Christmas Joy in Window Displays and Festival of Trees

Bundled up in my pink ski jacket and fur trimmed bonnet, I stood enchanted by the brightly lit animated display of Santa’s workshop. The Simpson’s department store window in downtown Toronto had cast a magic spell over me. I remember the feeling of absolute wonder and joy as I clapped my hands. And then I felt my dad tug my arm and together we jostled through the crowd to the next amazing spectacle.

For decades the corner of Toronto’s Queen and Yonge streets were homes for two rival department stores, Eaton’s and Simpson’s. And each Christmas they competed for who could outdo the other with exciting window displays. According the historians, during their peak in the 1950’s and 1960’s, crowds would gather around the windows, particularly in the evenings when the Yuletide exhibits were all lit up. That’s when the scenes cast their magical spells, captivating everyone on the streets.

Today, I get the same sense of childlike awe and wonder when I walk into the local Bay Centre during the Festival of Trees Event. For seven weeks starting around mid-November through to January 2nd, the mall becomes an enchanted forest bedecked with twinkling lights, festive store front displays and imaginatively trimmed trees. It’s a time of the year when local merchants, businesses and organization give back with their creativity, love of their town and desire to see the faces of shoppers delighted and surprised.

The Victoria Festival of Trees is a trademark traditional event in Victoria that raises funds for the BC Children’s Hospital. A nominal donation allows the public to vote for their favorite tree. It is a great way for parents to teach their children the importance of giving during the holiday season and have fun at the same time.

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Charli Mills’ November 23, 2017 Flash Fiction Challenge was to write a story in 99 words (no more, no less) about Five a Day. It does not have to be five servings of fruits and vegetables.  What is needed five times a day? Have fun with what pops to mind for the prompt.

One cannot help but be drawn in by the infectious holiday spirit that sparkles around every corner of Victoria. It is my favorite time of the year and I’ve been counting the days for the first of December to arrive because that is when I plan to put up my Christmas trees. So, for me it is no surprise that Charli’s prompt led me to a Christmas themed story about finding joy by giving it to others.

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” — Charles Dickens


Marcy took a deep breath. She was about to launch her presentation to the Scrooge of all clients at the ad agency. 

“Mr. Wroth, Christmas is about rekindling hope and joy—”

“Nonsense. It’s just a day in the calendar. I’m tired of campaigns where our cookies light up children’s faces with Christmas voodoo. Got something else?”

“I do.”

“Humph. Go on then.”

“I’m suggesting people buy your amazing cookies and when they share five of them a day with others it will take their blues away.”

“Christmas Prozac. I like it!”

Marcy couldn’t help but roll her eyes.

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5 thoughts on “Christmas Joy in Window Displays and Festival of Trees

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  1. I’ve only seen such windows in movies! But I love the Christmas lights people put on their homes. It is a Season of Joy no matter what is going on in the world, and I appreciate the lights that remind me of what’s good, wonderous and uplifting. Enjoy your Victoria Season of Joy!

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    1. I was going to add a post-script to my post to explain what happened to the stores Simpson’s and Eaton’s since neither exist today. It became way too long and convoluted. Apparently before my time, in 1952 Simpson’s (who was primarily a mail order company via their catalogue) was bought by Sears Roebuck and officially known as Simpsons-Sears. I just remember the sign on the building at the corner of Yonge and Queen reading Simpson’s, not Simpsons-Sears. But then maybe I remember it wrong – who knows. In the late ’70’s it became Hudson’s Bay (aka The Bay), which it continues to be today. Apparently Hudson’s Bay bought the ‘Simpson’s’ side of Simpsons-Sears and then Sears went on to buy Eaton’s when if filed for bankruptcy. Gets confusing, doesn’t it! Either way, I’m glad Hudson’s Bay has continued the tradition of creative Christmas window displays. Thanks for dropping in and chatting! 🙂


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