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Megan Leach’s first children’s book Secret Santa introduces us to the 11-year-old girl who saved Christmas, Samantha Claus! Samantha is half-human and half-elf, her mother is the sister of Santa Claus, and her father is an elf named Jingle. As the niece of Santa Claus, she and her family live right by the North Pole. Samantha even runs a farm where she raises magic reindeer.
The author of this girl power Christmas story is Megan Leach, a creative based in the East End of Long Island. The release of Secret Santa marked the release of their first children’s book. We all know the classic Christmas stories starring ole’ Kris Kringle, but Megan shares a new narrative. We’re extremely proud of Meg as they are a The Tempest Editorial Fellow alum.
Meg’s love of Christmas and writing inspired them to publish Secret Santa. They have been writing since they were a child and truly value the art of storytelling. Throughout their childhood, one of their favorite activities was writing stories. Although in their everyday life, they do a lot of nonfiction writing, Secret Santa dips into their passion for crafting fiction narratives that are playful and working to write stories that relate to others.
A fun fact about Secret Santa is that it was written in the early hours of Christmas morning two years ago, in 2018. Meg’s motivation, slight insomnia, and love for Christmas were the three key ingredients for writing the first draft for Secret Santa. Additionally, Secret Santa is a work that is completely their own, from the narratives to the drawings.
Historically, the narrative of Santa Claus is typically a masculine dominated narrative, and female roles are often overlooked in Christmas stories. The character of Samantha breaks this pattern and provides readers with a female Christmas narrative. Samantha Claus’s agency and power are rooted in her self-determination and her skills with reindeer. A man is not the only person who can save Christmas and bring joy to young children. This story makes it clear that Santa and the spirit of Santa do not have to rely on a single man. As the book says, “Santa’s in all of us.”
With this story, Meg helps young girls find their place in traditional Christmas narratives and understand that the spirit of Santa is not confined to the constructs of a man in a red suit. Meg also makes it clear that there can be multiple roles and stories for women in the universe of Christmas narratives. If a young girl or woman of any age wants a role in a narrative that excludes them, they can write themselves in and make a space for themselves in that story!
Meg says, “By telling female-forward stories about Christmas, [women] can reclaim that piece of heroism that is in the [holiday]. Christmas is just not a pedagogical story about a man that flies around each night.” Secret Santa is definitely a girl power Christmas story that will put the story of Santa and Christmas into a light that goes against dominant portrayals for young children!
We typically do not get a lot of new Christmas stories, so it is refreshing to see a story that’s goal is to empower and give women agency in Christmas mythology. In the future, Megan hopes to continue writing stories similar to Secret Santa that goes against gender roles and dominant roles.
If you love Secret Santa, look out for more of Megan’s work. From speaking with them, I know that they are planning on writing more children’s books and even releasing a novel, so you can definitely look forward to more of their work in the future!
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