Posted by: Phil Anderson | December 21, 2014

The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus

This time of year there are dozens of good stories to enjoy in books, movies, and nightly Christmas specials. Some focus on various aspects of the Nativity story, from wise men and shepherds to donkeys and the little drummer boy. There are myriad versions of A Christmas Carol with ghosts from Christmases past, present, and future. And most plentiful of all are the interpretations of the Santa Claus myth, explaining his elves and reindeer, his flying sleigh, and how he delivers to billions of children around the world in just one night.

One of my favorite versions of the Santa Claus story is The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum, originally published in 1902.
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Baum also wrote The Wizard of Oz, thirteen Oz sequels, and many other fairy tales, and his take on the jolly, old elf is planted firmly in the realm of fantasy. It makes no attempt at a scientific explanation of Claus’s process or methods, which strangely makes it more believable than other versions. If one can accept that he was raised by wood nymphs among the immortals, everything else makes perfect sense.

Another aspect of Baum’s biography that I appreciate is that it does not come into direct conflict with the true story of Christ’s birth. Often the origin of Santa Claus is combined with the origin of Christmas; it is a holiday because Santa delivers gifts on that day. In Baum’s version however, it is clear that the celebration of Christmas predates Santa Claus. He is allowed the use of the reindeer only one night a year, and Christmas Eve is the date assigned.

The part of this rendition of Santa that cements it (in my opinion) as the best, is the logical statement of how every child in the world can receive a Christmas gift.

“I will make all loving parents my deputies!” cried the jolly old fellow, “and they shall help me do my work. For in this way I shall save many precious minutes and few children need be neglected for lack of time to visit them.”

In this simple explanation, Baum answers the most vexing logistical question in the Santa Claus myth and at the same time protects those parents who carelessly get caught wrapping presents or stuffing stockings.

Those are just a few reasons this is my favorite Santa Claus story. What’s your favorite Christmas story and why? Leave comments below.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

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