do you believe in santa claus?

The photo above isn’t some random act of Google photo. It is my cousin Suzy visiting Santa Claus at Christmastime, in 1954. A full decade before I was born. A Philadelphia area department store Santa Claus. I am not sure which store.

I have many memories of going to see Santa and to pose for photos. Usually with my sister. I don’t remember us ever having individual Santa photos, we were a three years apart matched set with Santa.

Christmas was magical in Philadelphia when I was little. The Christmas Village at Lit Brothers, the Dickens Village I think at Strawbridge & Clothier, Christmas displays at Gimbels, the organ and Christmas everything at John Wanamakers.

We would go and visit things with my great aunts and then we would also have lunch in the Crystal Tea Room in John Wanamaker’s.

There was of course the year when I was really little and we used to have to do the Crystal Tea Room lunch also with my father’s sister and possibly her daughters as well. My aunts’ daughters were self-perceived Christmas perfect. Never a hair out of place. Also about as warm and fuzzy to me as an ice cube. I have forgotten a lot of our enforced togetherness. It was tough being a kid and knowing to your core they didn’t like you.

What I do remember was the year I accidentally dropped my chocolate milk in my Aunt Teresa’s lap. And she was wearing a white wool Christmas suit. OOPS!

When we went to the Crystal Tea Room I always had scrambled eggs and toast for lunch and chocolate milk. This one year I must’ve been playing too much with the chocolate milk and my mother told me to “drop it”. She probably wanted me to eat my lunch, but literal child that I was I dropped the milk all right… in my aunt’s lap!

Christmas in Philadelphia back then in part was so magical because of all the displays that were about the holidays and celebrating the holidays. They weren’t necessarily attached to specific items or displays of items to buy. It was just about the Christmas season. And you could call it Christmas without everyone freaking out.

Other memories I have include going down to South Philadelphia to my great aunts’ house on Ritner Street. And when I was really little they did the seven fishes. That was when my Uncle Pat or PJ as we called him was alive. He lived with his sisters, and none of them ever married although I remember PJ having girlfriends. PJ had a gruff and gravelly voice and when I was little I remember he used to tease me by asking me if he could have some of my Christmas presents, especially the dolls. My great aunts used to buy us these awesome dolls and I loved them as a little girl.

South Philadelphia was alive with Christmas lights and decorations. They would literally string the lights across the street. It was really pretty I don’t know if they still do that anymore but it was very magical as a kid. And they went all out on Christmas decorations. I found the photo above on Google and that’s what it was like. Streets strong with stars, candy canes, Santas.

My mother’s brother Jack and his family lived up in the Northeast. My Uncle Jackie also loved Christmas. I remember lots of lights and I swear I remember Christmas music being piped outside from the roof a la Clark Griswold and Christmas Vacation. I also remember one year my Aunt Connie taking ceramics classes and making everyone those vintage ceramic Christmas trees. I don’t know if anybody still has any of her trees but I remember they were pretty!

Now did you believe in Santa Claus? We did. It was a truly magical time when we were little and I loved it.

I’m sure my parents didn’t love having to wait until we were all asleep to load up everything under the tree but it was so awesome to come down on Christmas morning and see the presents under the tree and see the crumbs that Santa left behind from the cookies and milk we had put out for him. Of course there was that thing my father used to do – he used to use his non-normal writing hand and leave a note to us from Santa thanking us for the cookies.

In truth, I do remember some of the department store Santa Clauses being more scary than jolly. and while I believed in Santa Claus I never believed that those Santa Claus folks were real. But as a child I did like to play along when it wasn’t scary Santa sitting there waiting for us. Or the occasional boozy Santa who smelled like he had gotten into the Christmas cheer on his lunch break.

As an adult do I still believe in Santa Claus? No, but I believe in the beloved tradition of it all. I also believe how Santa Claus is part of a very magical season. A season of giving and miracles. I do believe in Christmas miracles.

Santa Claus is steeped in history. And thanks to the History Channel you can read all about it on their website.

Christmas is a really special time of year and even though it is highly commercialized I’m really glad that some of the traditions still endure. There is one Christmas memory that I wish I had actual photos for and I was really little. And it is the memory I am going to leave you with today.

