TOT TERRORS: The Snow and Heat Misers

I often get asked about what influences my work as a writer. Inspired by the amazing website Kindertrauma–which is right up my alley–I’m compiling all of my childhood (and some adult) terrors.

Misers Year Without a Santa Claus 5

The Year Without a Santa Claus: Heat Miser’s lair inside the volcano reminded me of hell.

In the 1970s, no holiday was complete without the Rankin/Bass Christmas Specials. From Thanksgiving on, we’d anticipate seeing the full-page ads in the TV Guide heralding the air dates for Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey, Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, and Frosty the Snowman. These were special nights: our parents let us stay up later than usual, and we were allowed to make Jiffy Pop or pilfer a few of Mom’s freshly-made sugar cookies.

The 1980s saw the beginning of major change. Our household went from having tiny televisions rigged with rabbit ears that only got a few channels—usually three major networks, a public broadcast and a couple of locals—that stopped airing after midnight to having cable that ran 24 hours (I’m not an expert on the changes to the broadcast industry; I’m just going on what I remember). As the years wore on, there were fewer and fewer of these specials that aired. Some of them stopped airing all together. Over time, I forgot about most of them.

Except, of course, for the things in them that scared the crap out of me.

Talk to anyone who grew up in the Rankin/Bass era and they’ll agree—some of these contained some pretty frightening stuff. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’s Abominable Snowman of the North’s distant roar was bone-chilling, the death of Nestor the Long-Eared Donkey’s mother was profoundly sad (in a blizzard, she covered him with her body to keep him warm; when he awoke, he had to crawl out from under carcass), and Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town’s The Winter Warlock sported a nightmare-inducing sneer full of triangular teeth. Of all of these, it was Snow and Heat Misers from 1974’s The Year Without a Santa Claus that disturbed me the most.

While Rudolph was easy to remember because it aired every year, there was at least a decade (or maybe two) when I was out of touch with The Year Without a Santa Claus, and could only recall it as “that Christmas special with the scary snow and fire people.” Thanks to yet another evolution in the way we are delivered visual entertainment, these once-vanished specials started making the rounds on channels like ABC Family (now Freeform) or were released on DVD and BluRay—and I was able to reconnect.

Although I now love what Heat Miser stands for (those of you who know me know I’m a tropical girl!), I can understand now why he freaked me out as a kid: unlike Snow Miser, who’s creepy but a bit goofy, Heat Miser is angry; he actually looks threatening. His minions are also significantly more menacing than Snow’s. And I think being able to melt things when you touch them is also a macabre win.

Misers Year Without a Santa Claus 7

The Heat Miser had the power to melt things–here, it’s a shovel, but later in the song, it’s the moon!

You can watch the Snow and Heat Miser songs on YouTube here. If you’d like to own The Year Without a Santa Claus, you can get it with Nestor, The Long-Eared Christmas Donkey and Rudolph’s Shiny New Year here:

About kristipetersenschoonover

A ghost story writer who still sleeps with the lights on, Kristi Petersen Schoonover’s fiction has appeared in many magazines and anthologies; her traditionally published books include a short story collection, THE SHADOWS BEHIND. She was the recipient of three Norman Mailer Writers Colony Residencies and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. She serves as co-host of the DARK DISCUSSIONS podcast, as founding editor of the dark literary journal 34 ORCHARD, and is a member of both the New England Horror Writers and the Horror Writers Association. Follow her adventures at

Posted on December 11, 2017, in Tot Terrors and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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