Thursday, October 7, 2010

Kelly & The Talking Christmas Tree


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.

16 comments:

Scott said...

Its funny how these things happen. When I was about 4 years old, there was a street light by my house. It would come on magically when it started to get dark, and I used to beg my parents to take me outside and wait for "the magic light" to turn on. Only then could I go to bed and sleep peacefully. To some extent, these myths are damaging because they become crushing when the man behind the curtain is revealed. I'm still on the fence as to whether a diabetes cure could emerge. There is scientific advancement, but I think the lie about it being right around the corner is one of medicine's cruelest jokes.

Araby62 (a.k.a. Kathy) said...

Oh NO! You must have been devastated! My older brother broke the Santa thing to me when I was about 5, he found all the presents stashed in Mom's closet when we were looking for our cat one day. She was not happy ;)

And why does it not surprise me that you were a tapdancer at that age?!

Penny said...

What a delightful story Kelly! thank you so much for sharing it. There is so much innocence in it.

I am reminded of my childhood every time I see the Wanamakers (never never Macys, always W in my heart) light show. John Facendas voice takes me back to being a little girl, standing near the eagle with my father and watching in magic as the story is told. To this day, it's just magic to me.

Reyna said...

7 is too young, you are right. I am so afraid Joe will figure out Santa this year...as his older sister is 9 and started questioning Santa's authenticity last year.

I am intrigued at the whole talking tree, Chris...thing. I have never heard of it and it sounds like an uber-awesome memory...part of your unique history Kelly. Thanks for sharing...nice to know a little of your non-D past...

Cara said...

I love that story. :) Growing up is hard to do.

thisiscaleb said...

Oh, this was such a lovely story and such a disappointing ending.

I'm sorry you had to witness the man behind the curtain. :(

George said...

I stumbled across the Christmas presents one year and it destroyed all the magic.

I am 37 and I am not ready to grow up!

Great post Kelly. No D-Day is awesome!

shannon said...

I love all the details, especially the stickers on your tap shoes and the way lollipops make water taste better. Great post, thanks!

Hannah said...

Great story, sister. Thanks for sharing.

Ashley Rose said...

I distinctly remember asking my mother if she was the Easter Bunny. Her response? 'Do I look like the Easter Bunny?!' Once the jig was up, I still held on to Santa for a while even though I knew the handwriting on the notes he left for me was eerily similar to my mother's. He's just too awesome to let go of right away :)

Cherise said...

Awesome story! Niya asked if I could take her to the talking Christmas tree! Twin- you should write children's books.

Message from Niya

I really <3 it!

Wendy said...

Kel, I LOVE these glimpses into your life. I always enjoy reading them and always feel inspired.

Thanks for making me feel like a kid again.

I needed that ;)

Bob said...

I turned 47 last month, and I still believe in Santa.

Leighann of D-Mom Blog said...

I'm not looking forward to the day that my kids lose belief in the magic.

This year we are taking the Polar Express to the North Pole. The kids really think we are going there. (I hope it snows so that it looks northerly!)

The kids are encouraged to wear pajamas and we got tickets for the trip that takes place at bedtime after dark.

The train trip even includes waiters with hot, hot, hot, hot chocolate.

I hope they tap dance!

nancy said...

great post! i loved that tree too! havent thought about it in years!

Julie H said...

Great post Kelly! Childhood memories are so precious and you are a wonderful story teller. As for Santa...around age 8 my mom told me if I stopped believing, Santa would stop bringing gifts. At 33, I still believe and Santa still finds me on Christmas Eve... here's to having a little faith in magic.