The tradition of visiting Santa Claus at a local shopping center goes back at least 100 years. It’s not clear exactly how and when it started, but James Edgar is believed to be the first to dress up as Santa to attract customers to his department store in 1890. In the decades that followed, sitting on Santa’s lap for a photo op and to ask for a gift became mainstream throughout the United States and Canada, and has turned into a cherished childhood memory for many the world over.
We asked our followers to send us some of these precious memories, and the following photos were generously shared with us.
Carol and Roberta, Somerville, New Jersey, 1947
“This photo was taken by my dad when we visited Santa way back in 1947,” writes Carol. “It was always the most thrilling part of the year for us. His fluffy red outfit and pleasant manner let us know he truly loved children.”
Sharyn, Sydney, Australia, 1958
The photo features Sharyn, age two, and two of her brothers, Garry (9) and Michael (7). Another brother, Mark, aged 4, is missing from the photo.
“I guess the ice cream saw me brave enough to sit on Santa’s lap,” says Sharyn. “I think I still look a little concerned though.”
Sharyn goes on to say that she lost her mother in 1981. “Not a day goes by that she doesn’t cross my mind,” she says. “One of her greatest loves was Christmas. We may not have had much throughout the year, but come Christmas we would be spoiled with one main gift and lots of little ones. Mum went without to make our Christmas a wonderful memory.”
Sharyn says that she has followed in her mother’s footsteps: “Today I am the same as her, Christmas is the best time of the year. No longer baked dinners though and we have adapted to make the day even more memorable. To receive a present, we play a game first, there are so many fast, funny, and easy games, just a little ingenuity is needed. We laugh our way through the day, and the presents take forever to open. This year we are also changing the gift giving to items bought from a charity shop. Nothing expensive, and we get to help the needy.” What a beautiful tradition!
Anonymous, Whittier, California, 1981
The following photo came from a follower who preferred to remain anonymous:
Such a cute photo!
The following lovely photographs came to us from Lorie Doty, who had one thing to say about them: “Santa’s real.”
Looks real to us!
Cathy, 1971 & 1974
We received the following two photos from Cathy Rohs Bates. The first one features her daughter (right) and her niece (left), taken in 1971:
And this one from 1974 features her daughter (left), and two nieces (right and center):
Many thanks to all who shared their Christmas memories with us. We hope you are enjoying or preparing to enjoy making new ones with your families this season.
The photos in this post were enhanced, colorized, and restored using the MyHeritage photo features. Bring your own family photos to life with MyHeritage In Color and the Photo Enhancer! If you have a personal family photo relating to a historic event or person, we’d love to see it — please tell us about it using this form or email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Source: My Heritage