Monday, December 02, 2013

December Daily #2: Santa Claus

Today's topic is Santa. Since our kids are older, we do not have any recent photos of them sitting on his lap. However, I thought I would share some Santa Claus related memories from my own childhood. Our house is just two blocks from the house I grew up in. My mother still lives there and loves to decorate it for the holidays. She says that her house looks like a Christmas ornament store. Perhaps she is right. I love the way she celebrates the season. When I saw today's prompt my mind went straight to the photos my mother lovingly displays and adds to each year. I thought for sure that each photo was a Santa photo. However, when I went over to photograph it, I found that they were few that included Santa. Still, that simple display is magical for me.
(The one in the cowboy hat is me.)

I am certain that we went to see Santa, but my mother is not a picture taker, so I guess those memories are more in our heads than on display at her house.

In the 1970's there were still big department stores downtown. Each one sported big, elaborate scenes that told stories. I especially loved the Nutcracker inspired displays. My mother would get a new outfit for each of us. We would bundle up in our heavy coats, our hats and mittens so that we would not get cold on the bus ride down town. We would have dinner at Woolworth's and then walk the length of the outdoor mall admiring the windows. Our goal was to make our way to the Santa's Village a the May D&F department store at the end of the mall. Out front people would be skating in a man made ice rink and the stores looked like something out of a Hollywood movie. Once in the basement we would wind our way through another elaborate display that was like walking through a Department 56 village, but the buildings were all about five feet tall. The fake snow was fluffy and deep. We'd enjoy music as we waited our turn to see Santa. An elf would guide us to his magical chambers, Santa would listen intently, shaking his head and taking notes. Upon leaving he would hand us each a small candy cane that was cut off a long roll of them.

The volunteer firemen in my town hosted a very special event each Christmas Eve where Santa would ride the fire truck up and down each street, visiting kids at their homes, handing out small stockings filled with candy and peanuts. His visit was much anticipated. You could hear him coming by the sound of the siren on the truck. We would step out to the sidewalk, hoping back and forth between our freezing shoeless feet, watching as Santa slowly made his way to our house. One year my mother purchased a fancy velvet bag which she filled with presents. As instructed, Santa stopped by for a visit, gave us our treats, our small gifts and took photos. Then he retreated, bag slung over his shoulder. I think the magic of that event enchanted my mother for a little while, until she figured out that Santa forgot to leave her special bag. She never did get that bag back and she retells that story each year. Sometimes I think about making a similar bag and dropping it off.

By the time we had our kids, May D&F was long gone. I search high and low for something as magical, but none was to be found. We did the next best thing which was to visit Santa at Echter's Greenhouse where his reindeer were hanging out and the store was filled to the brim with pointsettias and specialty Christmas trees. Ellie tells me that she was terrified of Santa for a while. I would have never of known that had I not asked.

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