The other day I was at a mall, something I rarely do, and would never be caught dead doing this time of year. However, I was doing a family member a favor and it meant going to a mall. The parking lot was crowded and people were being rather rude in hopes to get the perfect parking place. I saw one car almost plow down an elderly couple in order to get their car in the perfect place. Than once in the mall, the pushing and shoving really got me in the spirit. People looked stress, were not smiling, and tugging their screaming children who clearly did not want to be at the mall. At one point, I had rest and sooth my spirit. I found a little fence to lean on and discovered it was Santa’s house and it got me thinking…
Christmas is the time of year where I get to see people at their worst. Being a therapist, it is my busiest time of the year. People tend to be more stressed, more depressed and their anxiety is off the charts. Still, there is one thing that seems to calm people down and that is good old Saint Nick, Kris Kringle, Santa Claus if you will.
I loved leaning on the gate of Santa’s little palace at the mall. I thought it was great seeing Mrs. Clause there doting over the children. The kids were lined up in their dress clothes and shinny shoes, and bows and slicked back hair waiting to sit on Santa’s lap and have a picture taken. More important is the looks on the children’s face that reminds me that these kids really do believe in the magic of Santa.
Still my thoughts kept wondering how did Santa discover that he could see many children in a mall or department store? I had to find out, so I decided to spend some time researching how Santa discovered department stores. My answer came to me from R.H. Macy Co. They were the first department store to have an in-store Santa back in 1862.
Wait! There is a debate here. According to the Old World Farmer’s Almanac Brockton, there is documentation that James Edgar, a downtown merchant in Brockton, Massachusetts was the first to put on the red suite and strolled through his store surprising children back in 1890. Macy’s says “No no no impossible.” They were the first to have a Santa. Still another source who has done the research says that Santa started to appear in stores the 1870′s.
It is difficult to pinpoint where did the store Santa originate and who wore the Santa suit first. I suppose in reality it does not matter. Today there are thousands and thousands of Santa’s everywhere; in fact, there are even Yule and Santa schools that teach people how to be Santa. I would think one would have to go to school in order to represent Santa. After all, those who wear the Santa suit would need to know the names of all the reindeers, how he gets down the chimney, how does he cover so much ground in such a short time, and how many elves does he really have.
Neither here nor there, what we know today is that Santa in the Malls in a tradition for families and children all over the world. Kids believe in that magic. There is nothing that can put a smile on my face faster than seeing a child sitting on Santa’s lap. Merry Christmas to everyone and to all a wonderful New Year.
When I decided to write this, I kept thinking about the smiles on children’s faces, and so I cannot complete this article without offering my deepest condolences to the people in Newtown, Connecticut.