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Library display features Santy collection

November 26, 2013
Dysart Reporter

Santa Claus, aka Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle, and simply "Santa," is a figure with legendary, mythical, historical and folkloric origins who, in many western cultures, is said to bring gifts to the homes of the good children on the night before Christmas, December 24. Father Christmas belongs to the English holiday traditions. Pere Noel was French. Kriss Kringle came from Germany in the 18th century. St. Nicholas, who wears bishop's robes, was the patron saint of sailors in the Netherlands and delivers his presents on December 6th. The modern figure of Santa Claus was derived from the Dutch figure of Sinterklaas. The American Santa Claus is the bearded man who gives gifts to children at Christmastime. Santa Claus is generally depicted as a portly, joyous, white-bearded man wearing a red coat with white collar and cuffs, white-cuffed red trousers, and black leather belt and boots and carries a full bag of gifts for children. The Norma Anders Library lobby display for the month of December is home to Arlene Krafka's "Santy" collection. Arlene writes, "My Santa collection was started in 1953, the first Christmas after my marriage to Robert Krafka and moving to Tama County from Buchanan County when "old blue eyes" was purchased at Ernie Srp's five and dime store next to Cold's Super Market on the east side of Dysart's Main Street, " (generally the same location as the Dysart library today!) He was purchased for 98 cents plus 2 cents sales tax! "A couple of years later I needed to find a Christmas gift for my Women's Club Secret Sister, I went looking and found a heavy red crystal votive in the shape of a Santa's bust. Mary's new home decor was red, black and white. There was a green one, too, and it became my own and the red one was right for Mary! This is how the "collection" started!" Some parameters were needed - small, not more than 3 to 4 inches wide, not more than 5-6" tall, no "clothique" and CHEAP, no more than $1 to $3, facial features were important and only one a year - and she abided by these rules when looking for new additions to her Santy collection. Others not fitting her criteria have been gifts from friends and relatives. Eventually, the quality improved as the economy rose. Arlene and her old school chum started scouting out antique shops across Iowa and Wisconsin. Santas made nice collecting items so there went the "one new Santa a year" rule. Her friend started giving a Santa to her every Christmastime and Arlene's sister on the Eastern seaboard added to the collection, however, neither were aware of the size limitations. Most of the largest Santas are from her sister. Although she no longer gets around well enough to "shop the shops" she still adds to the collection from the many museum, art and craft, major department and jewelry store catalogs from across the country and now she has no price limitations. Her dear friend from her school days died last year but her family continues to add to the Santy collection as she affectionately refers to them. From the beginning, Old Blue Eyes always was placed on Mom's kitchen sink window sill as her children recall. Eventually the rest of the collection joined him there each Christmas season. Just a few years ago the group had to be relocated across the kitchen in the dinette area on the hutch counter. That countertop is wall to wall Santies. Her grandchildren are now responsible for decorating Grandma's home at Thanksgiving time. Last year as granddaughters Emily, Amy and Nicole Krafka were setting up the Santy display, Nicole suggested, "Grandma, you need to put these in the library display cases!) So whether you recognize him as St. Nicholas, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle, Santa Claus or Santy, Mrs. Krafka's collection is spending its holiday season at the Dysart Library for all to enjoy this year. Stop by to view during library hours through mid January when they will go back home in time for the Krafka family Christmas gathering. The Krafka family sends special greetings to their grandsons who are temporarily assigned through their work and are living in Bury St. Edmund, England; Mozambique, South Africa; and Portland, Oregon, and will not be home over the holidays. They also wish everyone in the community a blessed Christmas!



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