My Friend Santa
Carpet Journals' editor Maxine George shares her memories of
Santa and Mrs.
Canada Santa Claus has been around as long as I can remember which takes me back
many years to when I was a little girl on the prairie. I can recall my delight at waking
up on Christmas morning to find that there was a Shirley Temple doll under the
tree. In those days money was scarce. My single
aunt helped Santa deliver that to our tree.
My parents ran a general store in a small Alberta town. Christmas Eve was a
busy time. The store did not close until the last customer left town that
evening, which could be rather late. I well remember being excited and unable
to go to sleep on one particular Christmas Eve. My Dad came into my room and
quietly told me that I had get to sleep because someone had just been in the
store and told them Santa and his sleigh had been seen near Gilbertson's. Now
that was very plausible because Gilbertson's house was the one nearest the north
road into town. I've never tried so hard to get to sleep as I did that night.
When I grew up and became a parent we noticed that Santa had bells on his sleigh
and when the children heard the tinkle of those bells they too tried harder to
get to sleep.
There were no shopping malls with Santa or his helpers when I was growing up.
In my early years my only communication with Santa took place over the big oak
telephone that hung up on the wall in the store. Standing on a stool and
shouting up into the mouthpiece I had the thrill of actually talking to him!
Those calls happened to coincide with the time the town telephone operator's
fiancÚ dropped into the office to see her.
Now that I'm a grandparent, I personally know the man known as Santa. I saw him
one day at Canada Place. During the year, the only way you might
suspect he is Santa is because of his white curly beard. His beard is real you
know. He told me that he now lives on the B.C. coast in the summer, because it
is warmer there than up at the North Pole. However, very soon now, he and his
wife will be coming around to various neighbourhoods here in the Valley to see
some of the boys and girls. His helpers go to many of the malls, but he and his
wife try to come to as many places as they can before he flies off on his world
travels on Christmas eve. This year I hear Mrs. Santa might accompany him.
Santa is known by other names and wears clothes different from the familiar red
suit trimmed with white fur. His original name was St. Nicholas in Europe. He
was a Bishop around 340 AD and spent his life helping the poor and
underprivileged. He loved children and often went out at night disguised in a
hooded cloak, to leave necessary gifts of money, clothing or food at the windows
of unfortunate families.
North America, Santa became his nickname. We visited with Saint Nicholas once
in Murrayville, on December 5th, riding in a horse and wagon. Dressed in a
traditional long red coat and tall Bishop's hat, he was accompanied by Black
Peter, who is part of the Dutch Christmas legend. Dutch children knew that if
they weren't good, 'Sinterklaas' and Black Peter (Zwarte Piet) would only leave
them a lump of coal when they came to their house. The white-bearded, European
St.Nicholas, in his red bishop's costume, updated his wardrobe in North America
to fit with the lifestyle and traditions in this land. For many years Coca Cola
ran a series of ads depicting Santa in his red suit with the white fur trim,
thus setting the fashion statement for the modern Santa of today.
Last year Santa sent us a picture of himself dressed as the Ukrainian St.
Nicholas. St. Nicholas is special to many of the children whose families came
from Eastern Europe, such as the Ukrainian people. People who come here from
other countries remember the traditions of their motherland. Hopefully they
teach them to their children and, with time, those customs become immersed into
the traditions of our land. It enriches all our traditions to share them with
was a pleasure to see Santa and Mrs. Santa again this year. I came home to tell
my family all about it. Santa was sick a few years ago. His voice has changed
a little and he has lost a bit of weight, but he still loves being Santa and
bringing the spirit of Christmas to children.
Most grandparents have stories about their experiences with Santa Claus. I
wonder how many children think to ask about them.
lives on in the hearts of those who love him!
That is his legacy.
Article by M. Maxine George
Photos Courtesy of L.
& M. Arychuk
Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet in Murrayville Photo courtesy of M. Maxine George
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Last Updated on
November 17, 2011
by M. Maxine George editor.
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