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The Perfect Brightness of Christmas

Wrapped in a nostalgic moment on St. George Boulevard

As I walked into Steamroller Copies on St. George Boulevard recently, a strange feeling swept over me while waiting for an attendant. Something about that room was familiar, tugging at my memory. As a wave of realization rolled over me, I knew I was standing in a significant place. Though the room seemed much smaller now, I was in fact in the middle of what, more than a half-century ago, was the sales floor of Pickett’s Hardware Store—that mythic space where every December the childhood Christmas dreams of an entire community took shape.

I was five and standing in a long line that wound up and down the store aisles, an endless serpentine of brightly dressed humanity: restless kids and impatient parents inching their way past pots and pans and shiny new bikes and wagons and Tonka trucks and Chatty Cathy dolls. I’m tugging Mom’s arm, desperately trying to move things along. But the line crawls as slowly as melting ice on a winter’s morning.

I see Santa on a raised platform at the north end. He sits, as if in a cloud, in all his crimson glory. His thundering HO-HO-HO booms through my little chest even from where I stand. It’s enough to keep my hope intact and my will firm.

My mind wrestles in an excruciating series of deliberations over the three items I am allowed to petition for, and it comes down to the flaming red fire engine on one side of the aisle, the glossy set of farm animals on the other side, or the glittering silver pair of Roy Rogers six-shooters hanging in their imitation leather holster on the wall.

Then, suddenly, the attendant addressed me, jolting me back to the present—the cloud of Christmas memories giving way to the business of the moment. When finished, I lingered in that hallowed space and remembered an entire generation of St. George kids gathered there. It was a magical room for all of us. A place where we could dream and a place where we could share those dreams with someone magnanimous enough to grant them.

I’m grateful to my parents for their role in that magic. Because somehow, through some miraculous formula, I knew I could count on that flaming red fire engine or that glossy set of farm animals or the glittering silver Roy Rogers six-shooters to appear under our tree Christmas morning.

Such memories are part of the perfect brightness of Christmas, that perfect brightness of hope that should burn in every child’s heart.

  • Lyman Hafen
  • Santa in all his crimson glory
  • Memories are part of the perfect brightness of Christmas