As a boy I never saw a Santa that could come close to this one. He was the "real deal," perfect, timeless, impeccably groomed and his red trimmed in white suit was spotless and the white was as pure as snow. He had a full face with a ruddy complexion and laughed deep from his belly. The white gloves were a perfect fit as he gently lifted children into his lap to learn of their Christmas wishes. In addition to Santa, the Snow Queen and the elves were also exquisite and I do believe that parents standing and waiting for their children couldn't leave the gathering without believing in Santa. In this instance, seeing was indeed believing.
A real special treat was to stay for lunch with Santa in the department store's tea room. It was decked out for the occasion and a realistic looking fireplace was even used for Santa's grand entrance after we heard the tap, tap of Rudolph and his compatriots' hooves as they landed on the roof above. As he exited the chimney, he sat down in his ornate chair, took a large hand mirror and checked himself out, combing his beard and making sure he was just right before he made his way around the room talking to every child in the place.
We made a full day of it, arriving just before his visits were open, staying for lunch, then shopping for several hours before making our final stop at the store bakery before the two hour drive home. It was a must to pick up some Christmas sweets and the yummy Sally Lunn bread. Mom would usually buy several loaves, the slightly sweet bread that is supposedly the creation of an eighteenth century English woman always sold out. If you ate it warm with fresh butter it was magnificent.
No matter how many years I went on this annual pilgrimage or even as an adult when I took my young daughter, Santa always met the same standard. And it was always a happy day except for the visit at the age of five when my dad, bless his heart, took off a day of his practice to take me when Mom was ill. He was so patient and kind, staying for lunch and I think living the childhood with me that he never had himself. Despite the sad looking picture I took that day due to worrying about Mom, Santa did indeed brighten my spirits and she was well before the big day.
So, if you don't believe in Santa, regardless of your age, you must have never met that Miller and Rhoads icon. He was truly unforgettable and I have never forgotten and yes, I still believe.