Retro Review: The Year Without A Santa Claus

BY JOHN CARTER JR

Based on the 1957 children’s book by Phyllis McGinley of the same name, The Year Without A Santa Claus, starring Shirley Booth and Mickey Rooney, was released December 10th, 1974 on ABC. The film focused on the story of Santa Claus, who came down with a cold due to a lack of perceived Christmas spirit. With Santa Claus being extra and Christmas being canceled, Mrs. Claus takes it upon herself to save Christmas from behind the scenes. 

With the help of two elf subordinates, a reindeer, and a little boy Mrs. Claus convinces the forces of nature, Conservative America, and Santa Claus himself to have a little Christmas spirit themselves. Mrs. Claus saved Christmas and here is how she did it.

After the announcement that Santa is taking a holiday, Mrs. Claus contemplates taking on the role of Santa herself, even going on to sing in her song “I Could Be Santa Claus ” that she fantasizes about it a lot, but after she nearly fools Jingle and Jangle Bells (the aforementioned elves) she decides on another plan. Sending the elves on reindeer back down to the rest of the world to find some Christmas spirit and to see if anyone still cares about Santa. 

After a series of events, the elves find a means of inspiring Southtown USA in the Heart of Dixie. Bringing Snow to a place that it hasn’t had in a hundred years. Through Mrs. Claus’ charm, determination, and mediation between Snow Miser, Heat Miser, and (the top dog herself) Mother Nature, a compromise is made not only to inspire Southtown but Santa Claus as well. 

The Year Without A Santa Claus is a delicious musical classic that tugs on the nostalgia strings. It not only introduced the Miser Brothers, whose theme songs are synonymous with the film and Christmas itself, but it also gave us a depiction of Mrs. Claus, who was the hero of Christmas. Not often had stories been told of an older woman being the main protagonist in television or film. While the film certainly pushes the commercialism of the belief in Santa Claus in our faces, it also teaches children that anyone in any given story can be important and is to the overall journey. Anyone can have agency. 

Mother Nature was important in bringing her sons together, the Miser Brothers were important in bringing snow to Southtown, Iggy (the young boy mentioned before from Southtown) was important in bringing the spirit to his neighbors, and the children of Southtown and the planet were important to Santa. While the world’s children were important to her, it was Mrs. Claus’ love for her sick husband that led her to fix this situation. 

“Anyone can be Santa; why can’t a lady like me?” – Mrs. Claus

Mrs. Claus is an integral part of this Christmas story. Just as mothers, grandmothers, sisters, and wives are to their families worldwide, Mrs. Claus is the woman behind the scenes running the show with no thanks from the children of the world. Women are foundational to the human cultural experience and Christmas festivities are no different. The Year Without A Santa Claus is the story of how one woman saved Christmas, how anyone can be the story’s hero, and how you can have a great impact on the lives of many without them ever knowing.

I give The Year Without a Santa Claus 8/10 Candy Canes for its wonderful Christmas tunes, the Miser Brothers, and for the Hero of Christmas, Mrs. Claus!

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