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Photo: Marilyn Regan

Crumpled red stockings, tinsel, chipped, faded mantle decorations; a white, artificial tree and electric orange candles in the window converged to create my winter wonderland.

Santa replied to my letters. We’d take the train into town to visit him at the Enchanted Village and wait in line patiently to sit on his lap, give him our lists, and have our picture taken. Boston was alive with animated window decorations, lights and music. Gentle reindeer greeted us in the common.

On Christmas Eve, it was his annual trek through town on the fire engine. I’d listen for hooves on the roof and close my eyes with the certainty that he’d find my house and make his way down the chimney with his sack.

My gifts were simple, but precious. Santa had brought them just for me! I (far left) could call my sister (next to me) all day on my plastic rotary phone as we fed our dolls and sung lullabies.

More than Disney, these old fashioned Christmases were times of fantasy born of my imagination and belief in a magical being. That alone was the greatest gift I could have ever received.

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