When I was a really little girl, my parents had a red VW bug. That was the car they had so that was the car that used to get a Christmas tree strapped to the top of it. Our house in Philadelphia had really tall ceilings so it was easily a 10 or an 11 foot tree that would get strapped to the top of the Bug.

I remember one snowy Christmas as a little girl and I’m thinking it was the Christmas of 1969. They bundled me up and I went with my father to pick up the Christmas tree. I remember going through the snowy dark streets of Philadelphia down to a railyard. I’m guessing around South Philadelphia but I’m not really sure. I remember people buying trees as they were pulled off the freight cars. It was snowing too.

This will always be one of my favorite Christmas memories and I’ve never forgotten it. As a matter of fact that is part of the reason why I bought a couple of Christmas ornaments that were mercury glass a couple of years ago that were VW Bugs with little Christmas trees on top. I also bought them because my husband loves VW Bugs.

Every family has Christmas traditions and Christmas memories. And part of the magic of the season is trying to keep these traditions alive as we go forward throughout our lives. Yet we have to adapt them to our living circumstances today. I will note that I still to an extent put ornaments on the tree the way my father did. From size, to shape, to really special ornaments last.

Next week is Thanksgiving, and then after that we are full court press into the Christmas season. Don’t just make it a race to the finish line, actually take a minute and enjoy the magic. And go see Santa Claus.

Thanks for stopping by.

dear santa can you help?

Dear Santa,

Hi there! Are you getting your letters from Chester County, PA?  I am sorry to ask  during this time of year, but you see parts of Chester County has an on again, off again mail problem.

You see, part of Chester County PA’s Mail sorts through another city and state. Yes, it’s true, part of Chester County’s mail sorts through Wilmington, Delaware!

Imagine, you send your next door neighbor a card and it takes not days , but weeks to arrive. Why? Because the mail sorts through Wilmington, Delaware!

Imagine you have an awesome local post office and equally terrific mail carriers. Imagine how awful they feel when they have to knock on your door and hand you damaged mail and damaged packages that sometimes look like the football after Monday Night Football! Why? Because the mail came to Chester County via Wilmington, Delaware!

Imagine you are waiting for a registered or priority package and you are tracking it on and you watch it travel from pillar to post and then it just stalls for a couple of days…in Wilmington, Delaware. (with no explanation, ever.)

Santa, it is sad but true. When you complain the United States Postal Service doesn’t honor their “we deliver for you” they terrorize your local mail carriers and post office or they blow you off entirely. Heck maybe YOU can get them to respond to emails – because unless you are contacting the Office of The Inspector General, you stand a pretty good chance of being totally blown off.

Last time I went on a tirade against Chester County PA mail partially sorting through Wilmington, Delaware I was told off the record that the reason mail from Chester County sorts through another state entirely was Joe Biden and is this true?  So should I be writing to Joe Biden instead of you Santa Claus?

I have a theory and that is the postal workers in the sorting facility in Wilmington,  Delaware resent having to also sort Chester County, Pennsylvania mail.  And that is why I hypothesize why mail goes missing, has inexplicable delays, and gets damaged. And who can blame them?  Wouldn’t you be upset if some politicians just doubled your workloads because they thought that was the solution to some stupid political agenda? 

December 1, 2016 update: spoke to consumer affairs personnel in Washington, DC in the Postmaster General’s Office after getting blown off by Philadelphia Consumer Affairs and the office of the USPS OIG. Santa would you like to receive a priority package marked fragile that looks like this?

So Santa, if you can talk to USPS about the mail and ask them to do something about the Chester County, Pennsylvania mail partially sorting in Wilmington, Delaware that would be an awesome stocking stuffer this Christmas!

east goshen farmers market holiday market – thursday december 20!


(Don’t forget to like their new page on Facebook!)

a vintage holiday barn sale….how can you resist?

I wonder, is there a Christmas or holiday ditty about a-barning-we-will-go???

Now you know my love for a special pickers barn on Little Conestoga Road, right? Well Kristin and Phil are having an extra FUN and FABULOUS sale this weekend!

They have raided Santa’s vintage workshop and in addition to all the normal fun stuff, there is vintage holiday everything. They are open ALL weekend this weekend November 23rd, 24th, 25th!

