How I have never heard of or come across this book is beyond me. I absolutely love L. Frank Baum and was sure I had read all of his books, even those that had nothing to do with the Wizard of Oz. This book was published in 1902, and tells a very interesting story of how Santa Claus came to be. There are several places in it that explain the concept of stockings hanging by the fireplace, the Christmas Tree, and I found the most interesting part of the story being as to how the parents got involved in helping Santa get the presents ready for the kids.
From the end of the story: “So, to lighten his task, which was fast becoming very difficult indeed, old Santa decided to ask the parents to assist him. In the story: “Get your Christmas trees all ready for my coming,” he said to them; “and then I shall be able to leave the presents without loss of time, and you can put them on the trees when I am gone.” And to others he said: “See that the children’s stockings are hung up in readiness for my coming, and then I can fill them as quick as a wink.
And often, when parents were kind and good-natured, Santa Claus would simply fling down his package of gifts and leave the fathers and mothers to fill the stockings after he had darted away in his sledge. “I will make all loving parents my deputies!” cried the jolly old fellow, “and they shall help me do my work. For in this way I shall save many precious minutes and few children need be neglected for lack of time to visit them.”
Besides carrying around the big packs in his swift-flying sledge old Santa began to send great heaps of toys to the toy-shops, so that if parents wanted larger supplies for their children they could easily get them; and if any children were, by chance, missed by Santa Claus on his yearly rounds, they could go to the toy-shops and get enough to make them happy and contented. For the loving friend of the little ones decided that no child, if he could help it, should long for toys in vain.
And the toy-shops also proved convenient whenever a child fell ill, and needed a new toy to amuse it; and sometimes, on birthdays, the fathers and mothers go to the toy-shops and get pretty gifts for their children in honor of the happy event. “In all this world there is nothing so beautiful as a happy child,” says good old Santa Claus; and if he had his way the children would all be beautiful, for all would be happy” (L. Frank Baum, 1902)
What a clever way to explain to children the story of Santa and how he came to be. I am going to look for this book so I can get it for my girls, I think they would really enjoy it. But it will have to be an updated printing, because the majority of the ones I am finding online are a fortune! There is one on Ebay right now for $1200.+, with 20 colored plates and it is a 1st edition I believe. Wow! I would love to have it, but a bit out of my buying range 🙂