Window No. 8

 When I was little, we used to visit Santa's Grotto at the local Co-op in York. The Co-op was spread out over the ground floor but the grotto was upstairs. I remember the colour blue predominantly in the decorations. After queueing for a while, you'd take your seat on Santa's sleigh which was actually a painted hardboard frame surrounding a number of benches. I remember there being reindeers at the head of the sleigh but I can't recall if these were actual reindeer figures or just painted images. The walls in front, at the sides and behind the sleigh were on some kind of roller system. As the sleigh 'set off', the rollers began to move. The reindeers galloped. Magical, snowy scenes reeled past the sleigh and then we took off into a glittery, night sky, my heart 'taking off' too with the excitement of it all. There was tinkling, festive music and for what seemed like a perfect moment, we flew in our sleigh, breath held tightly, eyes wide.

When the sleigh ride jerked to a halt, doors would open to one side and our parents would guide us into a dimly lit corridor of glass fronted scenes of Santa's workshop. The figures moved, hammers raising and lowering in the hands of the elves as they made our toys. There were reindeers nodding to us and woodland animals peeping in through the workshop windows.

When finally we found Santa in his grotto, the reality of this human figure was actually a little disappointing. Maybe I was the only child that felt that way but as my parents pushed me towards Santa (who was probably the store manager in a costume), I would much rather have been on the sleigh ride or with the elves.

The Co-op isn't there anymore. It's since been replaced by a smart boutique hotel and a Budgens supermarket. It doesn't matter. My memories of the grotto are still clear, as crisp and bright as the snow that filled the sleigh ride sky.


  1. Fi, I love that you are sharing all your Christmas memories with us this month. And you're right. Even if the places where our memories took place aren't there any more, our precious memories will live on.

  2. I too am enjoying your memories. It has stirred my own. I don't think we ever forget. I remember our first Christmas in my childhood home - it was sparse not only in the house but our neighborhood was a brand new. Not all of the houses were filled, the yards were not yet landscaped and behind and around us were orange groves and cattle. Those are gone now, but I can still see them in my mind.


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