One of the most popular (mythological) figures in our culture is Santa Claus. He's typically depicted as a jolly, rotund, bearded old man in red and white who travels around the world on a flying sleigh pulled by reindeers to give presents to children on the eve of Christmas. It's a story that no one will stop sharing, so Santa's not retiring anytime soon. Although media continually focuses on this famous man, little is known about Mrs. Claus. Compared to her partner, Mrs. Claus doesn't get as much screen time or mention. However, she's had some interesting and compelling portrayals in the past that illustrate how she matters to the story of Christmas. Here are some of our favorite mentions:
Sally Writes Her Christmas List To Mrs. Claus
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the airing of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" and since it's release, the animated short has been revered as a holiday classic. It's had two more installments and throughout the entire series, there are common themes and revelations. One of those consistent aspects is Sally's (Charlie Brown's younger sister) interest in Mrs. Claus. The animated series always tackled what the meaning of Christmas is from the perspective of children and Sally is firm in believing that Mrs. Claus has a presence in the holiday season. She even writes her Christmas list addressed to the wife of Santa. Our favorite line is how she asks Charlie Brown what Mrs. Claus's full name is. Charlie responds saying he thinks it's "Mary." Sally then writes to Mrs. Claus saying she's glad Mrs. Claus kept her name: Mary Christmas.
Mrs. Santa Claus
A televised musical special from 1996, Mrs. Santa Claus is a story about Mrs. Claus (portrayed by Angela Lansbury), who's feeling under-appreciated for the work she does to keep Christmas running smoothly. Based in December 1910, Mrs. Claus decides to try a new route for the sleigh when Santa ignores her. Unfortunately, during her spontaneous trip around the world, the reindeers have an accident and she lands in New York. But she doesn't go back to the North Pole immediately: instead, she gets involved in the suffragette movement and advocates against child labor which were the significant issues of the time. You would never think that politics, feminism, and the joyous and caring Mrs. Claus would be in the same movie, but such a movie exists. Plus, it's a musical. In the end, Mrs. Claus, seeing her significance and influence, returns to Santa Claus and they ride around the world together, as equals.
How Mrs. Claus Saved Christmas
The creation of Mrs. Claus was in early literary works–she was simply a mention, a few lines about how Santa Claus had a wife helping him in his Christmas mission. Since then, her presence has gained depth and definition and Jeff Guinn's book, How Mrs. Claus Saved Christmas, is a great addition to the portrait of Mrs. Claus. The book is the second installment of Guinn's Christmas Chronicles and focuses on Layla Claus, the wife of Santa Claus in mid-1600s England. Layla stands as an individual with her own passions and ambitions and in this novel, Mrs. Claus is quite the protester as well. Guinn manages to create a detailed story that combines historical facts with holiday cheer with Layla as the focus, where Parliament actually passed a law that made the celebration of Christmas illegal. It's a great book for the holiday season and, most importantly, Mrs. Claus is shown to have agency and purpose in the holiday tradition.