Looking for Santa

Today I go through the times that my family spent looking for Santa. When you are small the idea of Santa is a big deal. I remember well when I found out Santa was not real. I was crushed. A girl friend who had older siblings told me about Santa on the way to our dance class. I remember asking her if she was sure. Of course, I went home after dance class and asked my mother.

Mom did not lie she just said, “Santa exists in the hearts of all young children.”

My times of looking for Santa involved shopping trips to Buffalo. I think the Santa I saw most often was the one at Adam, Meldrum, and Anderson – AM&As for short. When I went there I stood in a long line waiting my turn to see Santa. I really do not remember anything he said, but I do remember things I asked for. I remember that I asked for a “Betsy Wetsy Doll” and I remember asking for a toy train. Those are two of the things that I never got.

Oh, I did get the train from my husband many years later. He bought me a little train to sit on the shelf in my kitchen the year that he finished making it. It still sits up there. I recall the clerk telling him she shipped one to her children s=who lived far away. When it arrived, the battery was dead. It must have been making its sounds the whole trip.

Back to my waiting in line. In those days the stores not only gave candy canes they gave small gifts. I remember getting a Parcheesi game. I was so excited that I could hardly wait to get home to try it out. I must have received other toys, but that is the one I remember. We also had a picture taken with Santa but we never bought one of those. They were too expensive.

When I was old enough to work during the Christmas season the store I worked in had the best Santa. He happened to be a Jewish boy who took on the job of Santa during the season, but he was excellent with the children. I know he was training to be a teacher and I think he probably made a very good one. He went to college with me.

When my children were small we visited the Santa that was in the Sears store in downtown Jamestown. He was such a good Santa and put the little ones at ease. That was a welcome relief because I had taken them to Jamesway and they both cried for that Santa.

The one at Sears was kind. The children relaxed and told him what they wanted. I remember Todd telling him he wanted books to read. Santa told him he could probably fill that request and asked what else he wanted. He told him that was all he wanted. Now he could not read himself at this pint but I always read to the children. I also remember Santa quizzing them about the real meaning of Christmas. My children knew the Christmas story so they told him all about Baby Jesus born in a manger. That seemed to make him happy.

The year we moved to Hickory Heights we were on a tight schedule to get ready for Christmas. A couple days before Christmas we put the finish on the dining room floor then walked out of the house to go shopping. Everything was a mess. There was dust everywhere. My mother helped me clean up the next day so that we were ready for company. The Christmas tree could not go up until the floor was dry.

That year my husband decided to ring the sleigh bells that we had. He went around the house with the bells when he came from the barn. The children ran from window to window to try to see Santa. As luck would have it the ground was wet and he fell. He went to the back door and told my mother that he needed clean clothes because he had fallen and was muddy.

When Sears moved to the mall things were different. The sweet, kind Santa was gone. In his place was one hired by the mall. It was just no longer the same. By then my children were getting older so that was all right.

Next came the grandchildren. We went to the mall to see Santa. That went okay but Santa was not particularly friendly. After waiting in line that was disappointing. We discovered quite by accident that there was a Santa at the corner store in Akeley. He was so good with the children. He even had whiskers! They sat on his lap and told him about what they wanted. The store owner took a picture of the children with a Polaroid camera and gave it to them. After that, that was the place we always went.

It has been a long time now since we had to look for Santa. The way Santa acts is very important. Let’s hope that if you take the children or grandchildren to see Santa that is kind and patient.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, PA. Contact at hickoryheights1@verizon.net

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