Can you believe Christmas is right around the corner? The history lover in me relishes the opportunity to look back through the decades at special Christmas traditions. In writing A Roosevelt Smile, I divulged in reading memoirs and hearing about what made the holidays magical in the Roosevelt household, and I wanted to share five of my favorites with you!
1. Beautiful Gifts for All
As the matriarch of Springwood, Sara Delano Roosevelt relished in running the estate as her husband did, even if it had become financially unprofitable through the decades. Each Christmas, she prepared gifts for "her people," a term she endearingly referred to the estate workers by. She'd personally prepare their gifts, wrapping them in striped paper and adorning small candies to the top. In A Roosevelt Smile, you'll get to see my great-grandmother Frances receive one of these heartfelt packages!
2. The finest sliced Turkey
While Franklin studied at Groton, he learned the fine art of turkey carving. The goal was to slice turkey so thinly that opaque light could be seen through each piece. When his oldest son learned the same technique at Groton, carving the turkeys became a competition, though both contestants lamented requests for seconds before firsts were served.
3. Gift Closets Galore
Eleanor Roosevelt had a present room on the third floor of the White House, a windowless space with lots of shelves and a table for wrapping. She shopped for gifts from her large family year round, popping into stores after appointments to look for the perfect present.
4. Overfilled Stockings
Christmas in The White House was exceptionally exciting for the Roosevelt grandchildren. In 1936, Curtis shared the content of his Christmas stocking, from Santa, of course! The stockings were so stuffed they couldn't hang from the mantel, and the children had to wait for everyone to be present to dive in! Curtis's stocking included mittens, socks, handkerchiefs, and a toothbrush, along with 3-4 English-made lead soldiers. At the bottom of the stocking were an exotic orange and a $5 bill- a small fortune to stuff a piggy bank with!
5. A Christmas Carol
Christmas Eve wouldn't be complete without FRD's fireside rendition of A Christmas Carol. According to his children, he'd ham up the character's voices, even removing a faux front tooth to gain a bit of a whistle in Tiny Tim's voice!
And, for a quick bonus:
The Springwood and White House Christmas trees were lit with beautiful candles throughout the pine branches. After being rendered paralyzed, this triggered one of FDR's deepest fears- being stranded in a burning building so ample buckets of water and sand were present, and the candles were extinguished quickly!
Wishing you and yours a beautiful holiday!
P.S.- I can't wait to share A Roosevelt Smile with you in the coming New Year! Subscribers will get access to ARC copies and the best deal around. Make sure you're on that list!
is a writer & tired homeschooling mom of five.