What is your earliest memory of meeting Santa?

More Than A Day Away By Mike Steely

I was about 8 years old and on Christmas Eve my brother, sister and I were watching TV and begging to open presents. There was a knock at the back door and it was Santa! He came in and did his “HoHoHo” and gave us each a gift. I learned years later that Santa was the teenage nephew of my stepfather but that memory of Santa coming into our house was a surprise and a childhood delight.

I’ve asked a few other folks about their earliest or most fond memory of meeting or seeing Santa and got some replies:

Carson Dailey: Four years old at the Maryville Christmas parade. Santa was handing out candy.

Laura K Kildare: I waited up all night because I just knew that this was the year… we had moved into a new house with a fireplace and it actually snowed. Heard a bump and there to my delight was a Dancerina doll. Didn’t actually see him, but was completely convinced! I think I was around five. We were living in Norris.

Caterina Angel Heatwole: When I was eight (1971) we (there were six kids) went to see Santa and I got a box of eight big crayons and a book about how Santa began delivering gifts. The book was not new but I loved it. I still have the book. Well, I actually gave it to my grandson 3 years ago on his 8th Christmas. I read that book to so many children over the years.

My second best memory was when I was 10 (1973). My family moved to Cleveland, Tennessee, and it took all our money to get moved and the utilities turned on. My aunt worked at a large sewing factory and the workers sponsored my family for Christmas. We had a Charlie Brown tree that year. We had lived years in Jellico where you went into the mountains and cut you a Christmas tree. My dad was gifted a little tree (barely 3 feet tall) and when he brought it in my little sister asked him where he got the “branch.” All six of us kids went into our own stuff and picked something to give each other. My aunt brought scrap material home and I made each sibling something. One of my brothers still has the pillow shaped like a car I made for him.

Judd Davis: My grandmother worked at Millers on Henley Street and I remember getting to go to the breakfast with Santa as a young child.

George Bove: I was 8 and 1/2 years old, completely sleepless with the thoughts of Christmas racing in my mind. I slowly and quietly snuck my way to the living room where our Christmas tree was displayed and then….my eyes, my poor, poor eyes!

It was so real and so incredibly revealing as I watched my mom making out with Santa!

I remember clearly as Santa glanced at me with his kind eyes and an incredibly familiar voice saying, “George, get your -ss back to bed now.”

I still feel like I may have met him before….hmmm?

Deanne Charlton: I first met Santa at an event in the basement of our Methodist church. He was jolly and sounded exactly like my daddy.