Doubting Santa

Mrs. Claus is doing the work and not getting the credit

Mrs. Claus wrapping just one of millions of gifts. Photo: Shutterstock

Bad thoughts about Santa

Forgive me if I burst your bubble. Please accept my apologies if I am totally off-base. I ask you to ignore the political correctness of me making gender-related stereotypes that may not be true in your case. I know that what I’m about to say doesn’t apply to EVERYONE.

But it DOES apply to Santa.

Let me be quick to point out that I love the holidays and that Christmas is my favorite time of year. I am not a Scrooge or a Grinch. I enjoy the season. I get off on the adrenaline rush of hunting for memorable gifts, the joy of parties, giving to my family, the artistry of wrapping, the baking of cookies, the cooking, planning, and prepping. All are activities that (most of the time) exhilarate and excite me.

But the older I get, the more I realize that Santa is a scam.

Are there real men out there who act like the mythical Santa? Men who take responsibility for the holiday and who actually enjoy those duties? Men who make lists and shop for every friend, family, and acquaintance in their circle? Men who make sure that hairdressers, vets, and service providers are not forgotten? Men who have gifts on hand, bake cookies, and wrap presents for hours? Men who plan decorations, meals, pictures, and Christmas card mailings?

Maybe. But it’s not Santa.

In view of the suggestive evidence, compiled from scholarly articles, popular opinion, and anecdotal evidence, I’d like to reconsider Santa’s role as a good guy.

He is taking credit — with a wink and jolly guffaw — for work he doesn’t do. You’ve heard the old phrase, “Behind every good man is a woman?”

Mrs. Claus is at home slaving away, paying attention to details. All Santa does is sit and supervise, then drive around in a fancy vehicle one night of the year.

Santa waving to his fans. Photo: Shutterstock

Not only do I doubt Santa, I resent him

He does little of the work and takes all the credit. (Well, sometimes he does mention the elves, but only as employees and mass-manufacturers rather than partners in the venture of spreading joy through toys.) And I’ve NEVER heard him thank Mrs. Claus for all her efforts on his behalf.

Doesn’t seem fair, does it?

The real spirit of Christmas is Mrs. Claus.

And I am not the first to think this.

Psychologists note that women are more likely to be the primary force behind Christmas celebrations.

“…when it comes to exchanging gifts and keeping our kinship network strong, it’s women more than men who do the work. In my culture, at least, women still take more responsibility for gift selection and gift-giving. Indeed, if we trust the science, then the jolly red-suited Santa that we love has to be a woman. No two ways about it. Men just aren’t as likely to find the same meaning from wrapping presents. — Michael Ungar, PhD.

Santa’s outfit

It’s easy for me to understand the pleasure derived from wearing red velvet and thick white fur. However, such an outfit is not the usual attire for a modern man. One anonymous writer quips, “most men would rather be caught dead than be caught wearing red velvet.” Is it possible that Mrs. Claus envisioned and designed the flashy fabrics of Santa’s suit as a marketing ploy? As a memorable fashion statement? If so, she should be applauded for a stroke of creative Claus genius that’s lasted through generations.

Santa’s deer

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game points out that male reindeer lose their antlers at the beginning of winter, often in late November or early December. Female reindeer, however, keep their antlers until after birthing season in the spring. So not only is the force behind Santa probably a woman, the whole team of reindeer— from Dasher to Blitzen — are really strong, athletic female animals unfairly labeled with male pseudonyms. (It’s even been suggested that the use of female reindeer explains why Santa was able to find his way around the world before the advent of GPS.)

Again. Santa is taking credit for work of his female transportation team. Even worse, he’s buried their identities under male names.

Santa’s work ethic

Katherine Lee Bates was a American author. You may know her name because she wrote “America, the Beautiful.” A very astute woman.

In 1889, a hundred and thirty years ago, Bates wrote a poem about Mrs. Claus. In “Goody Santa Claus on a Sleigh Ride,” Mrs. Claus, after doing all the work, wants to go along with her husband on Christmas night. She begs. She chides. She teases.

Santa, must I tease in vain, Deer? Let me go and hold the reindeer,
While you clamber down the chimneys. Don’t look savage as a Turk!
Why should you have all the glory of the joyous Christmas story,
And poor little Goody Santa Claus have nothing but the work?

It would be so very cozy, you and I, all round and rosy,
Looking like two loving snowballs in our fuzzy Arctic furs,
Tucked in warm and snug together, whisking through the winter weather
Where the tinkle of the sleigh-bells is the only sound that stirs.

You just sit here and grow chubby off the goodies in my cubby
From December to December, till your white beard sweeps your knees;
For you must allow, my Goodman, that you’re but a lazy woodman
And rely on me to foster all our fruitful Christmas trees.

While your Saintship waxes holy, year by year, and roly-poly,
Blessed by all the lads and lassies in the limits of the land,
While your toes at home you’re toasting, then poor Goody must go posting
Out to plant and prune and garner, where our fir-tree forests stand.

There’s more where that came from. But you get the point. Mrs. Claus was doing all the work while Santa got fat and lazy.

Santa’s management of crew

Do you think Santa is managing the moods, personalities, job schedules, department shifting, emotional needs, conflicts, and ideas of thousands of busy elves? Is he both detail-oriented enough AND sensitive enough to keep up with that great volume of correspondence from children all over the world?

Plump, jovial-but-lazy, Santa? The North Pole is a facility that has to be managed efficiently, and laid-back, laughing Santa probably isn’t doing it. Research suggests that management is most likely undertaken by Mrs. Claus because women are just better bosses.

“…women are better at methodical management and goal-setting, openness, sociability and supportiveness, as well as ability to innovate, take initiative, and communicate clearly.

Give credit where credit is due

Santa may take the credit, but I bet at the North Pole — and probably at your house, too — someone besides Santa is doing the hard work.

Stop giving all the credit to Santa, that imposter.

Give kudos to whoever it is at your house who plays the part of “Mrs. Claus” and does the real work of Christmas.

Photo by hue12 photography on Unsplash

Melissa Gouty is a writer-for-hire who applauds the people who are doing the work of Christmas . She hopes they get more credit than Santa does.

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Writer, teacher, speaker, and observer of human nature. Creative content for the literary world. Follow me at, Twitter, or Facebook.

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