02 December 2013

Day 2 of the 25 Days of Nightlight Readings: The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum

Off in the far edge of the forest in Baum's Land of OZ, comes a story of Santa Claus. (Who knew Santa appeared in OZ?!) In this fantastical story of Santa's life, Baum narrates a story of a baby abandoned at the edge of the woods and taken into the care of a wood nymph (origins from 'Fairy Hills' in heathen Scotland and Ireland—Baum is German and Scots-Irish). As the boy ages, he soon finds he can no longer stay with the nymph, and ventures out on his own to help the suffering children of the world.

In this short story, Baum highlights the traditions of Santa: crafting toys, descending chimneys, flying reindeer, and his eventual immortality. Baum's explanation of Santa's immortality is the most compelling, as Death comes for Santa and various wood spirits, nymphs, fairies, and elves decide to grant him the Mantle of Immortality.

Baum's story of Santa is little known, as it was published toward the end of his writing career (1902) and the OZ story seemed to be sucked dry. The story was unpopular until Rankin-Bass produced an hour special. Today, it still remains "lost" amid the popular children's holiday classics: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Charlie Brown Christmas, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, and Frosty the Snowman.

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