A Visit to Santa


When I was a child, Christmas wouldn’t have been Christmas without a trip to our local department store, Muirhead’s. Those were the days when there could actually be a locally owned department store. The Muirhead family designed the most magical Christmas display, complete with a trip on a train to visit Santa. It looked like we were in an igloo. Oh, it was pure heaven to all of us kids. To this day, I see childhood friends post pictures on Facebook like the ones I’m going to show you now. We all loved our trips to Muirheads. Sadly, by the time my sisters came around, Muirheads had discontinued their Santa Land. That’s why you see only my brother and me in these photos.


Someone looks a little nervous. Dad’s keeping an eye on me.


That’s better.


Handsome Dad. Lovely Mom.


And my dear, beautiful brother. I miss him.

Mom’s holding her glasses. So sweet.

My mom saved all these photos for me and I’m so grateful. I finally found a frame a few years ago that had a mat designed for 4 photos. This is one of my most treasured possessions.

Have a magical Christmas Eve.


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  1. Vanessa bower says

    Hi Claudia
    I too am from the Detroit Area. We made the trek to Northland in Southfield to have our pictures taken with Santa in his igloo. All I remember of those adventures was waiting for what seemed hours to see Santa, have my picture taken and then sent on my merry way. Then it was off to J.L. Hudson’s to buy gifts for Dad, my brother and sister. During lunch, at S.S Kresge’s I had to promise not to tell anyone what we bought because if I did, Santa wouldn’t bring me anything. gosh that was hard because my siblings were five plus years older than me. They knew all the tricks. But. I kept my promise ( I think) because there was always something under the tree for me.
    Have a Very Merry Christmas,

    • Claudia says

      Oh Vanessa, I remember that igloo at Northland very well. I can see it, even now! Did you ever go Hudson’s 12th (or was it 13th) floor downtown? It was wondrous. I bought a lot of presents at Kresge’s when I was a kid. Don’t you miss all of that? Hudson’s is no more. Neither is Kresge’s. Thanks so much for this message from a fellow Michigander.

  2. says

    I can see why, Claudia. What a lovely keepsake. I love seeing the fashions of those days with the men in their hats and the women wearing their kerchiefs. You look so happy in the last photo with your and your brother in the front of the sleigh and your mom and dad in the back! So those were taken over the course of a few years (it just dawned on me that your family’s attire changed in the different photos!!!)? How sad they didn’t have the Santa display when your sisters came along.

    I have a1958 photo on my header right now of my sister and I with a Boston Jordan Marsh Santa. I have to say, the4 big department store Santas had such a different feeling than the mall Santas of today; more magical somehow. Of course that could be me seeing and speaking through the eyes of an adult rather than a child. I’m sure the children who visit the Mall Santas feel much the same as I did visiting my Jordan Marsh Santa. But I still say there was something a bit more magical about visiting department store Santas in days gone by.

    Merry Christmas, Claudia

    Hugs, Donna

    • Claudia says

      I, too, think it was more magical. My sisters went to see Santa in a different setting, and although it was wonderful for them, it didn’t have the same ‘entering another world’ feeling that Muirhead’s had.

      I think women should start wearing kerchiefs like these again!

      Merry Christmas, my friend.

  3. says

    Oh Claudia! What treasure those photos are! (My mom always took her glasses off too.) And what a wonderful capture of the magic of holiday time and days gone by.

    Happy happy Christmas Eve to you, filled with love and magic! xo

  4. Dottie in Missouri says

    Those pictures are too sweet. What a way to preserve your special family memories. So glad your Mother saved them for you. Merry Christmas, maybe tomorrow you could think of these happy memories, drink cocoa, and love on your sweet dog!

  5. says

    A beautiful memory and wonderful keepsake ~ especially since it was of the whole family. I can imagine your day will include flannel pjs, hot chocolate, snuggling with Scout, and a few phone calls (** and that sounds grand!

    Merry Christmas Eve.

