‘Spreading Christmas cheer, 365 days a year!’ 

Alabama author Rachel McDaniel reads her book, “Mrs. Claus Saves Christmas Day” to a group of children at the Hanceville Public Library on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2023. (Cayla Grace Murphy)

Alabama author hosts storytime at Hanceville Public Library 

HANCEVILLE, Ala. – The Hanceville Public Library’s children’s area was packed Wednesday morning for a few reasons: December birthday celebrations were in order, a general Christmas party was on the schedule and, perhaps most exciting, a visit and storytime with Mrs. Claus herself, portrayed by Alabama author Rachel McDaniel.  

A professional Mrs. Claus impersonator, McDaniel has amassed quite a following online and in person, not only for her jovial play of Santa’s doting wife, but also as an accomplished author. She wrote and published “Mrs. Claus Saves Christmas Day” to read to all the littles she meets during her school and library tours. McDaniel said the book came to fruition from a need to keep kiddos hooked into storytime, and with books centered around the fabled Mrs. Claus few and far between, she decided to bridge the gap herself. 

Alabama author Rachel McDaniel grins with a gaggle of kiddos at the Hanceville Public Library on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2023. (Cayla Grace Murphy) 

“I realized there weren’t many books about Mrs. Claus, and the books that are, are longer and couldn’t keep their attention,” she explained, mentioning a lifelong love of writing made the book a breeze. She finished the entire storyline in just one day, with the actual book coming together about a year later. 

“It took almost a year to complete with the illustrations,” she said, gesturing to the colorful and inclusive art that helps convey the message McDaniel wants to spread. “I wanted a sweet message, one of love and believing in yourself!” she exclaimed.  

McDaniel referenced how the message ties back to her stepping out in faith to become Mrs. Claus in the beginning – and credited a fellow (younger) Santa for giving her the push to do it now, despite seeming a bit young to play the experienced Mrs. Claus.  

“Well, last year I was inspired by a friend. He was in the process of becoming Santa. I thought this was something I’d have to do when I was much older, so when I met him (I) thought, ‘Well, I’m going to do it, too!’” she laughed.  

In August 2022, a TikTok account bolstered her confidence and helped her find her people.  

“I started posting stuff on TikTok, and that kind of blew up, and I realized that other people love Christmas as much as I do!” she grinned.  

McDaniel is eager to continue “spreading Christmas cheer, 365 days a year!” as she puts it, and has offered a free digital copy of her book for all, right in time for Christmas Eve. “Mrs. Claus Saves Christmas Day” is available for free download on Kindle Dec. 23-24, 2023; paperback copies are available on Amazon for $12.99. 

To keep up with McDaniel and her future readings, follow @mrs.hollyjollyclaus on TikTok, Instagram and Facebook. 

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