Editor’s Letter: Christmas in Detroit and the 2023 Gift Guide

Hour Detroit’s editor-in-chief talks our December 2023 issue including this year’s gift guide and past Detroit Christmas traditions.
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To many of our readers and to thousands of Detroiters, going to the downtown Hudson’s at Christmastime was the highlight of the season. I caught the tail end of Hudson’s heyday, and although I have little more than fuzzy memories of a wooden escalator and Santaland, I can still appreciate what it means to so many people.

One of the department store’s biggest fans was my godfather and uncle, Joseph Maguire, who passed away earlier this year. Even though he had lived in northern California for the past 50 years, he still loved talking about growing up in Detroit and going to Hudson’s. Joe introduced me to Detroit-centric Facebook groups such as J.L. Hudson’s Department Store, 5,000 Ways You Know You’re from Detroit, and Historical Detroit Area Architecture, and through them I learned even more about the city’s past from posts by folks of all ages.

Kate Walsh // Photograph by Brad Ziegler
Kate Walsh // Photograph by Brad Ziegler

In July, someone in one of the groups asked: “Does anyone remember Hudson’s at Christmastime?” Boy, do they ever. People posted childhood photos of themselves with Santa from the ’50s and recalled the train display, the snowman slide, and the beautifully decorated windows. It’s Hudson’s window I remember best, with their enchanting (and sometimes creepy) animatronics. (See more about Hudson’s and Santaland in this month’s The Way It Was).

It’s no surprise that Detroiters — like most people — like to remember happy events from the past. A look at the print stories that our readers clicked on most in 2023 proves that point. A common theme among half of the articles in the top 12 is nostalgia. They include stories about metro Detroit’s last drive-in theater, Michigan Central’s reopening, General Motors Co.’s headquarters, Diana Lewis, Kirk Gibson, and the sale of a Fisher mansion.

The rest of the articles on the list show us that you have a variety of interests, including local travel (Michigan beach towns and Midwest roller coasters), health (Top Doctors), community (a food desert in Detroit), design (a midcentury Bloomfield Hills home), and everything metro Detroit has to offer (Best of Detroit).

In this month’s issue, we bring you two things that Hudson’s did best: retail and holiday festivities. For this year’s edition of our annual gift guide, we focus on treasures you can find at classic Detroit venues, such as The Henry Ford, Pewabic Pottery, and the Motown Museum.

And in our Agenda section, we bring you three pages of local holiday events, a list of local craft markets, and an article on holiday activity-based road trips in Michigan. We also have a profile on Jalen Duren, the 20-year-old basketball player who is giving us a reason to be hopeful about the Pistons in the new year.

Thank you for being part of the Hour Detroit family this year. Here’s to creating new metro Detroit memories that your family will talk about for generations.


This story is from the December 2023 issue of Hour Detroit magazine. Read more in our digital edition.