  6. says

    What a wonderful collection!! Love, love these type photos and to have them of the four of you is priceless! Thanks for sharing your treasure with us. Have a cozy couple of days in your sweet home with Miss Scout. xo

    • Claudia says

      I will. I pulled out the afghan I was crocheting last year and have started work on it again. Plan to watch some Christmas movies today.

  7. says

    Thanks for sharing these wonderful photos! I don’t have any of the photos taken with Santa…they all reside in a photo album at my parent’s house. It is so special to see you in your childhood :)

    Merry Christmas!

  8. Sharron Akins says

    Merry Christmas Claudia.
    The pictures are lovely and so fun to see. I have one of me on Santa’s lap about 1945.
    I am holding a little purse and it is so sweet. I am thankful my parents saved treasures like
    this for me.
    I hope today and tomorrow bring you joy and peace.

    • Claudia says

      Yes, Mom is in a Nursing Home, Dad is getting frailer and my brother is gone. If I let myself, I could get very depressed. But these pictures make me happy. I love seeing the younger versions of all of us.

      Merry Christmas to you, Steve!

  9. says

    Oh I love your pictures. I have pictures of my kids throughout the years on Santa’s lap. Some are the orginal three, then our adopted son and his big sister, even one with our adopted son and his biological sister before we met him. But none of me with Santa. I did find one of my grandfather who played Santa for our church. I think I was in the picture…..I put it in a safe place, hah, can’t find it. When my kids were little going to downtown Lazarus was the real Santa. (Columbus, Ohio) But your pictures are great. You have the same cute face.

    • Claudia says

      Thank you, Debby! I do that same thing, by the way, put things in a ‘safe place’ – not to be found for years.

    • Claudia says

      Yeah, I think Sears was too much like a typical department store. Muirheads created a whole magical place.

  10. Kim says

    Those are wonderful pictures Claudia, and such special memories. I miss how special it was going to the big department stores, especially around Christmas. I think we were fortunate to experience all that. Going shopping was about more than just buying things somehow. Maybe it’s just my 52 year old self doing too much reminiscing lately! Anyway, I hope you have a peaceful and lovely Christmas Eve and Christmas.

  11. says

    Those are the sweetest photos. So glad that your mom saved them for you. Such a shame that family-owned places like that have slowly become a thing of the past. That truly personal touch is lost these days. Merry Christmas! Tammy

  12. zooperson says

    Merry Christmas, Claudia. Your new Canon will be a joy, I’m a Canon fan as well so I know we will be the benefactors of your new edition. And, thanks for sharing your thoughts and creativity , what better gift than to have friends all over the world. Be well. Sonja

  13. cheryl says

    what lovely photos of your family lwish l had some of my mum and dad when l was young sadly they are no longer with me but l do have happy memories of christmas when l was a child with my brother and sister, l am having a quite christmas with my husband and son feels alittle strange not having my other 2 daughters and partners and grandchildre but we will be together on boxing day, l wish you a very merry christmas claudia and scout.

  14. Annette Tracy says

    Claudia, do you remember Cobo Hall? My brother would pack all of us in the car, he had 6 kids, wife and me, of course to help heard them all, and we’d go down to Cobo Hall. It was so magical. You my dear are the spitting image of your mom, two beauitful ladies. Merry Christmas from my house to yours.

  15. says

    Merry Christmas Claudia! We all have those wonderful memories tucked away. I know you are home alone this year, but don’t think that you are not in the hearts & minds of all your friends. I hope your day goes well. Luanne

  16. says

    I like the bottom left photo the best.. a lovely family memory!

    ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉
    *M*E*R*R*Y* *C*H*R*I*S*T*M*A*S*!*
    ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉

    ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

  17. says

    Merry Christmas, Claudia!
    What a priceless keepsake. Your Mom was so thoughtful to make sure you had these darling photos. The memories they kindle I’m sure are keeping you today. You were adorable and your big brother was quite handsome…as was you Father. I did notice your Mom holding her glasses so gently in her hand…Precious!
    Blessings and a few Christmas hugs,
    Carolynn xxx

  18. says

    Those are wonderful memories Dear Claudia. You look so pretty and your family looks wonderful too.
    Have a blessed and peaceful day. Sending Christmas Hugs

  19. tracy says

    Love the old photos…such a simpler time.
    Just wanted to stop in and wish you a Merry Christmas ~ your Christmas coffee cake is in the oven and the house smells Wonderful. Thank you for the recipe, and for all the heartfelt posts you’ve shared throughout the year. Many blessings to you Claudia.

