Mrs. Claus

I can’t believe the year has flown by this fast. It’s already time again for my Special Christmas Who’s Who! This year I took a trip to the North Pole and sat down with a very special lady – Mrs. Claus – to chat about Christmas, life, love, and of course, swap Christmas baking recipes because who better to swap with… am I right?

Going to the North Pole is always intimidating, a bit scary (as I don’t travel very much) and very cold, but the rewards are worth it. I was greeted with open arms and a cup of cocoa (no coffee up there!) and I met Mrs. Claus in her kitchen because she was knee deep in special orders for baked goods this time of year. I expressed my excitement and appreciation for her taking the time to chat with me just four weeks before Christmas and I hoped my poor timing didn’t affect which list I would appear on: the naughty or the nice! She smiled and said, “Don’t worry dear, Santa knows you’ve been good.”

Her cheeks were rosy. Her hair was cloud white and put up in a perfect bun. Her apron and red dress didn’t have a speck of flour on them, and she smiled for my entire visit with two dimples in her cheeks, a twinkle in her forest-green eyes, and she was covered in sparkles.  It was impossible not to smile when she looked at you. She offered me a plate of sugar cookies and we sat to chat.

My first question, which I have wondered about for most of my life, was what her first name was. She smiled (eyes still twinkling) as she said, “Why… it’s Mrs. dear.”  I didn’t find it as funny as she did but then she explained a bit about her history.

“I was first mentioned as the wife of Santa Claus in 1849, in the short story ‘A Christmas Legend’, by James Rees, a Philadelphia-based Christian missionary. It seems like I’ve been around for longer than that but so be it. Nick [as she calls Santa Claus] and I have been inseparable for as long as I can remember and I love him dearly. Santa has always been the face of Christmas and I’ve just been in the background but I certainly know I play a very important role in the holiday season.”

After that “Mrs. Claus” started popping up all over the place with many different names. She said, “I have been called Mary, Annalina, Jessica, Layla, Ahoop, Seeki, Martha, Kasey, Gretchen, and Santarina – just to name a few.  I decided with all these options that I would just let folks come up with their own name for me instead of revealing my true identity… it makes it more fun for me.”  I was grateful for her answer because I thought back to those days of not knowing my elementary school teachers’ names; it was always “Mrs. So and So”, etc. and when I eventually found out their real names, it was sometimes disappointing.

Since 1889, Mrs. Claus has generally been depicted in media as a fairly heavy-set, kindly, white-haired, elderly female baking cookies somewhere in the background of the Santa Claus mythos. She sometimes assists in toy production, and oversees Santa’s elves. It is worth noting that, when not portrayed as white-haired or elderly, she is often shown to have red hair. This could be because red/ginger hair is the colour that most commonly fades to white with age.  I probed a bit to confirm these things and it’s true. Mrs. Claus, when she’s not baking, helps out with toy production; coming up with many ideas for toys (Hey Gamers! Thank her for the new XBOX!) and she also assists with Elf duties and tending to the reindeer.  In her downtime she knits mittens by the thousands, handles all the letters that come to Santa, and keeps Santa on track with his duties. She says it’s no coincidence that GINGER is her favorite spice.

Between 1890 and 1960 Mrs. Claus wasn’t “seen” as much.  Her reappearance in popular media in the 1960s began with the children’s book How Mrs. Santa Claus Saved Christmas by Phyllis McGinley. Today, Mrs. Claus is commonly seen as a character adjacent to Santa Claus. Her personality tends to be fairly consistent.  She is usually seen as a calm, kind, and patient woman often in contrast to Santa himself, who can be prone to acting too exuberant.  Mrs. Claus told me that all of this was the truth! She loves being a bit of a mystery – even to this interviewer.  After I was done, there was still so much I didn’t know, but it was okay.  I was filled with cocoa, cookies and Christmas spirit… the interview was a success. Happy Holidays Everyone!

        Mike Butler