Thursday, December 22, 2016

For the true holiday spirit, watch "The Year without a Santa Claus"

I believe in Santa Claus, like I believe in love ...

It gets me every year, and it's been doing that for more than forty years. As the holiday season rolls around, and everyone makes it a point to watch and talk about their favorite Christmas movies, there is only one answer for me: "The Year without a Santa Claus" is the best one of all.

The 1974 claymation classic features the voices of Shirley Booth and Mickey Rooney, and it's based on the wonderfully sweet and sentimental book by Phyliss McGinley who captures in a story all the mystery of the Christmas spirit. "The Year without..." is not the traditional take on the holiday themes of family and gift giving, and it is a truly original look at the values of love and generosity that remarkably get a re-charge every December, even amidst the crass commercialism that's been growing in strength since McGinley first penned her tale.

The story presents a unique challenge for the traditional Christmas characters, as Santa begins to doubt the necessity or relevance of his yearly ride to bring joy and goodwill wrapped up in toys for children. Nursing a bad cold and feeling a little old, Santa ponders the possibility of taking a holiday. It's up to Mrs. Claus and a couple of lovably loyal elves to go out into the world and find a just a hint of that "Christmas spirit" to convince Santa that it's all worthwhile. Of course, Santa eventually needs to head out after the crew after they run into trouble in an uncaring world, and it's in those moments that the writers and producers of the show revive the wholesome and simple beauty of the season.

If you've never seen it, or you just don't remember how special it is, take time to remember the spirit of Christmas. Watch TYWASC, and you will "believe in Santa Claus."

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