Monday, December 17, 2018

Santa and Me

The arrival of Santa Claus at malls across America used to be the kickoff to the Christmas season and was often a grandiose affair involving helicopter landings and high school bands. These photos with Santa harken back to those days when children waited in long lines expectantly, if a little nervous and unsure. They chronicle one little girl's (Judy Sutter's) visits to the man in red through the 1950's and '60's. 

My own memories of Santa Claus date back 46 years to my 4th Christmas. I recall sitting on his lap, telling him my wishes.  I don't recall where it was, but it was most likely our local department store, Famous Barr. Afterward, he gave me a little plastic toy shepherd. That's the earliest memory I have of him.  Family photos reveal an earlier, and more disturbing encounter.

While my sister looks on calmly, Santa had to restrain me.

A couple years later, I was a little unsure, but much calmer.

It was probably this same year that I recall a particularly magical Christmas Eve.  We celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve as opposed to Christmas morning, a German tradition.  Usually, my parents would herd the kids into the kitchen telling us Santa was arriving and we couldn't watch.  I never could understand why they could. But that particular year, my older brother Dennis walked me down to my paternal grandparents' house. My mother and grandmother were feuding over some forgotten slight (they're all forgotten one day) so I had to go to my grandparents' to receive my presents from them.  They gave me a large metal Ford blue toy tractor, nearly large enough to ride on.  Walking back up the street in the frosted darkness, my gift in my arms, my brother pointed to the roof of our house and said he saw a red glowing light.  I knew it had to be Rudolph. Straining to see, I thought I saw it too, but before I could be sure, my brother announced he's seen the sleigh dart off over the treeline, moving on to some other child's house. We hurried up the street and into the house to find Santa had indeed visited. My brother isn't with us any more, but every year I recall the magic he created that Christmas Eve and thank him. Memories like those shouldn't be forgotten.

If Judy or her family come across this, please contact me and I'll gladly return these memories as well.


  1. what a great memory. older siblings are great that way. while i do have some pix around xmas from when i was that age, i don't have ANY photos of visiting santa. i think by the time i came along my parents were DEFINITELY over it, especially since such a thing would involve a trip to Denver, and that was at least an hour away. no chance. but i do clearly recall leaving plates of cookies by the fireplace for him, and writing letters.

    1. If the photos are the proof, I only visited him twice. I never did the cookie thing though, probably because we celebrated in the evening. I never wrote letters either that I recall. I think my mom just told me she'd let him know if I told her.

  2. Sounds like your brother really helped make Christmas ok that year :) as for your sister looking calm in that picture are you sure? Looks like she is thinking man Im glad to be on this side of the chair.

    1. That's very possible. I can see her selling me out to Santa so she didn't have to sit on his lap.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...