I’d like to tell you about a special Christmas gift my youngest son gave me more than 40 years ago. It’s my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE gift of all time. It didn’t cost very much. Although it’s long-gone, I treasure the memory of it to this day.

When our four children were small, St. Mary Catholic Church in Wooster used to sponsor a Santa Shop where children could do all of their Christmas shopping at bargain prices ... just about everything was priced less than $1. Helpers would accompany each child around the room and assist them in selecting gifts for their family.

Michael purchased my absolute favorite Christmas gift of all time at the Santa Shop when he was no more than 5 or 6 years old. He chose what — in his young mind — was the perfect gift for his mother and he couldn’t wait until Christmas to give it to me.

When it was time to open gifts on Christmas morning Michael proudly handed me the large, wrapped package. He was so excited.

I tore open the wrapping paper and found what must have been the biggest and most colorful item for sale at that year’s Santa Shop. I couldn’t help but smile. It sure was COLORFUL ... and it was REALLY BIG.

It was an Indian headdress complete with a long row of tall feathers in a rainbow of bright colors.

After giving Michael a hug, I tried on the ceremonial headdress and ended up wearing it off-and-on throughout Christmas Day. However, that evening Michael asked if he could have the headdress back.

Christmas memories

Doug Taylor of Bexley recalled the walkway across the alley at Freedlander’s during Christmastime.

"How cool was that?" he asked. "Oh, and of course sitting on Santa’s lap on the store’s second floor. I’m convinced there was no cooler Santa than the Freedlander Santa."

Bonnie Lichteberger Mulhollan of Wadsworth remembered that years ago her brother, ‘Red,’ dressed up as Santa at the department store.

"It used to break his heart," she said, "when little kids from poor families would ask Santa for the most basic things ... like a warm winter coat."

Mulhollan said one holiday season when her son was small, he commented that the second-floor Santa smelled just like his uncle.

"It was the men’s cologne," she said, "that gave my brother away."


It’s said that Queen Victoria had a decorated Christmas tree by around 1850.

Thought you should know.

Columnist Ann Gasbarre can be reached at agasbarre@gmail.com or 330-345-6419.