I’m guessing it was 1976. We lived in an apartment carved out of a big old house in a small town in New York state, with the owners living on the other side of our front room wall.
The landlady was also my son’s babysitter. At 4 ½, my boy still clung to his belief in Santa Claus, insisting that Santa was real, in spite of what some of his friends said.
It was the landlord’s tradition to host a big family party, complete with a visit from St. Nick, himself, every year. All the kids and grandkids in this big, warm Irish family got together at the house on the weekend before Christmas, for some hot chocolate and shenanigans.
The parents gathered in the kitchen for drinks. The kids ran all over the house. One of adults lit a fire in the fireplace when, all of a sudden, Santa burst in the front door with a laundry bag full of wrapped presents. The littlest kids shrieked, Santa ho-hoed, and the grown-ups laughed, winked and spilled their beers.
Naturally, Santa knew the names of all the children in the house, probably because he was the oldest grandson.
My kid was completely captivated by Santa Claus. Just look at the rapture in his eyes. For weeks and weeks, he told everyone who would listen that Santa WAS real and had come to his own house to personally hand him a present. I think it was a Hess truck, one of his all-time favorite toys.