Here is the announcement:

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!  Just a little note to those of you who will be staying close to home this weekend….. the barn will be open this FRI SAT AND SUN from 10-4.  We are going to be kicking off the holiday season with our annual vintage holiday barn sale.
The barn is bursting at the seams with all our great items along  with a whole lot of vintage holiday mixed in! Our vintage holiday items include trees, ornaments, and other vintage holiday items.    
In addition we also have great new furniture, household items, toys, collectibles, Hess Trucks, Depression Glass, along with tons of other goodies!!  Everything is priced to sell……… come stop by, say HI, and find a treasure or two!!  Hope to see you then!
Smithfield Barn   425 Little Conestoga Road
Now I happened to see a small fraction of the cool ornaments and holiday stuff a couple of weeks ago.  This is my favorite barn.  These people are all about the deal and I never walk away feeling I paid too much for anything.

Bring a small flash light with you.



want to help jersey post sandy? here is how

Jersey Strong on Veteran’s Day even after Sandy. #njsandy Photo comes from Anne Marie Gercke whose family got back into their LBI community to find this family home was too badly flooded to save.

Hi, I am about to post a giant list of who needs what in New Jersey post-Sandy.  A lot of this is focused on North Jersey, but there are some South Jersey places mixed in.

The list came to me from a friend who is a writer in North Jersey and who was affected by the storm. She got the list via Jersey Shore Hurricane News on Facebook.  If you need to contact Jersey Shore Hurricane News e-mail jerseyshorehurricanenews@ or visit their page on Facebook for a number that accepts texts.

I am posting this here hoping it reaches people who want to help, but don’t know how. The holidays are upon us, so if local business owners exist who can offer to defray shipping costs for people in the event they want to ship goods to any of these locations, I hope you will pay it forward and step up and contact local media, etc to do so. I have to be honest, some I contacted declined regretfully because the economy is so bad for so many, they just can’t afford it.

For those of you I have seen holding fundraisers and food drives for Sandy victims, I hope this list will help you.


I keep thinking of how hard this also must be on the children of New Jersey affected by this, so if you contact any of these people to donate, find out what the kids need.  After all, Christmas and Hannukkah are coming in addition to Thanksgiving next week. I think New Jersey needs an Operation Santa Claus for kids and families this Christmas in New Jersey, only I do not know how to make it happen.  I hope some who read this post will know how to make it happen and CAN and DO make it happen.


And do not send as a “donation” the garbage you can’t give away in your house.  That includes dirty clothes – as incredulous as you might be at the suggestion, it is actually happening.  And having helped run a charitable donation drive a few years ago that actually earned me and others a congressional commendation from Jim Gerlach, I can tell you how awkward it is to be collecting for people in need and you have people donating things that are unusable and then you have to in essence pay to dispose of someone else’s trash. I am sorry if that sounds harsh, but please follow the rule of thumb that it be something you personally could use if the tables were turned. The Asbury Park Press also seems to be very helpful in guiding people onto how to help.

Another thing, there is a whole population that is displaced in parts of New Jersey that you are not hearing about in the news.  Those who qualify as special classes and may be disadvantaged emotionally, mentally, and/or physically.  A lot of these people not only depend on public assistance, but live in subsidized housing on and individual as well as in groups.

I also noticed that finally someone in New Jersey government woke up and realized that mothballed Fort Monmouth could indeed be re-opened to provide some interim housing to homeless New Jersey residents post-Sandy.

Fort Monmouth to house hundreds of evacuees

 10:23 PM, Nov. 12, 2012

New Jersey officials were readying a shuttered military base to temporarily house residents displaced by Superstorm Sandy….Fort Monmouth will be taken out of mothballs and could house 400 to 600 families. Community Affairs Commissioner Richard Constable said families could begin moving in by month’s end.

Hopefully Fort Monmouth won’t become Katrina’s trailer issue and they just get it done.

Anyway, hope this post helps. I know it is a crappy economy and many are suffering, but these people in a lot of cases have lost everything. Pay it forward.  If you can’t afford to help, or have nothing to donate, pass the information along to someone who can.