I remember the first time I heard there was no such thing as Santa Claus. It was at a sleepover at my friend Jackie's - I was five and she was a couple of years older than me. We were brushing our teeth when she said it, there was no such thing as Santa Claus - and I responded with stunned silence. No Santa? No jolly, big man in red? It was a crushing revelation; my life was a sham! Were there no such thing as unicorns and mermaids either? Betrayed... by parental cabal! My return home was like entering enemy territory, for about five minutes until when my mom, surrounded in a halo of lights and evergreen and red ribbon sat me down and told me the truth, about Santa and the holiday season and what it all means and why we celebrate it - you know, peace on earth, good will towards men and all that.
It is very difficult to stay upset during the holiday season; between cranberry velvet and window displays, egg nog (you may not know this but egg nog is actually made of peace on earth and good will towards men), lights on trees, the wafting scent of chestnuts roasting on an open fire and Burl Ives on the radio; but for me, nothing fills me with the warmth of the season than suspending belief for just a moment and sinking in to a classic Christmas film like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, A Christmas Story, March of the Wooden Soldiers, Scrooge (with Albert Finney not Alastair Sim - that's very important). When it comes down to it, for me, Christmas is and always will be, a place to live in.
Where better to step in to Christmas than Santa's Workshop in North Pole, NY?
When Patti Reiss asked her father Julian if he would take her to Santa's Workshop he did what all parents do - he avoided the question. At least that is what I think he did. But he was also inspired; imagine being able to say yes. With the help of North Country natives Arto Monaco and Harold Fortune, Reiss developed the precurser to the modern day theme park and since its opening, parents have been able to bring their children to an entire world of make-believe. It's a theme park geared towards old-timey, child-friendly fun with nursery rhyme characters and performers, pint-sized rides (most rides are tailored to little ones 48" and smaller) and is the residence of the jolly big man himself. It's imbued with the spirit of nostalgia and imagination; instead of bigger, faster, flashier, Santa's Workshop encourages children and parents alike to believe in laughter, peace, joy and goodwill and those of us who are young at heart are encouraged to "remember when".
Santa's Workshop is a vintage amusement park in its most pure form; instead of pyrotechnics and thrills, it is made of love and belief and a beautiful example of mid-century style and holiday charm. If the court room delivery of letters to Santa in Miracle on 34th Street warms your heart or you can't help but forget what it was like to not believe when reading Francis Pharcellus Church's editorial on the existence of Santa, Santa's Workshop is the sweet spot of magical simplicity wrapped in holiday cheer and postmarked North Pole for children of all ages.
PS - No, really, it is actually postmarked North Pole, and if Santa's Workshop mails a letter between Thanksgiving and Christmas it can be postmarked that way.
Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
- Francis Pharcellus Church, New York Sun 1879