Thursday, December 5, 2019

What's in a Holiday? by Nancy Fraser

While I love and respect friends and family who celebrate holidays and traditions different than mine, for me it's always been about Christmas!

I'm the freakishly tall one on the left!
 Growing up in the 1950s, my holiday memories revolve around garish silver Christmas trees and large family gatherings. Relatives from both near and far made their way to my grandmother's house and though it was only a two-bedroom duplex there always seemed to be room.

I was an only child but I had more cousins than I could count on both hands and feet ... a testament to the strong beliefs of the Catholic side of the family!

One of my favorite December activities was my annual trip to see Santa Claus. Because my mother worked retail on the weekends, the task of taking me always fell to my Aunt Sybil (Sissie to us kids) and she never failed to do her auntly duty! The day began with a ride on the big city bus to downtown Detroit where we took the crickity old operator-driven elevator to the 24th floor of J.L. Hudsons. The elevator door opened and ... there it was ... Santa's Village in all its replendant glory!

There was always a picture taken, followed by lunch in the department store's restaurant. My meal consisted of my favored hot dog, french fries, and chocolate milk. Topped off with a Mickey Mouse Sundae ... a scoop of chocolate ice cream, two chocolate wafer cookies for ears, and a nose made of a half a marachino cherry. Not gourmet fare by any stretch of the imagination but, to a kid, a banquet to enjoy!

My aunt would entertain me on the bus ride home with a story about the young Virginia and her quest for the truth. It went something like this:

In 1897, Virginia O'Hanlon asked a plain question of the New York Sun's editor: 'Is there a Santa Claus?' 

'Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus', came the terse reply. The answer, though, was not a patent fib designed to placate a youngster, but an exposition on belief itself. 'Virginia, your little friends are wrong', the editor wrote. 'They have been affected by the scepticism of a sceptical age. They do not believe except they see'. Without Santa, he argued, there would he no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence ... Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

At the ripe old age of six I didn't need someone to tell me what I knew to be true ... of course there was a Santa. After all, I'd just had my picture taken with him.

I'm all grown up now, but I still revel in the joy of the holidays through my grandchildren's eyes. And, even though there's only one who still believes, there will always be gifts from "Santa" under the tree!
In the spirit of the holiday season, I'm sharing some of my favorite family recipes over on my website. If you need some additional inspiration, you can find it at Nancy's Holiday Treats.

Given that we're approaching a new "Roaring Twenties", I thought I'd give away a copy of my 1920's holiday romance, Erin's Gift. All you have to do to win is comment about one of your family's holiday traditions (the holiday doesn't matter). Please also leave your email address so I can send you a copy if your name is drawn.

Here's a peek at the book:

Prohibition Era, Chicago

Caught in a raid at an illegal speakeasy, good girl Erin O'Mara loses everything: her job, her home, and her reputation. Handsome and so out of her league attorney Seth Harrison, her best friend's brother, rescues her not once, but twice. He bails her out of jail and offers her a job as nanny for his son.

Seth has no intention of falling in love after the death of his wife. But despite his better judgment, he can't help being drawn to Erin's innocence. This Christmas, letting go of the past and embracing the future may be the greatest present of all.

Don't forget to enter our December Rafflecopter contest, "Candy Cane Kisses". You can find all the details about the contest on our Monthly Giveaway page. Or, you can go straight to the ENTRY FORM.

If I don't get back to the blog again before the holidays, have a great one!

Peace out ...


  1. Lovely story, Nancy. Your lunch is just perfect-topped by a a sundae. Did you have a long list? The department store where I visited Santa didn't decorate except to give him a chair. I did like going in the basement were they kept him. Tables of discounted clothing. Then my mom took me on the elevator upstairs. The ride was my highlight.

  2. Christmas definitely is a magical time of year!!

  3. I LOVE THIS! Childhood, Santa, happy memories...SO sweet! Brings me back to Christmas outings with my mom. A different city, but a similar day, including shopping, decorations and that jolly ol' elf. Plus, lunch in the department store restaurant. Your book sounds great, too! :D

  4. Your book sounds great. Our daughter just did a mystery party set in the roaring twenties. We had a lot of fun.
    Christmas is my favorite time of the year. Mom used to make the best candy AND real fudge, not Fantasy Fudge. This fudge would melt in your mouth. Made in an iron skillet and poured in a buttered platter to cool. I remember it was very time consuming.

    1. Karen, I may be the only left but I still make my fudge that way. I also make the quick microwave fudge with my youngest grandchild, but that's more for fun than for gift giving.

  5. Love this, Nancy. I also come from a big Catholic family on my mom's side with 50+ first cousins.

  6. decorating
    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  7. What a lovely memory, Nancy. Made me think of all the fun times we had when my brothers and I were silly kids.


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