Monday, December 6, 2010

The Classic Ruling Has Been Reversed: Kris Kringle Is Not Santa Claus!

There are several movies that our family watches every year between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Christmas is my favorite time of year, and annual Christmas movies are a big part of the celebration. One of our annual Christmas movies is Miracle on 34th Street (1947), though it’s hardly one of my favorites. I think John Payne and Maureen O’Hara are great, and young Natalie Wood is cute as a button, yet with each passing year, I find myself loving It’s A Wonderful Life a little more and loving Miracle a little less.

However, on to the main point. Something interesting came up during this year’s viewing of Miracle that warrants sharing. I realized something within the first five minutes that I had somehow never even considered before; the character of Kris Kringle is not Santa Claus. The movie never states exactly who Kris is, and after some analysis, I’m pretty sure he’s just a crazy old man who thinks he’s Santa Claus. I had always taken Kringle’s identity for granted, but the evidence against his being the real Santa Claus is overwhelming. Yes, I know that more than one character in the movie utters the line, “Faith is believing in things even when common sense tells you not to” (which I personally think is a dreadful definition), but I couldn’t help but find my faith shaken this year.

For starters, I don’t like the idea that Santa Claus is out of touch with reality. This Kris Kringle character openly refers to himself as Santa Claus, unaware of how strange that must seem to everyone around him. He doesn’t grasp that most grown adults don’t believe in a literal Santa Claus. He has no understanding of how his own myth factors into American culture. I know it’s only a matter of opinion, but I like to think that Santa Claus is a bit more competent than that.

Now for the bigger problems: what is Santa Claus doing roaming the streets of New York City one month before Christmas day? Shouldn’t he be in full preparation for the impending holiday? Added to that, why the heck would he accept a job offer from Macy’s department store? I find it highly unlikely that Santa would work a job in New York throughout the Christmas season. On his Macy’s employment card, Kris lists his address as “Brooks’ Memorial Home for the Aged” in Great Neck, Long Island. It sounds to me like good ol’ Kris wandered out the front door of his old folks’ home and stumbled into the Macy’s Parade.

Then there’s the scene where he strikes Mr. Sawyer on the forehead. Was that really necessary? The ethics of the act can be debated, but the idea of Santa Claus resorting to violence just doesn’t jive with other descriptions of jolly old St. Nick. Then, there’s his bit of vice presidential misinformation. In an effort to prove his intelligence, he asks Doris Walker, “Who was the Vice President under John Quincy Adams? Daniel D. Tompkins, and I’ll bet your Mr. Sawyer doesn’t know that!” I’ll bet so, too. In fact, I’ll bet that no one knows that, because it’s wrong. Sorry, “Santa”: the Vice President under John Quincy Adams was John C. Calhoun. In an effort to sound intelligent, Kris Kringle only demonstrates his confusion once again.

But wait a minute, you say: didn’t the United States government declare Kris to be Santa Claus? Kind of, though that’s really just a romantic way of saying that the mailmen dumped all the mail from the dead letter office onto this crazy guy just to free up some space around the office. Nothing is proven either way, and as for his magical act at the film’s end, all he really did was find a colonial house on sale and give Fred and Doris the address. His last act of insanity? He accidentally left his cane in the house. Way to go, Kris. I think it’s time to head back to Brooks’ Memorial (though it may be a difficult journey without your cane).

Yes, I’m being unnecessarily harsh, but I simply can’t allow this impostor to carry on any longer. Kris Kringle is a nice, charming old man who brings joy to many people’s lives, but he’s no more than that. As of this moment, I declare the New York State Court ruling of 1947 overturned; Kris Kringle is not Santa Claus!

1 comment:

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