Like all great literary works these days, “Santa’s Husband” started out as a joke on Twitter.
The year was 2016, and racists were responding ridiculously over the fact that for four days, one of the Santas at the Mall of America would be *gasp* black. Responding to the outrage on Twitter, “Late Show with Stephen Colbert” writer Daniel Kibblesmith joked that he and his wife, author Jennifer Ashley Wright, will teach their future children that Santa is black … and gay (just for good measure).
Illustrator AP Quach saw the tweet, pitched Kibblesmith on it as a children’s book, and almost a year later, “Santa’s Husband” is available for purchase in bookstores near you. The book itself tells the story of the home life of Santa (who, again, is black) and his husband (who is white, but often gets mistaken for Santa when he goes to help his husband out at mall appearances).
What began as a way to troll the Megyn Kellys of the world has become a really cute book with a pretty dedicated fanbase.
Sure, it still made some people pretty angry — like the person on Twitter who was upset that “[Tim Allen] did NOT OK this book” and they demanded that Kibblesmith “leave Santa ALONE,” or another person who wanted to know, “Where is the respect for tradition? The ideology of gender is going to [sic] far!”
If you ask Kibblesmith about it, however, he’ll tell you that there have been some pretty heartwarming and positive reactions as well.
In an email, Kibblesmith recounts one of the more heartwarming receptions the book received on video from a two-mom household and their toddler walking through a Target. “Looking at a coffee mug shaped like a traditional white Santa Claus, they ask [their daughter], ‘Who’s this?’ and she says, ‘It’s Santa’s husband!'” he writes.
“We also got an incredibly kind note from the chef and author Michael Twitty, who is black, gay, Jewish, and has a white partner,” continues Kibblesmith. “They’re gifting the book to his partner’s one-year-old nephew this year, and it’s inspiring that this child will grow up with a much bigger view of the world and the people in it.”
The goal of the book was to go beyond just trolling for angry responses, Kibblesmith stresses. The book could have easily been “a dashed-off, one-joke reaction to someone else’s knee-jerk reaction,” but he really wanted to write something that put a little happiness into the world, to add positive value, and to craft something heartfelt and sentimental.
“Our book stands alone as a complete, funny, heartwarming Christmas story, totally agnostic of any specific ‘War on Christmas’ talking points, and I think that’s what makes it work.”
In a way, “Santa’s Husband” helps highlight the best parts of Christmas and all other December celebrations.
Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, the Winter Solstice, or something else entirely, the end of the year is a great time to reflect on who we are, what our values are, and what we can do to bring joy to friends and loved ones in the new year. Maybe “Santa’s Husband” isn’t your thing, and that’s totally cool. For some people, however — such as the joyful girl with her moms in Target — this book gives them a sense of warmth and joy.
Isn’t that what the holidays are really all about?