Who Knew?

Meet Santa Claus … and his husband

Rex W. Huppke

There’s a new children’s Christmas story on bookshelves this year, and it begins, wonderfully, like this:

“This is Santa Claus.”

There’s a drawing of a happy St. Nick. He’s black.

It continues:

“This is Santa Claus’s husband, Mr. Claus.”

There’s a drawing of a cheerful, portly white man with a thick beard sipping a cup of hot chocolate. The text continues: “They are married.”

Undoubtedly, in the age of “War on Christmas” conspiracies and former Fox News host Megyn Kelly’s insistence that Santa Claus is white, those three sentences and the sweet illustrations accompanying will really boil some people’s eggnog.

And that’s a shame, because “Santa’s Husband,” a book written by Oak Park native and “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” staff writer Daniel Kibblesmith, is as true and humble a Christmas tale as any Santa enthusiast could want.

Illustrated colorfully by Ashley Quach, the book tells the story of Santa and his husband and how they work together, and dance, and play games and occasionally get in arguments before making up over a plate of cookies. Their lives, we see, are little different from most married couples, with the notable exception of feeding flying reindeer and dealing with elf labor disputes.

And that is the beauty of this holiday tale. The fact that Santa Claus is black and gay has little bearing on the story. What it’s really about is accepting that every family sees Christmas in a different way.

“If the book is about anything, it’s about there being room for everybody’s Christmas traditions to be equally valid,” Kibblesmith told me. “And arguing against people who sort of want to keep it for themselves and become outraged when its purity is questioned. More than anything, it’s a Christmas book. It’s really about your own family being unique, and special and having its own unique and special Christmastime.”

In the book, Kibblesmith writes: “Maybe Santa Clauses can come in all shapes and colors and sizes! Just like the families that Santa Claus visits all over the world.”

The book evolved from a tweet Kibblesmith sent out after he and his wife, Jennifer Wright, marveled at the response some people had last year when they learned that the Mall of America in Minneapolis was featuring a black Santa Claus:

“Me & @JenAshleyWright have decided our future child will only know about Black Santa. If they see a white one we’ll say ‘That’s his husband.’ ”

Quach responded to that tweet with this: “boom. new children’s book.”

And here we are.

“We had a simple mission,” Kibblesmith said. “To write a default introduction book to Santa Claus while just changing some details that in our perfect world would be relatively superficial. He still lives at the North Pole, he still delivers presents to families all over the world on Christmas Eve. The idea wasn’t to do something knee-jerk to provoke conservatives, but to write something that is sweet and stands on its own merits.”

Given the overarching spirit of Christmas — peace on Earth, goodwill to all, that sort of thing — it seems reasonable to appreciate that the holiday, as seen through your eyes, may not look the same to others. And another family’s view, or traditions or interpretation of a holiday tale doesn’t damage, negate or intrude on your own.

Take the now-traditional outburst of outrage over Starbucks holiday coffee cups. One year they’re not “Christmasy” enough, and therefore they must be destroying America. This year the cups feature two arms holding hands, and since the gender of the people each arm belongs to can’t be determined, there is fear in Christmas-absolutist-town that it could be a gay or lesbian couple.

UNDECK THE HALLS, FOLKS. CHRISTMAS IS RUINED!

This is all, of course, remarkably stupid.

And that’s why a simple children’s book like “Santa’s Husband” is so valuable. Had Kibblesmith written it differently, it could’ve been a snarky jab at homophobic Christians or at Christians who stubbornly insist that Santa Claus must be white.

But it’s not that at all. It’s a charming story about the rich diversity of Christmas traditions in America and around the world.

It’s a different kind of Christmas story, yes, but it reminds us that different is what we all are.

And that different is a wonderfully normal thing to be.

rhuppke@chicagotribune.com

What more do I need to say other than Liberals Are F*cking Nuts. And if you agree with the tripe written by this idiot Rex Huppke, you are f*cking nuts too.

– The Liberator

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *