Our family has always had lots of Christmas traditions. Mother-daughter traditions. Boon Chapel traditions. Gracie-Abby sister traditions. Visiting The Enchanted Forest at Goldsmith’s in Memphis was one of our favorites. Each year when we went, Momma dressed us in red velvet with white tights and black patent shoes, not because The Enchanted Forest was a dress-up place, but because Santa Claus waited at the end of our forest visit. Having a chance to talk with Santa, to tell him our greatest Christmas wishes, and to take a picture with him was reason enough to have clean hair and look fancy.
Something interesting about Goldsmith’s? During the non-Christmas part of the year, the forest area was nothing more than the basement of the department store. But at Christmas, just beyond the double doors past the men’s department, the Enchanted Forest became as magical as Alice’s Wonderland or Narnia, all those pixie-dust-sprinkled places.
Santa had that sort of power.
No matter what day of the week or time of the day we made the trip to Goldsmith’s, the line to see Santa was looooong. But it didn’t matter. Walking through the forest toward Santa and Mrs. Claus was the real highlight. Woodland animals nodded and waved. The snow sparkled and glittered. The air smelled of evergreen and gingerbread.
When I was a little kid, I believed the Santa at The Enchanted Forest was the real one. I thought he lived most of the year at the North Pole. From January to November, he worked overseeing the elves as they designed and built and painted Tinker Toys and Lincoln Logs in his magical workshop. Then, just before Thanksgiving, he traveled to New York City to usher in the Christmas season at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. Abby and I watched the parade from start to finish and cheered when Santa made his annual appearance. Afterwards, he spent most of December at his “other” home—The Enchanted Forest.
I’d never been to New York City, but I knew where it was located on the world globe in our bedroom. With my finger, I mapped out Santa’s most likely route from Macy’s to Goldsmith’s. For Santa to get to Memphis, he would pass near our farm. The fact that we were lucky enough to live so close to Memphis wasn’t lost on us.
One Thanksgiving night, Abby and I stayed awake past our bedtime watching for the glow of Rudolph’s red nose in the eastern sky over the Mississippi River. We never saw evidence of Santa or Rudolph, but Abby swore she saw a falling star which had to be a good sign for something.
Later, when I became a wiser eleven-year-old, I learned The Enchanted Forest guy wasn’t the real Santa. He was merely one of Santa’s main helpers. Papa Pete said, “The big man can’t be everywhere.” That made sense, and it was okay. Helpers were essential, too. Much like farm managers.
(not part of The Accidental Salvation of Gracie Lee but could be…)
What’s one of your favorite childhood Christmas memories?
Merry Christmas Eve,
Grace Grits and Gardening
Farm. Food. Garden. Life.