My Christmas present to you is this lovely little story about letters to Santa, lost and found — the enduring holiday spirit that mere centuries cannot dim.
Abigail Samoun, my editor at Tricycle Press, sent me this card. Although I laughed, honesty compels me to say I LIKE fruitcake. I even love some fruitcakes, so none ever sits around long enough to become fossilized in my home.
Tricycle published my first picture book, Why Explore?, as well as two additional books. However, as an imprint of Ten Speed Press, it was acquired along with that company by a larger publisher five years ago, and poor Tricycle was disbanded.
But Abigail and I have a happy ending. We continue to work together because she is now my literary agent.
So Abi, I’m still waiting for my fruitcake, fossilized or otherwise.
Actually, I like cookie everything when it comes to gingerbread.
My Aunt Majlis used to bake barrels of cookies every year and always sent us round tins of pepparkaken, crisp little Swedish ginger cookies. I liked them, especially dunked in milk, but I love thick, soft gingerbread, and this is the time of year one might actually find some without having to bake from scratch.
So I’ll keep an eye on Santa’s cookie plate and tell him that I have dibs on any gingerbread.
Whether or not gingerbread is involved, may your Christmas be as magical as those of our childhoods. Check out this Christmas morning past for my sister and me. That’s the year I received my guaranteed-to-burn-your-fingers-on-the-hot-metal View Master slide projector that I absolutely adored. You can see it sitting bottom left near my new Lamb Chop pajama bag.
Happy December 18th! I cheated a little here. This isn’t a Christmas card, but I so enjoy illustrator Adam Gustavson’s journey into quirky land that I had to include Vern Halsey and his pet Komodo Dragon, Felix. And, in keeping with the season, a Christmas tree does peek out of the background.
Adam created the wonderful art for my picture book, Calico Dorsey Mail Dog of the Mining Camps. I hope I have the chance to work with him again, but until then, I am happy to share his illustrations.
Two Bad Mice: that’s the name of the company that made this card sent a couple of years ago at Christmas by Christina. I briefly hosted Christina when she was a young exchange student in California. Originally from Germany, she now lives in Zurich. Luckily, this card traveled more safely through the postal system than the package she once sent me.
Christina wrote, “I’m sure you’ll know how to enjoy and please do not diet,” as though I would take the card’s message to heart. Don’t worry, I’d never muster the willpower to pass up treats during the holiday season when there are far too many temptations to sample.
I’m not sure which mouse is my favorite, the one licking the ooey gooey marshmallow or the little one with his paws stretched wide in anticipation. Which mouse are you?
My friends Michael and Irena, who live in a suburb of Washington, D.C., sent me this holiday card with a firm sense of place. I not only love that it includes the Capitol as a centerpiece, but also enjoy the wintry ambiance of Pennsylvania Avenue in days gone by. Trams, horse drawn sleighs and a whole city full of busy people populate the snowy street.
The little town where I live is far less busy, but I was reminded of this scene when my daughter and I attended the town’s annual Christmas fair last weekend. We rode in a light-strung, horse drawn carriage that followed close behind another. Listening to the clop of hooves trotting down the street, seeing familiar buildings from a higher, unfamiliar perch — it was a step back in time and the perfect kick off to the holidays. Now if only there had been a light dusting of snow…
The Festival of Light begins early in December this year. Although I celebrate Christmas, I keep track of Hanukkah because my mother’s family is Jewish. My dad’s family wasn’t, and my parents chose to raise my sister and me with Christmas trees and stockings and visits to the department store Santa.
My mother’s sister, Betty, celebrated Hanukkah with her husband and daughter, but they always visited our home for Christmas dinner. Aunt Betty hosted Thanksgiving, and that’s how the two sisters divided the holidays year after year, decade after decade.
When Hanukkah rolls around, I don’t think of menorahs and dreidels. Instead, when I call my Aunt Betty to wish her a happy holiday, I remember how much she and my mother, Carlyn, enjoyed each other’s company every Christmas.
Growing up in California, I knew that the weather was more likely to turn warm than bitter cold for Christmas. Despite that climate reality, we have always “played” at winter during the holidays. Temperatures might drop down to the 50s or 60s, and every retailer knows that the mindset for Christmas shopping is “Brrrrrrrrr!”
So mannequins sport sweaters and mufflers, fake snow drapes window displays and we all fantasize about crackling fires and roasting chestnuts.
However, in those parts of the world never touched by cold snaps or climatologically reversed from Old World winters (like Australia), Santa has traded his trousers for swimming trunks and his fur trim for flippers.
Say hello to the Summer Santa!
My friend, Carol Buck, sent the top card from Hawaii — “Mele Kalikimaka” from a world of tropical reefs and year-round snorkeling, though I have no idea how Santa and Rudolph constructed theirs. Bamboo?
A different friend, also named Carol, sent Santa in an outrigger canoe, his reindeer paddling happily with him (perhaps because they finally ditched Rudolph and his “nose so bright”). A rainbow paints the sky, and their destination is just visible as the tip of a rocky shore.
I love how plumeria rather than sleigh bells decorate the struts of the canoe.
Finally, Helen in Melbourne, Australia sent me surfing Santa and his greeting of “Happy Christmas.” Those waves prove a challenge for most of the elves, but Santa sure knows how to ride his board.
And if you are enjoying a traditional December of cold and ice where you live, warm your hands for a moment with these Summer Santas.
Somewhere, hidden away (so well I can’t remember where to find them) are my daughter’s letters to Santa. There aren’t many because the span of years between her learning to write and her relinquishing her belief in the magical fellow was brief.
Yet, for a few years, literacy and wonder combined. Before she wrote letters, she simply told me what she wanted Santa to bring her. Dumbo one year, the Bambi movie another — whatever loomed large on her childhood horizon.
If you have a little one writing a letter to Santa this year, or are penning one yourself, you may use the image at the top of this page to decorate a card or stationery. It’s available (for free) on the Graphic Fairy website.
And get those letters in the mailbox; this is the busiest time of year for the post office AND the North Pole!