A SANTA CLAUS NAMED GEORGE
Lois Coslett Whitehead
Yes, there is a Santa Claus and his
name is George. My uncle, George Gilson, in the early
1950s, made our Christmases the most wonderful, magical
holiday you can imagine. I anticipated this event
for days and time seemed to drag until it was Christmas.
Our family always got together with
aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins on Christmas
Eve at the Gilson home, a large Victorian style house
in Hamburg, complete with a ball room on the third
floor and five fireplaces. The three downstairs were
lit on Christmas Eve.
George and Ruth ran a cafe which was
open for awhile on Christmas Eve. We waited eagerly
for George to get home and tell us if Santa had been
there. Our festivities took place in the hall. Yes,
the room upon entering the front door was called the
hall. It was not a "hall" at all but a large
room with a beautiful parquet floor, fireplace crackling
on one side and a long curved oak staircase on one
end.The live Christmas tree with "bubble lights"
stood in the bay window.
The room was closed off with two pocket
doors, one on each side. At Christmas these were shut
until George came home. He would then gather us at
the door, (I can still see his big smile and sparkling
eyes) telling us he would check to see if Santa had
come. We waited and waited and he finally told us
he had. We rushed into the room and took our places
which all of the cousins had chosen ahead of time
sitting on the staircase with the older cousins at
George, of course, passed out the gifts
with as much fun and dramatics as you can imagine.
I always got a new baby doll and I loved them. Our
grandmother who lived away once sent us a box full
of doll clothes she had made and that was really special.
One Christmas I wanted a gun and holster set so bad
and my grandpa got it for me.
After gifts were opened we burned some
of the wrappings in the fireplace while Grandma saved
what she could. We then roasted hot dogs and marshmallows
in the fireplace and had lots of other goodies too
like fudge and divinity. The very best though was
the wooden case of pop (orange, cream, strawberry
and root beer) George brought home and set out on
the back porch. It would get a little ice in the neck
of the bottles and oh, it was so good. It was hard
to choose which flavor I wanted.
Later we left for home tired and happy
but anxious to return the next day for Christmas dinner.
Ruth cooked a delicious dinner with turkey in the
roaster and all the trimmings served on her pretty
dishes. Grandma brought a dish of macaroni and cheese
wrapped in a newspaper to keep it warm, tied it with
This is the good part. The Gilson family
all came on Christmas Day. They brought guitars, a
banjo, a Jew's (today they are called Jaw's Harps)
harp, a violin and, of course, the piano was already
there. We had fantastic music, colorful stories and
maybe even a little wine. No one could have had a
more wonderful Christmas; unless they had an uncle