The Twelve Flicks of Christmas

A ben’s TEN Holiday Series

Get the Scoop You Won’t Find Anywhere Else on 12 Christmas Movies Old and New
[See complete list of reviews]

The Year Without Santa Claus (1974)
Directed by Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin, Jr.
Rated UR
Starring: Shirley Booth, Mickey Rooney and Dick Shawn

Review by Jeff Koch

Conventional Synopsis:

Santa wakes up in early December feeling sick and unmotivated to do his job. Down in the dumps and pessimistic about the lack of Christmas spirit, he decides to take the year off from delivering gifts. It then falls to Mrs. Claus (with the help of two elves, Jingle and Jangle) to lift his spirits and convince him that the Christmas spirit is still alive and well and that he will truly be missed.

Beneath the Surface 

What does it mean to believe in Santa Claus? As children, we all believe, and the magic of Christmas exists at an almost exaggerated level. I’m sure we all remember laying in bed on Christmas Eve, unable to sleep from pure joy and jubilation, anxiously awaiting the morning when we can jump out of bed and rush to see what Santa has brought us.

Then we grow up, put childish things away, and stop believing in Santa. We still love Christmas, but its magic and meaning turn to other things. For many of us, after years of battling excessive consumerism and expensive travel and familial stress and a variety of other ills, Christmas becomes something to dread, or at the very least, something to suffer through. We no longer experience any magic, and the Christmas Spirit has completely evaporated. We become our very own miniature versions of Scrooge.

We all know there is no literal Santa Claus. But when we are young, what is it that we are believing in? Is it just about the presents? Or is there something more to it? Could it be that Santa  Claus is a metaphor for something larger, something stronger, some reciprocal, altruistic energy in the universe? And that by believing in this power, we become part of it, and essentially make it stronger, and make it real?

Christmas isn’t about giving gifts; giving gifts is the metaphor of the true spirit of Christmas. What we are really doing is giving of ourselves, giving of our love, and putting that energy out into the world for our family, our friends, and for everyone. “Santa Claus” is the manifestation of that. By holding the Christmas spirit in our hearts, and by continuing to believe in “Santa”, we make that energy stronger, and we justify and dignify our beliefs. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy; the more we believe, the more it is true. “Santa Claus” is real, because he lives within all of us.

Ratings

Cocoa Factor = 9 out of 10
How good is this one for cozying up with a fire burning, a hot beverage of your choice, and your new Snuggy?

Magicality = 8.5 out of 10
How well does this one transport you back to the timeless wonderment beyond rationality when Christmas enveloped you in magic? AKA “The Santa Clause factor.”

A Date with Grandma and Aunt Bernice = 10 out of 10
How appropriate/awkward is this one to watch with relatives of all ages? Will hot kissing scenes or male rear nudity spoil the mood?

Tiny Tim’s Big Truths = 9 out of 10
From the mouths of babes come life’s most profound lessons. At the heart of this flick, how authentic, heartfelt and lasting is the message? Does it transcend Xmas clichés and ring bells?

Overall = 9 out of 10

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About bensten

Teacher, writer, blogger and spiritual practitioner. Managing editor of bensten.wordpress.com.

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