Thanks To the keen mind of Ninjabetic- "Today is No D Blog Day." Anything goes re: D Blog Day- as long as you don't actually mention the D word!
When I was a very little girl, I believed in Santa Clause and Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer - both were magic part of my childhood and represent some of the happiest memories I have.
But I also believed in something that most people outside of a 30 mile radius of Southern NJ don't know anything about. I'm talking about the Shore Mall Talking Christmas Tree, which lived on the second story of the Shore Mall, in the old Steinbeck's department store.
The ginormous tree was decorated in gold, silver, & green and when you walked by, it would start talking, and not just mindless gibber jabber, no it would start talking TO YOU.
I remember being about 4 years old (if that) and being amazed that this majestical and fantastical Christmas tree started talking with me. And me being me -I started talking right back.
Talking Christmas Tree: Hey little girl with the checkered coat and hat, what's your name?
Me: Kelly Kunik and I'm four. What's your name?
Talking Christmas Tree: Ummmm, no one's ever asked me that before. It's Chris.
Me: Do you know Santa?
Talking Christmas Tree: Yes I do.
Me: Tell him I'm good, OK?
Talking Christmas Tree: Well... are you?
Me: Yes I am. Are you?
And the conversation would continue on. I'd beg my mother to leave me at the the tree's base, so we could keep talking. It being the 70's and things being more loosey goosey, my mother agreed.
I'd tell the Talking Christmas Tree all about my family, my dog Primo, tap dancing class and the star stickers on my tap shoes that I got for remembering the steps that were taught the week before. We talked about Captain Kangaroo and how I preferred purple over pink, and how I'd lost my stuffed Piglet and cried for a week. I told him that I loved carrots and that if you dipped cherry and lime swirl flavored Sweet and Sour Charms lollypops in a glass of water, the water would taste REALLY Good. You name it, and we chatted about it.
And I wasn't the only kid chatting at the base of The Talking Christmas Tree. Hoards of kids would be talking and playing - it was a regular yule log romper room. Store employees handed out kandy kanes & gifts, and we'd stand around The Talking Christmas Tree singing Christmas Songs while simultaniously shouting questions for the Talking Christmas Tree.
Every time we went to the mall during the holidays, I HAD to say hello to the Talking Christmas Tree - I loved him almost as much as I loved Santa.
I remember the day I found out that much like the Wizard of Oz, there was a man behind the curtain doing all the talking. I must have been about 7 at the time and I was with my older sister Cathy. Turns out she knew the Steinbeck's employee who was Chris. I saw him peak out from behind the black curtains to get some facetime with her and say hi. I blinked my eyes to hold the tears back and I felt my face turning six shades of red. If The Talking Christmas Tree was fake, then what about Santa?
I held onto Santa for as long as I could though, because deep inside I knew that once I stopped believing in Santa, I would be well on my way to growing up. And at 7, I wasn't quite ready for that.