some piece of fluff made-for-TV musical that came out a few years ago called Mrs. Santa Claus, starring Angela Lansbury. But that was about an adventure of hers in 1910 New York, nothing about her origins. This resulted in my new profound question of life: who exactly is Mrs. Claus?
Actually, when I was writing that paper for my “introduction to women’s studies” class a year ago, this would have made a much more fascinating topic than “An Analysis of Women in Star Trek.” While there have been countless TV documentaries detailing the life and adventures of the real Santa Claus, how come no attention was ever devoted to his companion and life-mate? Was she the willing partner and accomplice to her husband’s deeds? Does she ever think that her husband is married to his work? Was she there at the beginning, or did she meet Santa along the way? How come they never had kids? Hey! When I think about that last question, I also realize that we never learned the origin of the elves…. No! Don’t think dirty thoughts! Not at this time of the year, when Santa is watching you.
Oh, if only someone could go to the North Pole and talk to her! Interview her! Get her side of the story on this whole delivering-toys-to-the-world thing. Does she share in her husband’s magic powers? Think about it. If Santa watched little girls, wouldn’t that make him some kind of dirty old man? Maybe Mrs. Claus does that part of the watching thing. And what if Santa is incapacitated some Christmas Eve? Is it Mrs. Claus who goes out and delivers toys to the world? I’m sure she’s more than capable than driving a sleigh and reindeer team, and sliding down chimneys and all that. Oh, if only I could interview her. But I’m unemployed right now, and can’t afford an expedition to the North Pole.
This is evolving into my latest week-long obsession. At this time of year, the A&E network always shows their documentary on St. Nicholas. Was this saint a married man? In fact, how did the whole Mrs. Claus mythos develop? Was it a poor answer to the feminism movement, just simply giving Santa a wife? Actually, how come feminism hasn’t reached the North Pole? Sure, the special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer featured male and female elves working along side each other making toys, but do the female elves worry about the glass ceiling? Has a female elf ever been made shop-boss, the foreperson if you will? How high can a female elf rise in the North Pole? But again, I digress. My current interest in not North Pole politics, but Mrs. Claus.
I’ve got to start something. I’ve got to try something. If no one else is trying to figure out who this Mrs. Claus is, then perhaps it’s up to me. It’s best to start at the top. I think I’ll write a letter to Mrs. Claus. I’m sure she shares her husband’s address. But knowing how the North Pole operates, I’ll probably end up with one of Santa’s form-letter answers. The next step will come with those historians. I’m sure in all the research done on St. Nicholas, something about his wife must have come up. We must know how much of her life she has sacrificed to the world. We must know how she and Santa ended up together. Who knows? Perhaps she’ll finally be recognized as more than the devoted wife at the North Pole. Perhaps in five years, we will sing songs about her! Perhaps there will be TV special about her, showing us how she came to be!
And, perhaps finally, she will be given what is guaranteed to all of us by the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights: a name of her own. Fear not, Mrs. Claus! Your story will be told.