Finding Santa.

Because it will never get old for me, and because maybe you’ll feel the same way, and because my daughter is exiting the Santa years, and because – this most of all – we could all always use a bit of love and magic, today I offer a repeat posting of Martha Brockenbrough’s great letter to her daughter, and to children (adults) everywhere:

Dear Lucy,

Thank you for your letter. You asked a very good question: “Are you Santa?”

I know you’ve wanted the answer to this question for a long time, and I’ve had to give it careful thought to know just what to say.

The answer is no. I am not Santa. There is no one Santa.

I am the person who fills your stockings with presents, though. I also choose and wrap the presents under the tree, the same way my mom did for me, and the same way her mom did for her. (And yes, Daddy helps, too.)

I imagine you will someday do this for your children, and I know you will love seeing them run down the stairs on Christmas morning. You will love seeing them sit under the tree, their small faces lit with Christmas lights.

This won’t make you Santa, though.

Santa is bigger than any person, and his work has gone on longer than any of us have lived. What he does is simple, but it is powerful. He teaches children how to have belief in something they can’t see or touch.

It’s a big job, and it’s an important one. Throughout your life, you will need this capacity to believe: in yourself, in your friends, in your talents and in your family. You’ll also need to believe in things you can’t measure or even hold in your hand. Here, I am talking about love, that great power that will light your life from the inside out, even during its darkest, coldest moments.

Santa is a teacher, and I have been his student, and now you know the secret of how he gets down all those chimneys on Christmas Eve: he has help from all the people whose hearts he’s filled with joy.

With full hearts, people like Daddy and me take our turns helping Santa do a job that would otherwise be impossible.

So, no. I am not Santa. Santa is love and magic and hope and happiness. I’m on his team, and now you are, too.

I love you and I always will.



Note: the original post that appeared on Martha Brockenbrough’s blog is gone, but here’s another link to the letter, along with a way to save it in your calendar if you’re so inclined.

Happy week.

Sock monkey child


Food | Week of December 22, 2014

Christmas tableI’m hosting Christmas brunch again this year, and again the attire will be pajamas, at my children’s request. Our menu varies a little bit year to year, but the basics are beef tenderloin (my favorite thing to make and a once or twice a year special treat), smoked ham, cheese grits, fresh fruit and green salad. I’m going to try this new recipe for an apple galette (yes, I know it’s not Thanksgiving).

Since I’m focused on Thursday’s brunch, dinner during the week will be simple and family friendly.

Turkey Sliders | Tomato Soup

It’s amazing how my people think dinner is special if it’s deli meat warmed in a skillet, topped with cheese and served inside special rolls (even Sister Schubert) instead of sandwich bread. Pair the sliders with this simple tomato soup, which is easily doubled and frozen for later.

Kielbasa with Onions & Apples | Spinach, Apple & Walnut Salad

Although Gourmet recommended serving this kielbasa with mashed potatoes, a lighter pairing (and better, in my book) is a spinach salad. I like using apples two different ways, one with the sausage and one with the salad, but you can eliminate from one or the other if it seems weird to you. Also, I despise Golden Delicious apples and will likely substitute Pink Lady.

Arucana LuluBaked Eggs

Like I always say, one day you’re actually going to try this and see why it’s a frequent flier in my kitchen. Serve with fresh fruit and buttered toast (cinnamon raisin bread, if you’re feeling fancy).

Spaghetti with Broccoli Rabe

This recipe adapts well to the addition of sausage, if a vegetarian dinner isn’t for you. Serve with leftover spinach salad or make a light Bibb lettuce one with simple lemon/olive oil dressing.

Mustard-Roasted Fish| Green Beans

Any firm white fish will work for this recipe from Ina Garten, so use what’s fresh at the market. Pair with steamed green beans and some warm bread. If you need something heartier, roasted potatoes should do the trick.


  1. Ah, you curate quite a blog here. From your beautiful writing to gems like this. Read this when it first went around, and I’ve framed all our Santa conversations with it in mind. Santa is magic, he has more helpers than I could count, and those helpers get a bit of his magic during the holidays to bring joy to others. I just haven’t mentioned that I’m one of the helpers, too. 😉


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