Christmas Stories: Santa Claus’s PartnerDecember 9, 2013
So, Thomas Nelson Page was apparently a Lost Cause-er. Gross. I’m glad I didn’t love Santa Claus’s Partner. I mean, it’s fine. It’s a nice, workmanlike Christmas story with no indication that the author was super into slavery. It just doesn’t make me want to read others of Page’s books, which is nice because I wouldn’t want to give Dead Thomas Nelson Page the satisfaction.
Also, while I’m not actually going to spend this review referring to the main character by Benedict Cumberbatch names, well…I want you to know that I could. Because his name is Berryman Livingstone, and if Butterfly Creamsicle is close enough for the internet, then Berryman Livingstone is, too.
I’m also not going to refer to him as Ebenezer Christmascarol, but that’s what he is. His Bob Cratchit is John Clark, his senior clerk, who has eight kids and an invalid wife. His Ghost of Christmas Past is himself.
Livingstone keeps all his clerks late on Christmas Eve mostly because he’s forgotten it’s Christmas Eve, but also because he’s an asshole. He doesn’t have that first excuse for stopping kids in the street from sledding or knocking over a beggar on his way home, and, you know, he doesn’t think he’s a bad guy, he’s just massively self-centered and thinks having a lot of money means he can do whatever he wants. So, again, an asshole.
Once he’s home, he has a bit of an existential crisis, brought on by a headache and no dinner and the realization that his parents were much nicer than he is. He gives himself a short guided tour of his past and comes out of it a better person, but before embarking on his new life as a decent person, he has to earn the approval of Clark’s daughter Kitty, who hates him.
Kitty is maybe six, and was probably my favorite part of the story — instead of being saccharine and cute and angelic, she’s just very, very serious in that way that kids often are. She gives the impression of taking Livingstone on trial, and not being terribly impressed with him. And it’s easy to sympathize — I wasn’t terribly impressed with him either. I did enjoy the way everythign fell into place for him at the end, though. There’s a bit where he realizes that he actually does have friends, he just hadn’t realized it because he was viewing everyone’s behavior through the lens of being a dick.
Basically, Santa Claus’s Partner ticks all the boxes — Christmas spirit, Unity of Christmastimes, small children, a faint whiff of romance. I just might have liked it more not knowing that the author was nostalgic for slavery.