25 December 2012

Who Brings Dad His Neckties and Stockings?

The last act of The Road to Oz is basically cross-marketing, with L. Frank Baum bringing in characters from most of the other fantasies he’d published in recent years as guests at Ozma’s birthday party.

Among those titles was The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, whose title character makes a grand entrance, as I’ve quoted before:
“The most Mighty and Loyal Friend of Children, His Supreme Highness—Santa Claus!” said the Chamberlain, in an awed voice.

“Well, well, well! Glad to see you—glad to meet you all!” cried Santa Claus, briskly, as he trotted up the long room.

He was round as an apple, with a fresh rosy face, laughing eyes, and a bushy beard as white as snow. A red cloak trimmed with beautiful ermine hung from his shoulders and upon his back was a basket filled with pretty presents for the Princess Ozma.

“Hello, Dorothy; still having adventures?” he asked in his jolly way, as he took the girl’s hand in both his own.

“How did you know my name, Santa?” she replied, feeling more shy in the presence of this immortal saint than she ever had before in her young life.

“Why, don’t I see you every Christmas Eve, when you’re asleep?” he rejoined, pinching her blushing cheek.

“Oh, do you?”

“And here’s Button-Bright, I declare!” cried Santa Claus, holding up the boy to kiss him. “What a long way from home you are; dear me!”

“Do you know Button-Bright, too?” questioned Dorothy, eagerly.

“Indeed I do. I’ve visited his home several Christmas Eves.”

“And do you know his father?” asked the girl.

“Certainly, my dear. Who else do you suppose brings him his Christmas neckties and stockings?” with a sly wink at the Wizard.

“Then where does he live? We’re just crazy to know, ’cause Button-Bright’s lost,” she said.

Santa laughed and laid his finger aside of his nose as if thinking what to reply. He leaned over and whispered something in the Wizard’s ear, at which the Wizard smiled and nodded as if he understood.
Santa displays his magical power in two ways:

  • by awing not only Ozma’s chamberlain but Dorothy Gale herself. She hasn’t acted “shy” or “meek” since her first meeting with the Wizard.
  • by knowing where Button-Bright lives—something I’m not sure even Baum had settled on by that time.

On the other hand, even Santa’s power has limits: he can’t think of any better presents for Button-Bright’s dad than neckties and stockings. Dads can be like that.

1 comment:

Glenn Ingersoll said...

I suspect the sly wink suggests Santa really has nothing to do with the ties & stockings ...