Santa’s Hut

by Mark on December 1, 2010

Jaymeson @ 21 Months

It remains to be seen whether my 21-month old grandson, Jaymeson, and the other toddlers in my life are ready to sit on the lap of a strange grey-bearded stranger in red. So far, Jaymeson points at pictures of Santa and says, ‘Grandpa.’ I thought about my early experiences with Saint Nick.

Growing up in Defiance, Ohio before superstores and shopping malls, the North Pole still found our town. Sometime in the middle of the night around Thanksgiving Weekend, a small holiday-decorated red hut appeared in a downtown parking lot. Santa was coming. My siblings and I spent weeks fighting over the Sears catalog, imagining our Christmas dreams. Time to tell Santa.

My Dad packed us in his Olds for the short drive to Santa’s Hut, (all drives are short in my hometown). To our frustration he continued to drive around the parking lot, over and over. We impatiently screamed at all of the open parking spots. Little did we know that Dad was watching the queue of kids and parents waiting in line. There was only room for Santa and one child in the heated hut – about the size of a well-appointed closet. Dad preferred not to freeze his butt off in a long line.

Eventually, I plopped on to Santa’s lap. There was awe. This guy circles the globe. There was fear. Have I been naughty or nice? Mostly, there were marbles in my mouth as I tried to explain my Christmas dreams. Finally, there was regret. Driving away, I remembered what I forgot . Dad assured me, “Santa will know.”

I was walking around Defiance a few days after last Christmas. Change shook the downtown. Where some popular retail shops once thrived, tanning parlors and real estate offices reside. Shopping malls and Wal-Mart drew customers to their own North Pole displays. What about the hut? It probably collapsed decades ago.

Rounding the corner by the bridge, a frosty mirage appeared. To my left was Santa’s Hut with fresh red paint, white trim, and a long ramp decorated in garland. I walked up and touched the 50 year-plus relic. It was real. Floods of warm memories poured through my veins. What a great place to grow-up.

Whether or not Jaymeson is ready to see the big guy, this year, doesn’t matter. When he is ready, I hope he feels the magic. Someday, as a grandpa, maybe his memories will warm a winter day.

Santa's Hut - Defiance, Ohio

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Pat December 2, 2010 at 10:31 am


Thanks for the wonderful Christmas memories! Our Sears “Wish Book” was worn out by Christmas. I am happy to see Defiance honoring tradition. The hut has more architectural detail now. I hope it lasts for generations to come!

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