Meeting the woman behind Santa
by CHRISTY ARMSTRONG Banner Staff Writer
Dec 24, 2013 | 731 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jessica Claus, or simply Mrs. Claus as she is perhaps better known, has been busy helping her husband, Kris, get ready for his annual Christmas Eve trip to deliver toys to children all over the world.

Kris, also known as Santa, has been making his list and checking it twice to see who has been naughty and who has been nice.

However, behind many a good man is often an especially good woman.

While many movies and shows have been made based on her and her husband’s lives, Claus said the 1970s television special “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town” was one of the most accurate she had seen.

Though many biographers have chosen to focus on Claus’ role as a doting, hot-cocoa-making wife, there is more than might meet the eye at first.

Claus is an educator who decided to make and deliver toys for children to help bring a bit more joy to their lives.

She met her husband while working as a school teacher in a place called Sombertown, where the children were sad because they could not play. Sombertown Mayor Burgermeister Meisterburger had made the possession of toys illegal.

It was during that time that the young, red-headed teacher fell for a loveable “criminal” named Kris Kringle. Having been raised by elves who had mastered the toy-making trade, he began illegally giving gifts of toys to children who had none. She began helping him as he went from house to house.

The mean, stingy mayor had police searching everywhere, and the couple ran into the woods so they wouldn’t go to jail. There, they married in front of a few close friends, and they fled to the North Pole, where they live today.

They also changed their last name from Kringle to Claus, and Kris grew a beard so he could go incognito.

“We know that we technically broke the law, but the law was wrong,” Claus said. “Spreading love and Christmas cheer to kids should have never been outlawed.”

Today, the children of Sombertown become anything but somber on Christmas morning. Having toys is no longer illegal, and families celebrate the day with much laughter and singing.

Though they used to try to deliver toys as often as they could, the Clauses ultimately decided to focus on just one night. They chose Dec. 24 to help remind people of “the night of profound love,” the night when Christ was born.

“That’s part of why Kris said he started giving those gifts in the first place — and why I decided to help him,” Claus said. “God gave his gift of love to us that night, and I love the idea of giving gifts to other people to celebrate that.”

Nowadays, instead of teaching the children of Sombertown, she serves as principal of the School for Elfin Studies, which is located near Santa’s workshop. The school offers 12 grade levels, like some private schools here do.

The schedule is pretty similar too, with elf children enjoying a break each summer. However, instead of a normal Christmas break, students enjoy a well-deserved break starting the day after Christmas.

Around November, the older students end their regular classes and begin elective classes made to help them learn new job skills — everything from Christmas candy cane making to electronics testing. It is a lot like the career and technical education classes that local high school students take.

While she mainly just serves as principal the rest of the year, she teaches a couple of the seasonal electives, her favorite ones being the Christmas cookie baking and sweater knitting classes.

She is also the woman in charge of the workshop when her husband is out flying the friendly skies to deliver gifts to girls and boys all over the world with his reindeer employees, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and Rudolph.

Claus wears many hats — and not just the red one with white trim. She is a teacher, a principal, a pastry chef, a seamstress and a pretty good manufacturing plant manager to boot.

Everyone stays busy at the North Pole year-round, with the Clauses and the elves taking vacations during the spring and summer. Claus said her favorite places to visit are warm, beachy locales like Hawaii — though she does love sampling the Southern food that can only be found in places like Tennessee.

Since the North Pole’s manufacturing facility operates throughout the year, Claus said people are always trying to find its location.

Santa’s compound at the North Pole receives only a handful of visitors each year around Christmastime. All make the trip by invitation only, as the children lucky enough to get tickets to ride the Polar Express train do each year.

As Santa’s place is not on any normal map due to security concerns about boys and girls on the “naughty” list finding it and causing trouble, Claus said it is up to everyone to believe that it does exist — along with all the magic that happens there.

As some fortunate filmmaker showed in the movie that bears the same name as the Christmasy train, Santa’s sleigh bells only make their melodious ringing sounds for those who truly believe, which would make for a disappointing visit for any skeptics who might drop by.

“Even if people don’t believe in us, we will continue to spread Christmas cheer like we have for years and years,” Claus said. “The bells will continue to ring for those who do believe.”

Still, she said there is still hope for the longtime skeptics to redeem themselves.

Even when Santa is not making his Christmas Eve journey, people all over the world — the ones on the nice list — are looking for ways to better the lives of others by listening to and helping them with whatever it is they need. There is plenty of bad in the world, but there is also quite a bit of good.

“Even if someone doesn’t believe, I hope that they try to carry on the spirit of giving,” she said. “That shouldn’t be a problem for all the nice boys and girls who live in Cleveland, ‘The City With Spirit.’”