Hey kids! Unkle Lancifer here and boy have I got a treat for you, it’s an early Christmas present from Kindertrauma legend Mickster! Our dear pal was kind enough to send us her views on one of our all time favorite Christmas specials, THE YEAR WITHOUT A SANTA CLAUS. Is there any greater holiday gift than having a friend who is as cool as Mickster? Not in my book! Take it away Mickster….
The title alone of this 1974 RANKIN/BASS classic sparked terror in the hearts of children. Like all RANKIN/BASS stop-motion specials, it features the voices of stars from the past. SHIRLEY BOOTH (TV’s HAZEL) voices Mrs. Claus and MICKEY ROONEY (ANDY HARDY Movies) once again voices Santa Claus. The special begins with Santa, who has a terrible cold, being advised by his doctor, who acts suspiciously like Ebenezer Scrooge, to stay home this Christmas. Santa proceeds to call the elves to “cancel” Christmas. Okay, how many Christmas specials over the years have frightened children by claiming that Christmas could be canceled? Of course, as adults we know this is ridiculous, but as a child, it is a traumatizing idea.
Sparked by an idea from Mrs. Claus, who does an awesome dance number in drag, those super intelligent elves Jingle and Jangle set out to find people that still believe in Santa. Jingle and Jangle bring Vixen along with them. All three end up in South Town and begin their search. The genius elves pretend that Vixen, who is suffering in the Southern heat, is a dog and she is thrown in the pound. Jingle and Jangle question a group of children to see if they believe in Santa, which they don’t. They do, however, meet one nice kid named Ignatius “Iggy” Thistlewhite. In the meantime, Santa finds out that Jingle, Jangle, and Vixen have traveled into the “cruel world.” Santa races to bring them back and meets Iggy. Iggy is promptly put in his place on the subject of Santa through a wonderfully sad song sung by Santa (in disguise as Mr. Klaus) called, “I Believe in Santa Claus.”
Excuse me, I have to wipe the tears from my eyes just thinking about this song. Mrs. Claus comes to get Jingle, Jangle, and Iggy. They all travel to see Snow Miser. Mrs. Claus requests that the Snow Miser let it snow in South Town, USA. What follows is probably the best remembered sequence in the special.
As a child, I found characters of Snow Miser and Heat Miser frightening. I think it was because they were so much larger than Mrs. Claus and the fact that they had creepy miniatures following them around. At the same time, Santa retrieves Vixen and returns to the North Pole. He receives a special letter from a little girl (singing “Blue Christmas”) that changes his mind about Christmas.
Sorry, I have use some more tissues as this song makes me weepy too. Let’s stop for a commercial break. Take it away Mother Nature!
With the intervention of Mother Nature, Heat Miser allows snow in South Town. All is well again as Santa goes out on his yearly trip. This special premiered in 1974 and I am sure I watched it then, but I was too young to be traumatized. However, I remember specifically being traumatized by it two years later in 1976. I was so upset at one point that I left the room crying. I was convinced that Santa was not coming. My mom had to bring me back to the living room to finish watching.
- “I could be Santa Claus”
- Iggy feels the guilt of not believing
- “The Snow Miser Song”
- “The Heat Miser Song”
- Don’t mess with Mother Nature!
- “Here comes Santa Claus!”