Here I am 51 years ago, as a child of five, visiting Santa Claus at a branch of the Macy's department store that was located on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, New York.
He looked like a rather tired and sad looking Santa in this photo, doesn't he? I looked exactly how I was -- a very serious and timid little girl.
It was so long ago, yet I remember the experience so vividly. I came from a blue collar family, where we had the basics, but luxuries were few, so I'm sure the fact that my Dad took the time to drive downtown and stand on a very long line with me to have my photo taken with Santa Claus was a very serious and momentous task for both of us. I remember the store being decorated with vignettes of frosted bottle brush trees filled with multi colored glass ornaments and there were little houses underneath which had shining lights in the windows. Christmas music was playing and competing with the the soft "ding ding ding" sound of the escalator.
The Santa Village was on an upper floor of Macy's in the holiday decorating department, and we passed many displays of Christmas ornaments for sale. A green and red roped line walkway loomed ahead, surrounded by cartoon reindeer graphics on the walls. It wasn't until we almost reached the front of the line when we saw Santa, who was seated on an elevated wooden throne with a red leather seat. He was surrounded by helpers in red and white aprons who had candy canes in their pockets. When it was their turn they ushered each child up and down the steps of the throne, where they would then be lifted up to sit on Santa's lap.
I adored Santa Claus, and believed with all my heart that he was real, and believed in him for a very long time. Truthfully I still believe in him, as surely as the editor of the New York Sun, Francis Pharcellus Church did, as he described him to a young girl named Virginia in his editorial in 1897.
Meeting my hero, the great and generous mystical benefactor of toys and treats, was both scary and exciting. I know I was nervous and kept practicing my wish list: a doll, a tinker toy set, and a baby carriage. A feeling of relief came over me by the time this photo was taken, as now my very serious task was over, and it was time to receive the candy cane that was given to each visitor, and go home.