In Search of a real Christmas Story

When I married a Midwesterner, I inherited a different series of Christmas traditions than my Irish ones. While my brother and I were waiting in line before the altar with our hands open to receive Holy Communion, my husband, as the last of seven brothers, would join the end of a line of siblings to receive a shiny ornament carefully polished by his father before hanging it on their Christmas tree. I mean, how cute. One of his favorite holiday films, A Christmas Story, was not one I knew until coming to the States but it was set in a fictional Indiana town on a street just like the one he grew up on.

The heart of a Mid Westerner's Christmas

The heart of a Midwestern Christmas

This required further investigation. So here’s what I know, setting out–knowledge based entirely on childhood Christmas TV, mind you: Clark Griswold lights up his Chicago mansion like an Indian restaurant as part of his search for a “good old-fashioned family Christmas.” All Steve Martin’s character in Planes, Trains and Automobiles wants is to arrive in Chicago in time for the holidays. Interesting. And the mansion in which Kevin McCallister rattles about rigging booby traps for robbers in Home Alone is in Cleveland, Ohio…





Chicago lights display

Chicago lights display

That’s evidence enough for me. Clearly the heartland does Christmas best, so that’s where I need to be.

Wanna come on a road trip?IMG_1032IMG_1057IMG_1072IMG_1252IMG_1209IMG_1126IMG_1127IMG_1128

Of course, religion plays a part in many Midwestern Christmases…IMG_1015IMG_1058IMG_1255IMG_1272IMG_1253And Midwestern sheep suffer as much in cold weather as Irish ones.IMG_1234IMG_1235IMG_1217Deck the halls on grand scale!IMG_1212IMG_1200No two snowflakes ever look the same…


Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree...

Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree…

IMG_1124IMG_1071IMG_1028Celebrating industry, simple values, the American Dream…IMG_1014IMG_1089IMG_1142IMG_1150IMG_1244IMG_1246IMG_1247As a native New Yorker I couldn’t help but notice the service was more attentive in the Midwest. And always with a smile–if not a little something more…IMG_1281IMG_1167IMG_1082IMG_1119IMG_1277IMG_1282IMG_1210IMG_1085IMG_1229I drank Buckeye and ate Walleye and arrived at LaGuardia with a clearer idea of what Clark Griswold was misguidedly searching for.

Heres to an old-fashioned Christmas like the ones we grew up with. Wherever we grew up…IMG_1284IMG_1310Don’t forget my fashionable novel is available to fill every old-fashioned Christmas stocking. Just add an orange!


  1. I love the Mid West, your road trip really made me feel nostalgia for my times spent there. But talk about cold… I have never known wind cut through a cashmere coat like it does when funnelled down Chicago’s Michigan Avenue in December. Happy Christmas, Jackie, Francesca’s out tomorrow…

  2. Thank you, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I liked Silk for the Feed Dogs. Jackpot draw? What’s that?

  3. Christmas stockings! 🙂

  4. As I’ve never been to this part of the world (had to google Toledo) it does look a bit like a film; thanks for the road trip, I had a lovely time! It seems that Belgium is the only country in this hemisphere that it hasn’t snowed yet, I mean even in Rome they had some snow!

    • You’ll get your share yet, don’t worry. I’m sure your city will be lovely under white. I’m flashing on a mental picture of Antwerp (which I know is not your city) under a blanket of snow. The film ‘In Bruges’ also made us want to visit that city too. You have a wealth of pretty in Belgium and I just polished off a birthday box of Godiva choccies 🙂 All good!

  5. I saw the Christmas Story last year first time when visiting family in the US. I laughed so hard! And they gave me the leg lamp as a Christmas bauble. Too funny 😉
    Happy Holidays to you! 🙂

  6. Merry Christmas to you and yours from a Midwestern born and raised dievca! I found your photos very soothing and I remember that Toledo,OH had some great radio stations whenever we passed by going to visit family in PA. (We were about 5+ hours west of Toledo). I used to be a regular at Midnight Mass — but have since stepped away. Oh Dear, Catholic Guilt.

    Switching topics… you know that really sexy outfit in your closet that you are not sure you want to wear?
    I triple-dog dare ya!

    • So that’s the origins of dievca… Don’t go entertaining none of that Catholic guilt. Life’s too short 🙂 By the way, I wore the outfit to cook pancakes this morning 🙂 Happy holiday!

  7. Have been trying to recreate my Italian Christmas for the last 18 years – having married into a Jewish family hasn’t helped. Also been unable to find twenty loud people to come to my lunch, willing to sit and eat for 6 hours! Merry Christmas!

  8. I remember Italian Christmases and they are truly something else! We had a bunch of Jewish friends at Thanksgiving and they’re not exactly demure either…especially when you break out the after-dinner games! Happy holidays! 🙂

  9. Right girl..when you get back to NY google, book and go to ‘La Soiree’ and think of me! I was so hoping they were coming back to the UK this winter but no! And I am of my best nights out EVER!! (Just don’t sit in the front!) xxxxxxx

  10. What a wonderful road trip…I’ve never been to Ohio but now I want to go. But maybe not for Christmas. It’s just too nice being tucked into bed and looking out at the cold and the silvery moon and the lights…no, I like being home almost as much as I like seeing your photos of Christmas in Toledo and NYC. And in London! Thanks Kate, for the great posts too!

  11. Bruges is like a postcard, literally, beauty everywhere! Covered in snow, even more so. After a few visits I’d OD’d so now I’m taking a break. Fortunately one can never OD on choccies. Thinking of delicious stuff, I just finished reading your book. Had such a wonderful time I could feel my kindle heating up but I refused to switch off. I had to have an e-book cause why wait for the mail if one could have in on the spot? I was hooked right from the start, but when I reached the House of Adriani chapter the kindle was set on fire! A jolly good work Jackie, I enjoyed it immensely. Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: