This time of year always makes me miss my childhood. It always seems like things are bigger and ideas come alive when you are a kid. Aside from spending time with my family on Christmas, the best part of this time of year was always coming to Grand Forks. The shops were always decorated, and the smells were wonderful.
Who doesn’t enjoy going into Widman’s to get your holiday treats? Those were always “special” treats the little kids wouldn’t get quite yet, but it was great fun to go into the shop with Dad to get a sample. Those were the days when the Ski and Bike Shop and Popplers Music were downtown but Cabela’s hadn’t arrived yet. After the trip downtown, we would drive down Belmont Road to see the lights and decorations. Dad would travel at his small town pace because he liked looking at the lights just as much as the rest of us.
Then there was the mall. Dayton’s had the best decorations! I think it might have been because there was a “talking” Christmas tree. It seriously answered all the questions we asked it. They had a different Santa Bear each year. It was quite exciting when he got a “girlfriend,” Miss Bear. Mom collected every single Santa Bear and put them out every Christmas. We also got to pick out our Christmas outfits at one of the kids clothing stores in the mall, which seemed to match more often than not. Santa always had a candy cane to hand out to a good little girl!
Now, I look back and think fondly of those great memories. Widman’s is still around, as is the Ski and Bike Shop and Popplers, in different locations. I am now the one purchasing a box of chippers to send to friends out of town. New stores have come into town to replace those that have left. Santa Bear is no longer in Dayton’s/Marshall Field’s/Macy’s, but he will forever be present under my Christmas tree.
I still look forward to spending time with my family, but times change. I’m no longer the child running around and requesting that we open just one present before supper. My nephew will now be the one showered with love and gifts at Christmas time. As long as the Christmas pudding that has been passed down through the generations doesn’t change, I will forever love this time of year. Santa, I’ve been good this year!
– Jill Baird