Mrs. Santa Claus

In light of the holiday season, a little Nat King Cole analysis seems appropriate.

On the flipside of the Cole’s 1953 single, The Little Boy that Santa Claus Forgot, was a cheery song about the wife of Santa Claus. It reveals assumptions and stereotypes relating to gender in the 1950s. An analysis of nat-kingthe song in context of the burgeoning middle class nuclear family ideal during this decade will be a valuable addition to the confirming history of how entrenched these assumptions were.

“Of course you all know how hard Santa Claus works to make all the toys and various presents that make a Christmas,” says Nat. “And when you think of Santa Claus you naturally think of all his helpers. But there’s one helper who seems to have been gotten lost in the shuffle.”

The next line from Cole reveals assumptions about what the role of a woman in the 1950s was:

“Now who do you suppose does all the cooking, cleaning, and washing in the workshop and keeps things humming in general. Yep kids! There really is a Mrs. Santa Claus!”

Is it not apparent that if a child was to be able to “suppose” these household duties were for the wife (as opposed to a maid or a servant), that this was the expected norm in the United States? And her name is not Mrs. Claus or Behqdefaulttty Claus or Nancy Claus. Her name is Mrs. SANTA Claus. The important elements of her identity seem to lie not in her name, or her unique qualities, but in the name of her husband and how she supports him. The song continues:

Who feeds the reindeer all their hay?
Who wraps the gifts and packs the sleigh?
Who’s helping Santa every day?
Mrs. Santa Claus

Analysis: The “work” of the household is done by the patriarch. The responsibilities of the female are simply an act of “helping” and not necessarily “work.” Just as a wife might “traditionally” pack a lunch for her husband, Mrs. Claus packs the sleigh. Santa Claus makes the toys and gifts, but it is the responsibility of the wife to take those materials and “domesticate” them by wrapping the gifts.

Who keeps his red suit looking nice?
Who does he turn to for advice?
Who gives the brownies all their spice?
Mrs. Santa Claus

Analysis: Of course Mrs. Claus takes care of the washing and maintenance of clothing. Perhaps she is a personal dry cleaner. And of course, she bakes.

She pitter-patters all around the workshop
The whole year long
Amid the happy clatter of the workshop
She sings a merry, merry Christmas song

Analysis: She is not an integral part of the “real work” in the workshop. She is almost aloof to the work, unconcerned and unaware of the day-to-day tasks of the “other helpers.” She simply

Who reads the notes from girls and boys?
Turns in the order for their toys?
Fills every heart with wondrous joys?
Mrs. Santa Claus

 

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8 thoughts on “Mrs. Santa Claus

  1. What an interesting analysis! It hit me how little I think about Mrs. Claus and what her role is. Nat King Cole really shows the expectations of women at the time through his song. I wonder what it would be different if it were written today?
    Also, the point of her being called “Mrs. Santa Claus” made me laugh because I recently had a conversation with some friends about starting a movement online this year giving her a first name, because we really never hear it! The 1970 film “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” dubs her Jessica before they’re married, but after their marriage she’s mentioned by name only once more – not as Jessica, but as “Mrs. Santa Claus.” This is seen throughout history, as women’s identities are often “covered” by the identities of men. With that in mind, it’s even a bit surprising that Nat King Cole sang a song about Mrs. Claus being independent from her husband, even if very stereotypical of women’s roles.

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  2. It’s interesting the argument that women lose their identity after they are married. No longer do they have their previous last name, but the are referred to Mrs. so and so. Mrs. Claus, The first lady, society tends to label women by their husbands occupation.

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  3. This song is so interesting! On the one hand, it definitely confines women to the domestic sphere, forcing them to fit a certain mold of what the ideal housewife is. On the other hand, though, Nat King Cole make Mrs. Claus seem so integral to making sure that everything in Santa’s workshop is going well that it almost seems to glorify her a little bit. It’s not a good thing that all she’s apparently good for is housework, but he’s at least making the argument that she’s important in the shop.

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  4. It is interesting how much this song reveals about what society thought of women and wives during the 1950s. Mrs. Santa Claus obviously had been unknown and unconsidered before this song, and while she was interesting and fun for kids to imagine, she did not have the power of Mr. Santa Claus.

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  5. This is interesting, because their motivation to point out the influence and role of an otherwise forgotten woman may have felt to them like they were doing a favor to women. Yet, the overall message is that Mrs. Claus is merely an appendage to Santa Claus. While Santa’s work involved magic and created excitement and wonder, Mrs. Santa Claus’s work was just the full household work assigned to every other woman.

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  6. While the song does a good job of showing how important Mrs. Clause was to work surrounding Christmas, it also relegated her just to the domestic work rather than helping deliver the presents.

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  7. This song is one I have never heard of before. Being raised in a house that was quite anti-Santa I tended to just dismiss Mr. Clause himself and his wife as childish. The 1950’s return to domesticity is quite apparent in this song in how Mrs. Clause was doing all the housework. Of course she existed and helped but she did not do the real work of building toys.

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  8. This is really interesting, I have never hear this song before. This shows the tension often present in women’s issues. It is empowering for women that Mrs. Claus is actually being acknowledged when so much focus is on the man (and male reindeer). It is also positive that her work is being recognized as honorable. However, the restrictive labeling of gender roles and how this confines household work to women’s work. It is also degrading that she does not have her own name but is labeled through the coverture mentality as Mrs. Santa Claus without her own identity and purpose.

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