Looking Back: My Favorite Christmas

Christmas in Willow Glen

Willow Glen was a great place to grow up during the 1960s and 1970s. In 1963, we lived on the corner of Coe and Ramona, just a short walk to all the stores along Lincoln Avenue. In those days downtown Willow Glen was very relaxed (like most of San Jose), parking was never a problem and you could go into the popular La Villa Delicatessen anytime with only a short line, if any line at all. We had Lincoln Lanes for groceries, Ed's Hobby Shop, and of course Bergmann's Department Store which always provided free holiday wrapping. At Christmas time we all enjoyed the neighborhood lights and the decorations strung across Lincoln Avenue, which in those days were comparatively modest.

Ralph and Tom Visit Santa

I was four years old in December of 1963, and that year my older cousin Tom spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with us. On Christmas Eve day, my dad took us to the Emporium at Valley Fair to see Santa. I remember standing in a long line and my memory of so many excited kids and busy holiday shoppers is similar to that depicted in the movie A Christmas Story.

After my cousin and I'd had a chance to see Santa, we were surprised to see my dad just walk over and start chatting with him. Wow! My dad had once again proved just how amazing he was. And then as we're walking back to the car my dad pulls a handful of peppermint candies out of his pocket and starts tossing them up for us to catch! Apparently that chat with Santa went pretty well.

Santa Visits Ralph and Tom

I remember listening carefully for sleigh bells as Tom and I drifted off to sleep that Christmas Eve. When we awoke, we jumped out of bed and hurriedly got dressed to see what Santa had left in our stockings. When I opened my underwear drawer, I found a present left by Santa! And as I put my leg into my pants, I found another! Tom was finding things too, Santa had hidden gifts all over the place! Waking my parents, we were then allowed to open our stockings. Sticking his head out of the top of my stocking was a Topo Gigio puppet, just visible in the photo. We could also see that Santa had consumed the cookie and hot chocolate that we left for him, and written a reply to our note. I've enjoyed so many wonderful Christmases over the years, but I'd have to say that for those few childhood years that Christmas is truly magical, this one would have to be my favorite.

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