Once upon a time, Santa was a wee little guy who couldn’t even look the most petite women in the eye. He could fit in a stocking, and could barely reach the fireplace mantle. The towering volunteer Santas showing up on our fire engines, and the giants that are employed as Old St. Nick in our local malls have broken with tradition – Santa is an elf, people.
It’s well known that many of our Christmas traditions having to do with Santa were invented by Clement C. Moore whose poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (a.k.a. “The Night Before Christmas) dictated many of our current rituals. Thomas Nast was an illustrator in the late 1800’s who came to fame by drawing political cartoons – in fact, he is also responsible for creating the image associated with Uncle Sam. Nast played the greatest role in creating the image of Santa that we recognize today.
Nast’s employer, Harpers Magazine, asked him to compile his collection of Christmas drawings, and it’s here that the truth is exposed:
Just doing my part to set the record straight.
BREAKFAST FOR A TIRED MOTHER
You may do this all by yourself—and surprise Mother.
First get out the tray. Then a plate. You’ll need cup and saucer, knife, fork and spoon. Don’t forget the salt and pepper. Does Mother use cream and sugar? Oh, yes, -- a napkin.
Decorate it with a sprig of evergreen. Maybe a small tree ornament? Whatever you think will make it pretty for Mother.
Does she like juice? Orane, tomato, grapefruit, tangerine, prune, apple – what do you have on hand? Cranberry juice mixed with pineapple jusice tasts good and it looks gay and Christmasy.
Put water on to boil for tea or instant coffee.
Eggs must be scrabmled eggsactly to taste good. Break 2 eggs into bowl. Beat with fork. Add 2 tablespoons rich cream. Beat again. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in frying pan. Pour in eggs. Stir over low heat. Do they look thick? They’re done.
From A Child's Christmas Cookbook with recipes by Betty Chancellor, Illustrations by Thomas Nast.