Well good morning to all my blogging friends. Another beautiful day, but they are predicting storms for later. I will need to get as much done outdoors before I have to go in to work teaching art today.
I was contemplating what I should write about this morning. All sorts of thoughts raced around in my head and I thought about landmarks...and my thoughts went to Santa's Village.
Santa's village was located in Elgin, Illinois. As a child it was at least an hour's drive away, but a place to look forward to when you were a child. I remember just arriving into the parking lot and seeing all those supersized mushrooms brightly painted outside the Village. Santa's Village was a landmark. I remember in the days when I was young the excitement over touching the North Pole. They had a small cottage where inside Santa sat to meet and greet you. You could go in and have your picture taken and that was exciting, but not as much as touching the pole of ice outside. I remember thinking how much magic Santa had, because in the hot sun, how else could a ice pole not have melted. As a child your imagination sparks always thoughts of magical happenings rather than reality. Then there were the snowball ride that you could spin yourself around and around in. There was a sleigh ride pulled by real reindeer. That was exciting as well. I actually believed that I got to ride Santa's sleigh. Although, I did question where Rudolph was, since none of the reindeers noses lit up.
I remember going to the barn where they kept all the animals and feed them grains from paper cups . But my most favorite attraction in the barn was this piano playing chicken. You would place a coin into the machine and chicken would go over to this miniature piano and play. It was something amazing and different. The day at Santa's Village was always a long day. Train rides, a ski lift ride that took you over the park as you dangled your feet off the lift and watched all the people below. There was a roller coaster and an the ice dome you could even go in and watch an ice skating show. My most favorite place though was go to Mrs. Claus' house for home baked cookies. When we got there, Mrs. Claus was all dressed up in this red velvet gown with a pristine white apron. I know you will laugh when I share with you that as a child, I dreamt about growing up as Mrs. Claus and getting to wear that red gown. Little did I ever imagine that one day I would become Mrs. Claus. (one of my persona's)
You see, now that I am a storyteller, Mrs. Claus is one of my characters, although, my being Mrs. Claus didn't start there. I actually started at The Grove's in Glenview's biggest Arts and Craft Fair in November. I am also an artist by trade and this is a huge show that is held on 134 acres of land in historical homes. I do paintings and all different types of crafts, but the main thing that I am known for is my hand painted ornaments. I have all types, and I remain there the entire time personalizing them as Mrs. Claus. Now .this really is a special time for me. Sitting in my red gown...children occasionally come through and believe that I am the real thing. Actually, sometimes I believe it too. No, I am not off my rocker, I am grounded in reality, except that if you ever had the chance to be someone else like that and have the magic that comes from the hearts and minds of children, you would understand what I am speaking of. I had 1 young boy who was afraid of Santa, but Mrs. Claus seemed to be less frightening, he would come to visit me and tell me what he wanted for Christmas. he was an adopted child from Guatemala, and his mother began to make his visit an annual event. The first time I had asked him what he wanted for Christmas...he told me 3 things....I asked he what else there might be...and his answer was.."that's it. 3 things...Jesus only got three things when he was born...why should I get more?" Wow, that mom knew what she was doing...that was an amazing way to present the spirit of Christmas. Well, years went by and they kept coming back, a few later, they adopted another boy, and now the 2 came each year with their lists for Santa. Their dad even comes for the occasion...yes, I did say occasion....the mom told me that I had become their family tradition. How wonderful and awesome is that? I have had all sorts of stories about the children that visit me....one young man didn't want to leave the building without getting my autograph. Once walking through the building I walked into one of the rooms while a mom and child, who seemed about 3 years old were standing looking at something and the mom was speaking Polish to her. Luckily I know enough Polish to say Merry Christmas in....when I spoke Polish to the little girl...her eyes lit up like Christmas lights on a tree...and so did her moms. I felt in that moment like Chris Kringle from Miracle on 34th St. But the best was a young boy who told me there was no such thing as Santa. I acted astonished over such a statement and questioned the young man why he would think such a thing. He proceeded to tell me that the boys in school told him that it was just his parents. Luckily, being a story teller, I can think pretty quick on my feet and turned to him and said "do you know why the boys told you that?" When he asked 'WHY" I told him "because Santa only comes to good girls and boys and if they hadn't been good, they weren't going to admit that, so they invented the idea of telling others that he didn't exist to avoid the embarrassment". The conversation continued with him asking me questions, testing me along the way. By now the entire room was in on this conversation. Then at one point his mother had paid for all her purchases at the register and called him to leave. He told me goodbye and caught up with his mother. By the time they were at the door, ready to leave, he asked her "Mom, is she REALLY Mrs. Claus?" the smart mother only said "Well, who did she tell you she was?" When they exited the building, we all burst into laughter, and I of course just smiled and was tickled to pieces to think that I may have just given a child the magic of believing in Santa for one more year.
Now back to Santa's Village.
One of the most enjoyable things I did was to ride in Cinderella's Pumpkin with Cinderella all dressed up I blue. As years went by, I had gone there with my children, the park got larger and their were more things to do there. And what sometimes happens with a landmark as such, is that it sometimes get run down, as was the case with Santa's Village. Some things had changed. They decided to no longer keep Mrs. Claus, they made the cookie house into an ice cream parlor, the Reindeers no longer pulled the sleigh, they thought it was cruel, so they replaced them with horses, really? Anyway, the coach had become dilapidated and was no longer in use. By the time I had a Grandchild they had restored the coach along with other things the year we visited...I was so ecstatic because my daughter and soon to be son-in law went with us and they were having a Cinderella themed wedding. I took their picture in front of the Pumpkin Coach. I set the photo on top of boxes of handmade candy favors. It probably wasn't as important to them as it was to me...but oh what a memory that had been restored.
I had taken my grandchildren there while it was still running and then eventually it was closed down. Many years passed and they turned it back around and reopened about half of the park. They have steadily done repairs to the buildings and have added things each year. I went one year with my granddaughters when they visited here. They had a great time an so did I. Who says you can't go back in time and revisit. I sure did, many times over. Santa's Village, a place where magic happens, even if it is only in our hears and minds.