One of my very favorite holiday programs is from 1974 and is called The Year Without a Santa Claus. There is something about the warmth and fun of the tale that gets to me, no matter how old I get.
In this story, Santa Claus gets discouraged because kids do not seem to appreciate him anymore. He eventually decides to skip Christmas this year. A couple of elves decide to find some proof that there is still Christmas spirit. They get into some trouble, leaving Mrs. Claus to intervene. Hence, our story.
Mickey Rooney gives great voice to Santa. He fits the part beautifully, while Shirley Booth gives some twinkle to her Mrs. Claus vocals. Dick Shawn gives voice to a new character, the Snow Miser, with George S. Irving doing the counterpart, Heat Miser.
There is plenty of heart in this 51 minute production. My favorite scene is probably the one where Santa has gone looking for the two missing elves and one of his tiny reindeer. He ends up having a meal with a family whose son thinks he is too old for Santa Claus. This prompts the song, “I Believe in Santa Claus” as sung by Rooney and Ron Marshall, who voices the dad. It is a touching number that gets to the heart of Christmas, and I just love it.
The Miser brothers are a hoot, and the songs that introduce each are great. They finally had a spin off done of the characters in 2008. At any rate, they are the quarreling siblings of Mother Nature, and watching them is a big part of the humor for this special program.
The animation in The Year Without a Santa Claus is terrific, which is what one would expect since this is a Rankin-Bass production. I really cannot think of a single thing I do not like about the show. From beginning to end, it keeps my interest. I sing along with the songs, laugh at the funny parts, tear up at the human emotion expressed, and in the end, I feel like it really is Christmastime. This special is one I actually watch a few times a year.