Perhaps you’ve read the history of Santa Claus. You’ve heard tales of Kris Kringle, the myth of a generous soul in a Nordic country who put pennies in the wooden shoes of impoverished children.
But the historical record overlooks his wife. There’s no mention of the swarthy hausfrau who helped it all happen.
Mrs. Claus, Edith to her friends, will tell you she didn’t ask for this life, if you catch her in an unguarded moment with friends.
But in the same breath she will explain she has never been happier. And she was never surprised when her husband opened his heart in a gracious act of selfless charity.
“It’s just who he is,” she gushes.
But we know he can’t do it all himself. Behind every generous man, every Santa Claus, there is a Mrs. Claus. She is the one who cooks dinner on late nights of toy making and list-keeping. She is the one who fusses at Santa to keep his diet so he can extend his years of bringing joy around the world.
And let’s face it. We were all impressed by her ingenuity when she invented the “Cookies for a Later Day” bag which Santa takes with him now on his long Christmas journey. Santa genuinely believes that this is a magical bag that keeps those cookies fresh for the rest of the year.
He gathers them at every hearthside, sometimes not even waiting to put the toy under the tree first. Sure, he samples them. Just a little bit at every house. But the rest go into the bag.
“For later,” he thinks.
But no, he won’t be eating all of those cookies later. It’s all part of the plan.
Sure, through most of January, the bag is full, and each time he digs his hand in there, out of sight beneath his workbench, his must scrape a little closer to the bottom of the barrel.
This bag keeps barely one of every million cookies that is deposited. But don’t tell Santa. He eats heartily until mid-February.
“Edith?” He gently inquires. In the kitchen, perhaps in the middle of drying a water glass, or in the living room turning the page of a Hallmark Romance novel, a wry smile forms on her face.
She knows this tone of voice. She knows the question she is about to field next. She has practiced it for a century now. It is deep magic.
“I seem to be running low on cookies.”
“Oh my,” she exclaims. But her worry is false. “Have you eaten all the cookies already? Why, it’s only …” she pauses for effect, but she knows well the date. “Why, it is barely Valentine’s Day.”
Her husband tries to avoid whining. “It just seems they run out so soon these days. Ever since …” his fingers trace the opening to the bag.
“Oh Kris, they used to run out so much sooner. Remember, how the bag keeps them fresh? You used to set them all on a plate in the workroom.”
Thanks to Edith Kringle’s wisdom, we will all enjoy Christmas for many years to come.