I saw Santa Claus — I really did. He was at Riverside Bank on East Burlington Street Friday night and he brought Mrs. Claus with him. Normally, she stays back at the North Pole to take care of the reindeer and make sure the elves are behaving; sometimes they get a little rambunctious.

So it was nice to see her, but I must admit she reminded me of someone here in Riverside … hmmmm. The jolly old fella looked good for himself, albeit a little tired. After all, this is his busy time of the year, and he had to get to Brookfield and North Riverside this past week, too.

Seeing him made me a bit nostalgic for when, at Christmas time, Santa made his big appearance at Marshall Field’s in downtown Chicago. We would eat at the Walnut Room near the big tree; I always had the chicken croquette and a chocolate sundae while marveling at the big ornaments on the tree. 

We also always made a stop at the toy department on the 4th floor, where my mom could leave me while she went on to look at other things. She wasn’t trying to lose me, it was just that back then it was OK to leave a child and they would be safe. I never left where the dolls were anyway. 

I was able to get a small toy, which usually turned out to be a Slinky, though then it was made of metal, not plastic. Gee, I hated when they would get tangled up! Top it off with some Frango mints and a jar of Field’s special salad dressing and it was a good day.

We did not have the Elf on the Shelf to spy on us to see if we had been good or bad, just our parents and anyone we knew us. For the most part I think I had been nice, except for when I would snoop to find my presents. Eventually, mom found a snoop-proof hiding spot. 

Toys were simple, less expensive and maybe needed some batteries, but not a three-inch manual in five languages to explain how it worked. Although, when we go to Target or Toys R Us for gifts always has Husband Joe saying, “I wish they had that when I was a kid.” 

I wonder what happened to my Uncle Mistletoe and Aunt Holly? I certainly would like to find them and sit back and remember an easier time with a good hot chocolate or maybe a Bailey’s Irish Cream. I’m old enough now, though the kid is still in me.