On one of these trips - and I'm not certain if it was before my Grandma Ruby Reed died in 1963, or afterwards - I was given something magical, that delighted my reader's heart. It was a scrapbook that Grandma Ruby had put together of some children's stories about Santa Claus, that were published in ladies' magazines in the 1920's. They were written by Sarah Addington and illustrated by Gertrude Kay.
The first story was "There Was a Boy Who Lived on Pudding Lane", subtitled, "A True Account, if Only You Believe it, of the Life and Ways of Santa, Eldest Son of Mr. and Mrs. Claus". In these stories the author seamlessly and believably (at least to an 8-year old girl) interweaves her version of Santa Claus with all the Mother Goose nursery rhymes and stories. This one begins:
Once upon a time in the kingdom of Old King Cole there lived a father and a mother and a fat little boy who always dressed in a bright red suit. The father, whose name was Mr. Claus, was a baker, and he lived on Pudding Lane, between the butcher and the candlestick-maker.
Mr. Claus was really about the best baker in the world. He knew so well how to make little cake puppies with red currant eyes. And he knew so well how to make funny gingerbread Brownies with black raisin eyes. He made great fat loaves of bread, warm and golden and crusty. And he made little plum tarts that a boy could eat up in one gobble, and a girl could eat up in two.
All year long Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus worked to make toys. Santa cut down straight pine and spruce trees. He carved dolls and horses and rabbits out of wood, and Mrs. Claus painted them until her arms ached. He made dolls of sawdust and linen, and Mrs. Claus dressed them in the latest doll styles, in blue and pink silk, with lace on the edge of their bonnets. Santa made a roomful of rocking horses; it seemed that every little boy in the world wanted a rocking horse. And Mrs. Claus made candy until she said she thought she'd turn into candy. Whereupon Santa told her she was sweet enough for that anyway!
And so it is that Santa Claus has come every year since that first Christmas, and will keep on coming - forever.