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Bucket List Pick: “The Year Without A Santa Claus”

1974 Rated G

“The Year Without A Santa Claus” is a Television animated Holiday film of the early 1970’s.  It was a Christmas stop motion animated film by the iconic Rankin and Bass Productions.  The story is based on the Phyllis McGinley’s 1956 book of the same name. It was originally broadcast on December 10, 1974 on ABC.  It starred Mickey Rooney as Santa Claus,George Irving as Heat Miser, Dick Shawn as Snow Miser, Shirley Booth as Mrs.Claus, and Rhoda Mann as Mother Nature. 

If you were a kid in the 1970’s like I was, you remember all the Rankin and Bass stop motion films like “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (1964), “Frosty the Snowman” (1968), and “Santa Claus is coming to Town” (1970). However, “The Year Without A Santa Claus” is by far the best. 

Could you imagine a Christmas withouta Santa Claus?  Well it almosthappened.  Santa wakes up with a cold acouple of weeks before Christmas.  He isjust not feeling himself.  Every year,another ache, another pain, another cold. Is all the stress and fuss really worth the hassle?  He begins to doubt if anyone really believesin Santa Claus anymore.  He decides thathe is going to take Christmas off this year and stay in bed.  Mrs. Claus is flabbergasted at his choice andenlists the help of two of Santa’s elves (Jingle and Jangle) to help her findproof that people still believe in Santa Claus. 

The two elves set out with the youngest Reindeer Vixen but are shot down by crossfire between the brawling Miser Brothers:  Heat Miser and Snow Miser.  Heat Miser controls the worlds hot weather,and Snow Miser controls the worlds cold weather.  They are in constant competition for the love of their Mom: Mother Nature.  Jingle,Jangle and Vixen find themselves in Southtown, USA. They solicit the help of ayoung boy named Iggy who is also skeptical of Santa’s existence.  The two elves disguise Vixen as a dog and he is captured by the Dog Catcher and thrown in jail.  Jingle and Jangle plead their story to the town’s Mayor who laughs at their story but agrees to release their “Reindawg” Vixen if they can prove they are elves by making it snow in the warm temperature town of Southtown on Christmas. 

Jingle and Jangle call to Mrs. Claus for help and she immediately runs to help her two favorite elves. Meanwhile, Santa awakes from his nap and realizes that Vixen is gone.  He sets off after her and lands in Southtown.  He disguises himself as Mr. Klauss.  He comes across the boy Iggy and his family.  Iggy asks Mr. Klauss if he believes in Santa Claus.  He replies that“he believes in Santa like he believes in love.”  Over dinner, Iggy’s father retells a story of how Santa personally visited him one Christmas and he still believes. 

When Santa leaves with Vixen, Iggy realizes who Mr. “Klauss” really is and hooks up with Jingle and Jangle to help them with their quest.  Jingle, Jangle, Vixen, Iggy and Mrs. Claus visit the Miser brothers and ask them both for favors.  For it to snow on one day in Southtown in exchange for a warm day on the North Pole. Both brothers refuse to comply with Mrs. Claus’ request so she does what any one of us would do:  She goes to their Mother to sort out the situation. Mother Nature makes the brothers comply and they reluctantly obey.  As Christmas quickly approaches the children of the world get word of Santa’s situation and begin an outpouring of gifts to Santa letting him know how much he is appreciated.  It is the letter from a little girl that states she will have a “Blue Christmas” without Santa Claus that snaps him out of his funk.  He packs up his sleigh andheads to Southtown to visit Iggy and his friends to deliver their presents personally on an oddly snow filled Southern Christmas Eve.  Mrs. Claus ends the show with “Yearly, Newly,Faithfully, and Truly”, Santa Always comes.

This animated Christmas film is my favorite of All-Time.  Who could ever image a Year Without a Santa Claus?  You can now buy the DVD box set of all these Rankin and Bass great films.  I watch them with my family every year and marvel how these stop motion films have become part of our Christmas Traditions.  They are embedded in pop culture and take us back to the days before DVDs and Recordable TV’s where a kid would circle the days and times these films would be playing in their copy of the TV Guide. 

Who could forget the Heat Miser and SnowMiser songs (I am more of Heat Miser fan myself).  If the little girl singing “Blue Christmas” with the tear falling down her picture to Santa doesn’t give you goosebumps I don’t know what will.  “The Year Without A Santa Claus” is a telling of Christmas Tradition.  It is a story about Faith and Belief.  It is ultimately an escape back to our childhood to a time of innocence.  It is a film that will never be forgotten and will make everyone believe in Spirit of Christmas forever.  I give this film an emphatic 4 out of 4 stars and should be seen by Believers everywhere this Christmas Season.  Happy Holidays Everyone!

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