Childhood Recollections of Christmas
My first recollection of Christmas was my riding the back of my father. He walked us past the living room where the Christmas tree and presents were located. I can't remember why he was carrying me. Perhaps I was ill, but I don't recall being ill at all. In fact, as I peered into the living room I saw a white wooden horse....a rocking horse...and I shouted: Horsey...Horsey... and then everything went blank and the next thing I knew is that I was riding the Horsey. Horsey had that new-old smell, like something that had been packed in moth balls. Had I seen Horsey before? Had Santa packed him away one Christmas and was just now delivering the rocking horse? With Santa's long list this made perfect sense to me. This was a present intended to reach me earlier, bu there must have been some sort of mix up. And for this I forgave Santa Clause.
I remember on several occasions I would try to sneak down stairs to catch a glimpse of Santa Claus, but I never caught him. My parents would tell me that if he caught me trying to catch him, he may not leave the gifts. Well, Santa Claus must have found out I was trying to catch him because one Christmas he left me a naked doll, while my sister got a doll that was beautifully dressed. Maybe Santa thought boy dolls didn't need clothes. But the next Christmas, he made up for his mistake. He brought me a complete set of dolls: Snow White and the Seven Dwarves! Even their little pouches were made of genuine leather. And their faces and bodies were well articulated. So you didn't need a sign to distinguish Sleepy from Grumpy. I enjoyed making up imaginary trips for the seven dwarves and all of them earning Snow White's approval. At first, I thought the evil Witch was not included in the set. But later I found out that my sister had stolen the evil witch. Oh, well...two of a kind, I thought.
A Childhood Logical Analysis of Santa Claus at Christmas
Every Christmas I asked the usual child questions about Santa Claus. How does he transport gifts all over the world in just a few hours? "He has the dwarves and the reindeer to help him," came the reply. Yes, but....so I concluded that Santa and his legions were supernatural beings, coming to visit us once a year to insure the spiritual welfare of everyone. This way I didn't have to deal with the problems of transport, the problems of getting down the chimney (particularly when there was no chimney to worm down.) Santa Claus, the Elves, the Reindeer were all supernatural beings. They had always existed and would always continue to exist.
Later, I saw many Santa Clauses on the street when we shopped at the mall. I was aware that these were men just posing as Santa Claus. They were not the real one. So I thought it was hypocritical to sit on their lap and pour out my deepest desires for Christmas gifts when they were imposters. I asked Santa Claus who existed in a spiritual realm and this was very much like praying. But then, Santa Claus and his crew were divine beings. They lived in an entirely different realm than most mortals. Then there was the day my mother and I saw one of the imposters in the department store. I knew they were imposters and I assumed my mother knew the same. Nevertheless, for some reason, my mother insisted I sit on Santa Claus' lap...I did and afterward my mother asked me what Santa Claus said. I told her I was not listening to him. I noticed he had dirty finger nails and he smelled of BO and alcohol. So much for the imposters; I wanted the real Santa.
But then there were distractions. The distractions of presents Santa brought. There were games of all sorts, but most of all I remember the electric train that had all the features of a real train...There were many card games and board games, but my two favorites were hands on type games: The Erector Set and The Gilbert's Chemistry set..I was fascinated with making bridges with the Erector set and making magic (disappearing colors, etc.) from the chemistry set. By this time I knew that Santa Claus was a symbol for good will and Santa Claus and Christmas and my love of family all blended together. I had discovered the identity of Santa Claus early on when I took a foray into the attic and found all the presents that I had asked for. And then I discovered the sales receipt and after that it was a no brainer. Later, I got into the spirit of Santa Claus on a social and familial level. In our neighborhood, there were guys who delighted in dressing as Santa Claus. They would go into the malls and apply for the job. If they worked for a mall, they could make extra money for Christmas presents. They would also go into schools and make home visits and answer emails from little ones. There were Santa Clubs cropping up and professional Santas emerging. Some even cultivated the beard, the stomach and the HO HO HO by going to a Santa School in Michigan. Others did not go for the Santa motif that much. Instead, they concentrated on making the best eggnog and cooking the best moist and flavor-full turkey one can imagine. Others, were busy opening presents and singing carols with their family and friends. Some were trying out the new games. There were more homemade pies than would be eaten in weeks. Favorites were mincemeat and pumpkin pies. There was carol singing outside our home also. And some were dressed as Santa and some as Gnomes, Faeries and Elves. No one was dressed as a Reindeer, but some brought a replica of reindeer made from paper Mache
Such was the spirit of Christmas as I recall them..