  20. Patti says

    That is such a sweet keepsake Claudia….I have a Santa photo of me and my brother too and it is special to me too. Thankfully we can keep memories like that in our minds and in photos. Merry Christmas to you and Don. I hope for you a beautiful holiday and New Year! Hugs, Patti

  21. says

    I know this Christmas is hard since you two are separated and you were blue yesterday ( I saw that post and have had you on my mind since then )

    So the best that I can do is say come on over and visit my Xmas Eve post like you were a neighbor down the street or something and I hope that you’ll get a chuckle about the nuts :)

    I wish that you WERE down the street and then I’d just have you come on down for dinner while he’s away

  22. says

    Beautiful photographs. Somehow, people just look much more elegrant back then than they do nowadays, don’t you think? Maybe it was the hats (and scarves) that they wore. Your photographs are priceless!

    • Claudia says

      I miss men wearing hats. And by that I mean hats that were an everyday thing, not just to look ‘cool,’ and I think we should bring back scarves like my mom’s. Merry Christmas, Melanie!

  23. says

    You are indeed lucky to have all these reminders of times past. I wish I had more, but so many of our family photos have disappeared through the years. Here’s wishing you the merriest of seasons, and I look forward to sharing in the new year.

  24. says

    At first glance, I thought I was looking at pics from a Christmas play! So much character is present in these wonderful photos! And you, my dear Claudia are, without a doubt, the star!

    Have yourself a lovely Christmas!


  25. Kiki says

    Those pics are priceless!! And I do sometimes wear a kerchief like that when I drive my little convertible car. It keeps my hair out of m eyes and face :)

    Merry christmas and wishing you good things in 2013

  26. says

    Claudia, I remember Muirhead’s very well. I remember the store in Dearborn! Your pictures are a treasure. You and your brother are adorable and your mom and dad are a handsome couple! Merry Christmas my friend!

  27. says

    Hello Claudia and Vanessa. I used to take trips to Hudson’s at Northland. In fact, when I was 18 I worked at Stouffers (right across the parking lot from the Mall) Do you remember Stouffer’s restaurant. Oh how I miss the Hudson’s downtown. I was very sad when it was demolished. I used to go downtown for fashion shows as a little girl. Do you remember when they had elevator operators at Hudson’s downtown. The Christmas displays were magical. I miss Kresge’s too.

    • Claudia says

      My grandmother used to take me to Hudson’s at Northland. I loved it. And yes, I remember Stouffer’s and Sander’s, too! Hudson’s Christmas displays were incredible – weren’t they on the 12th or 13th floor? And do you remember the wooden escalators? I loved them. Why they got rid of that gorgeous store, I have no idea. It breaks my heart.

  28. says

    Claudia, those are adorable pictures. No wonder they are treasures. Look how precious you are!

    I woke up in the wee hours of Christmas and wanted to drop by to wish you all the best. I’m typing by the light of a night light and am probably making typos, but I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you I’m thiinking of you and wishing you a world of love.



  29. says

    Your pictures are wonderful and I think even more special that your parents are in them. I have fond memories connected to visiting local stores when I was a child the window displays and toyland were always special.
    Merry Christmas.

  30. says

    What a lovely family. You look just like your mother. Thanks, for sharing. I am getting caught up in my spare time today and what a lovely blog to read. I hope you have a wonderful new year.


  31. Nola says

    Your family Christmas photo is lovely. You were a beautiful little girl; you haven’t really changed. What a treasure those photos are.

  32. says

    Those photographs are so lovely, Claudia, and how wonderful that you have them to preserve. Memories like this are so precious and it’s lovely when they surface at Christmas. My family loves to reminisce about past Christmases when we get together at the holidays.

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