When my mother was a child they wrote their letters to Santa and put them outside on the window sill with a stone on top. They were told the Christmas Robin would pick them up and take them to Santa. The children would stand transfixed to the window until they were called away to come and help with something. When they returned the letters were gone.
The experience for my brother and me was slightly different. As soon as the Sears Christmas Wish Book came through the door the list was made for Santa.
Going to visit Santa was a Christmas tradition. We went into Toronto to see Santa at the department store. We would go in on the train and meet my father. The next stop was Santa. We were dressed in our very best clothes and had our picture taken. This was an important picture as it was sent to both sets of Grandparents every year.
After our pictures were taken and we had gotten our candy canes from Santa we were allowed to buy one very small toy in the toy department. Then it was off to a restaurant called Diana Sweet’s for dinner.
When we were finished with dinner we walked to Eaton’s and Simpson’s department stores to look at the windows that were specially decorated for Christmas. It was dark and cold outside and the windows were alive with animatronics, lights, colour and activity; Santa’s workshop, a family around the Christmas dinner table, a mother doing her Christmas baking, families doing their holiday shopping, children playing in the snow. These windows were a wonder to behold for a small child.
There were vendors with red and yellow carts that had freshly popped popcorn and roasted chestnuts for sale. They also sold a variety of colourful suckers. We were allowed to have one item from the cart.
Then it was time to drive home. We were tired but still watched the lights of the billboards and advertisements flash by us on the highway leaving Toronto. These are some of my fondest memories of Christmas. It was my family enjoying a special time together that did not cost a lot of money but created fun, laughter and memories.
I believe in the spirit of Santa and the joy that he brings to children around the world at this time of year.
©2010 – Blair Archival Research