Toys are hereby declared illegal, immoral, unlawful AND anyone found with a toy in his possession will be placed under arrest and thrown in the dungeon. No kidding!
Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town
TV special: Rankin-Bass, 1970.
In those dour northern countries, a world of snow, ice, lederhosen, and elves, Santa Claus started his career as an outlaw. Or at least that's how the Rankin-Bass special would tell it. Staring Mickey Rooney as the title guy, Santa Claus is a rather countercultural Christmas special about defying authority in order to spread joy.
This is Santa as Robin Hood, Santa as Coyote--defying authorities, bringing chaos to Sombertown, but ultimately freeing the children and bringing a sense of joy back to the world.
Claus, an orphan baby, is found on the steps of the Sombertown town hall; he's brought to the Burgermeister Meisterburger, a miserable old man, who tells his henchman to take the infant to the orphanage. Instead, the magic winds of the mountains blows the baby to the Rainbow River Valley, where the Kringles--a family of elves--find him. The Kringles take the baby to Tanta Kringle, the queen, who names him Kris decides to raise him and make him a toymaker like the rest of the elves.
Of course, the elves have no one to give the toys to, since they're little old men who can't cross the mountains, ruled by the Winter Warlock. When Kris reaches adulthood, he becomes the Kringles' deliveryman, bringing toys to Sombertown.
Sombertown, like its name, is gray--and the site of red-haired, red-suited toymaker shocks the community; naturally, toys are outlawed in Sombertown, and presumably bright colors, too. Kris charms the children and their schoolteacher Jessica to break the laws and find ways for him to sneak them toys when the Burgermeister isn't looking. He comes like a thief, breaking into houses, down chimneys, but instead of taking, he gives toys to brighten up a town terrified of the Burgermeister's authority, all while preaching a message of joy and love.
This is all accompanied by a folk-pop soundtrack and psychedelic interludes, such as when Jessica lets her hair down and starts dancing through a technicolored dreamworld, or when Kris, using a toy train, teaches the Winter Warlock that change is possible, that cruel men can become good, even if it's in baby steps. In exchange, the warlock teaches him magic.
Naturally, Kris's antiauthoritarian message of fun and rebellion leads him to be captured and thrown into jail, as is his whole family. Jessica breaks them out of prison by feeding Kris's reindeer friends the Warlock's magic feed corn that can make them fly.
Kris is now an outlaw; he changes his name back to Claus, grows a beard, and is living like Robin Hood in the woods. And, like the good hippies they are, Kris and Jessica get married not in a church with a priest, but in the woods, with no preacher, only God, nature, and the elven Kringles as witnesses. They're pursued by the authorities, and eventually move to the North Pole in order to escape the laws of the Burgermeister.
The drab, conformist world of the Burgermeisters eventually dies out. While Santa is no longer an outlaw, however, his ideas, we're assured, are still mocked:
Little Girl: He's so wonderful. Everybody must love him.
Narrator: Well, most everybody. Oh, he's not considered an outlaw any more. But there still are some...
Ebenezer Scrooge: Eh, bah, humbug.
Disgruntled Retailer: Christmas is a bother. The noise, the crowd. I really wish it were outlawed.
Businessman: How can they talk about Santa Claus when there is so much unhappiness in the world?
But then, they miss the point, as the narrator tells us:
Lots of unhappiness? Maybe so. ...But what would happen if we all tried to be like Santa and learned to give as only he can give: of ourselves, our talents, our love and our hearts? Maybe we could all learn Santa's beautiful lesson and maybe there would finally be peace on Earth and good will toward men.
Or, like St. Columbanus said, Amor non tenet ordinem--love has nothing to do with order.