Last night I got out my Santa collection and arranged it on the buffet in my dining room. Many of the Santas are souvenirs of my travels, and at the time I had the good sense to write on the bottom of each of them so I can remember where and when I got them. Here is a small sample of what’s written on some of the Santas:
1. “Author reception, Cleveland County Historical House, Norman OK 2/25/94” This reception followed a week of school visits in Norman. The historical society sold antiques on the upper floor of the house.
2. “Silver Falls State Park, OR, 2001” Carl and I were on our way home from a week of school visits in Oregon, and spent the weekend in our motorhome in this beautiful park.
3. “Opreyland Hotel, Nashville, Accelerated Reader Conference, Feb. 2000” I spoke at the conference; that evening Carl and I explored the hotel’s shops.
4. “Duluth MN 1996 MEMO Conference, Maud Hart Lovelace Award.” I had received the award for Cages. This Santa is riding on the kind of barge that I saw in the Duluth harbor.
5. “Eric’s 10th birthday trip, Alaska, July 2002” When each of our grandchildren turned ten, we took them on a special trip. Eric’s was a cruise to Alaska. My souvenir is Santa in a canoe, along with some wildlife.
6. “Speaker, post-polio group, Seattle Jan. 1998” Someone from the group took us to a Swedish pancake breakfast prior to my talk. The church that put on the breakfast was also having a bazaar; I bought a Santa.
7. “School visits, Iowa, 1996” This was another fun motorhome trip. Our motorhome was programmed to stop at antiques shops, but I rarely bought old Santas because the majority of them are scowling. Really! Most antique Santas look crabby; I prefer happy Santas.
The Santa I’ve had the longest is a small one made of yarn with a cotton beard. My mother made these as package decorations one year when I was a little girl.
A large bobble-head Santa who comes apart at the waist has lived with me for a long time, too. My grandmother sent him to my children, filled with Mrs. See’s candy, as a Christmas gift in 1963. I have filled him with candy and displayed him every December since then. I also have a copy of The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore, illustrated by Gyo Fujikawa, which is inscribed by my grandmother to my son and dated December 25, 1961. Bob would have been two years old. At the time I did not realize how much I would treasure these gifts so many years later.
There is a snapshot of me, age ten, wearing a Santa costume which I donned on Christmas Eve and wore to distribute the gifts from under the tree to my family. I only fit in it for two years but I still remember how much fun it was to “be Santa” – to come ho-ho-hoing down the stairs where my parents, brother, and grandpa showed great excitement at my arrival.
Each year when I display my Santas, I am flooded with happy memories.