Anyone born before television looks at Santa Claus with a much different view than those born after this great invention. Prior to 1950, children only got a chance to see Santa Claus for three or four weeks — the beginning of December until Christmas Eve. He was not seen on a daily basis, only when the family went to town or at a special holiday event, like a Sunday school party, so a child would see Santa Claus maybe two or three times a season.

That was alright with me because, as a small child, I really did not like Santa Claus. At 3 or 4, I actually was scared of him. Here was this big guy in a funny red suit, and boy was he old, with white hair and a beard. And that loud “Ho, ho, ho.”

One Friday night before Christmas, my parents and I were in front of Newberry’s on Bridge Street when, out of nowhere, he appeared and grabbed for me with those huge white gloved hands and those "Ho, ho, ho"s. I took off down Bridge Street and almost got to Gay Street before my father caught up with me.

I remember much of Christmas as told by Jean Shepard in his movie made for television, “A Christmas Story.” It takes place in the 1940s. It has become a Christmas classic and can be seen many times on TV. There is even a Broadway version at this time. It is a real treat, as Jean Shepard was a great story teller.

My parents had the bright idea to have Santa come and decorate our tree while I was taking an afternoon nap the week before Christmas. Santa decorated most trees on Christmas Eve at that time. I later found out my parents’ reason to do this that they didn’t want a mess to clean up before going to bed on Christmas Eve.

There was one time I still swear that I saw Santa Claus decorating our tree. My mother said this never happened. I must have been dreaming. I am still not sure that it was a dream.

I still believed in Santa when I was well into grade school. Kids at that time believed in Santa much longer than kids do today. I don’t know if I really believed or just didn’t want to take the chance of not getting gifts ... so I believed.

The other night, in the span of a few hours on television, there were 55 Santa appearances. I must confess, I am a channel surfer.

At Christmas time, my mother was in her element of baking, especially nut rolls and what we called little Hungarian cakes. She was up before dawn after preparing and refrigerating the dough the night before. She liked to bake when no one was around. By the time I was up, there was a mess of dishes to wash. Guess who was to do the dishes? Me.

Every year, I would claim I did not feel well or I had a headache. My mom thought I was just trying to get out of doing the dishes. I learned from a chemist friend I may have been drunk; the yeast in the dough and the heat from the baking affected me while I was sleeping. Drunk or not, I did the dishes.

My mom also like to baked sugar cookies. She always made a lot because my cousin Gloria (Hughes) Dickey loved her sugar cookies. I don’t know if my mom’s recipe is unique — it was just that she made them with love.

My Mom's Sugar Cookies

½ lb. butter or margarine (sticks)

1¼ cup granulated sugar

3 large eggs

3 cups all-purpose flour

¼ tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla

Confectioners sugar

Cream butter or margarine. Blend in sugar. Add eggs one at a time. Beat for a few minutes. Add vanilla. Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Work dry ingredients into cream mixture to form a workable dough. Refrigerate approximately one hour. Roll dough out on confectioners sugar to about ¼-inch thick. Cut into favorite shapes with cookie cutters or glass rim. Place on ungreased cookie sheet or line with parchment paper. Bake in a 350-degree preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Optional to decorate.


Greetings of the season!

Let Bette hear from you: Search YouTube for “Look Who’s Cooking with Bette Banjack,” as well (search bar: Banjack) for this column. Find Bette on Facebook by searching “Bette Banjack’s Downtown Kitchen.” Her book, “2 Cups of Yesterday,” is available at Gateway Pharmacy or by contacting her.

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