The synopsis of the story is below. Please scroll down to see “the background story” and personal information about the Gallagher family and how this project came to be…..and why it continues to be a holiday favorite read-aloud and listening tradition for families.
What is the Christmas on Lindbergh Mountain storybook about?
Christmas is coming! ‘Tis the season to be jolly! Yes, Yes, Yes!
Ho, Ho, Ho! What will Christmas be like if Santa Claus can’t make it to Lindbergh Mountain?
Kristen is worried that Santa will not be able to find her family’s old run-down cabin on Lindbergh Mountain. Her father told her that he read in the newspaper – The Lindbergh Mountain Gazette – that due to dangerous weather conditions, Santa would not be able to make it to Lindbergh Mountain. It would be absolutely impossible for Santa to come this year.
But, just the day before, Kristen overheard Santa Claus talking to Mrs. Claus.
Kristen had gone to see Santa at Feeney’s Department Store. She had to go back there because she had changed her mind about everything on her original Christmas list. On this Christmas Eve last-minute visit, she told Santa that she only wanted coal, even though she was a perfectly behaved little girl. She did not want any toys at all!
On her earlier visit, she had a long list of toys that she wanted for Christmas. Santa wondered why she just wanted lumps of coal. Santa was puzzled and curious about this unusual request.
And as Kristen got up from his lap, she heard him talking to Mrs. Claus. She distinctly heard Santa say something about giving her “The Secret of the Reindeer.”
When she awoke on Christmas morning, Kristen noticed a pile of fluffy reindeer fur, lying on the floor which was next to a note from Santa. And the fur seemed to have magical powers.
She couldn’t wait another minute to wake her mom and dad and her brother, Ryan. Kristen tapped the fluffy reindeer fur. The living room was aglow with the magic of Santa and his elves in his workshop.
Elves ran to and fro, sleigh bells rang, and bags of shiny coins, toys, food and coal for the old stove appeared. Christmas on Lindbergh Mountain was definitely the best ever!
What are the ages of the main characters?
Kristen is 9 and Ryan is 6. I have two other children, Robin and Katelyn who were ages 14 and 12 when I wrote Christmas on Lindbergh Mountain. John and I were 45-years-old at the time.
What is the time period of the story?
Christmas of 1996
How long have you been writing?
I began writing in 1989 when I was doing an at-home child care business to supplement my family’s income. My first book was Start Your Own At-Home Child Care Business which was published by Doubleday. I am the author of 14 books.
Would you like to share your age?
I am 65 years old.
What motivated you to write this book?
In 1996, my husband was helping our ninth-grade daughter Robin with a high school project, so I took the other three kids out to look at a Christmas display at Feeney’s Nursery in Feasterville, PA. This is Robin now – on the right side with her grandmother and Kristen.
On the drive home, I began to make up a story about a family, who loved their home on Holly Hill Road. However, their Dad no longer had a job, and they had to move to an unheated cabin on Lindbergh Mountain.
Why Lindbergh Mountain? We passed a road by that name, so I just made that location part of my fictional story. I passed another road called Chinquapin, so that become part of the story, too.
For a few days following that night, my daughter, Katelyn, age 12, and I added details to the story. We sat at the computer in our laundry room and typed the text. We created a “touch and feel” storybook which had a sensory approach for the young reader. It was a “amateurish-looking, home-made on the kitchen table” book. But our family loved it!
On the pages were a collection of things to do such as: touching a piece of rope, which held the door closed on the cabin, patting a piece of cotton that stood for Santa’s beard, and rubbing a piece of coal that was requested by Kristen to heat their home on Lindbergh Mountain.
We bought trinkets from the dollar stores, McCrory’s variety store and local thrift shops to construct interactive elements.
The two main characters were Kristen and Ryan, the names of my youngest children. Kristen was nine and Ryan was six. Kristen had just stopped believing in Santa Claus. We wanted to make sure that the fantasy continued for Ryan, so that he would continue to “believe in Santa.”
So as a family, we really got into making the story “real.”
We had the book typeset and printed 137 copies with a spiral binding. I selected a textured paper that was tan which gave it a vintage look. It took us an entire week to glue hundreds of the “touch and feel items” to the pages.
One day while the kids were in school, I borrowed my uncle’s Santa Claus outfit. So that I looked more realistic, I stuffed pillows under the red velvet suit. I asked my father to meet me at a local reindeer farm. He snapped a few pictures of Santa in action.That picture was featured on the cover of the 137 “home-made” books.
Inside the front cover of the book, there was a collage of photos of the four kids and our dog Cinnamon, as well as three color photos of Santa feeding the reindeer. Also included was a very “doctored and old looking map” that Santa had drawn for his reindeer to follow. It was yellowed, a tiny bit torn, and had a big smear to make it look like it was weathered on the journey from the North Pole to Lindbergh Mountain. It was my way of trying to make it appear authentic.
On the first page of the book, there were two photos of Kristen and Ryan, one of which showed them sitting on Santa’s lap from the previous year.
We used dollops of a white-out correction fluid to make the pages of the book look like snow had fallen. And for the pieces of coal glued to the pages were actually pebbles from our driveway, sprayed with black paint.
I bought an old fake fur coat from a thrift shop and we cut swatches of “reindeer fur.” I bought a variety of shiny ribbons, plastic ornaments and pointy icicle decorations.
(Twenty years later….after the original “touch and feel” book was made by the kids and me in 1996 – I “transformed” the home-made on the kitchen version into the above book available on Amazon as a print book and audio book.)
We sprayed copper pennies with gold paint. We cut lengths of rope into 4-inch pieces because in Christmas on Lindbergh Mountain, the reindeer pawed at the rope needed to keep the door of the cabin secured. We had cotton balls to signify Santa’s beard, and I bought buckles and fancy buttons that were the elves’ buttons. Of course, the big buckle was from Santa’s suit.
We also had jingle bells, small felt stockings, lollipops, tinsel, and little plastic bags filled with birdseed, Quaker Oats, and sugar which was our version of reindeer feed.
For Santa’s suit, we purchased velvet fabric from Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Store, to represent part of Santa’s suit.
Pine cones from the local park were sprayed gold to make them appear as though they were magically from the North Pole. And each book contained a large bell attached to a green ribbon which we called a reindeer bell.
I purchased green and red plaid tablecloths, cut them into swatches to simulate the Nutcracker throw blanket, which was mentioned in the story.
After a week of going full-speed ahead on the “Keep Christmas Real for Ryan Project,” and spending about $1000 on “Mom’s little project,” I wondered, what should we do with the books now – all 137 of them.
I thought that we could save a few books for our own holiday gift-giving. And then donate the rest to inmates at a local correctional facility, hoping that they would read the story to their children. Or perhaps, we could take them to a children’s hospital.
I sent a copy of Christmas on Lindbergh Mountain to CNN in New York City.
Upon receipt of our birdseed, coal, swatches of reindeer fur and the other goodies as well as our storybook, a producer responded and asked to join us on our visits. I guess they were curious as to why a family would do such a far-out project.
Only one problem, when I called the two places that we wanted to visit, we could not get permission. Why? Our books were not child-safe – so many little pieces that were potential choking hazards. And we found out that you can’t just call a prison and say,” Hi, my name is Patricia Gallagher and my kids, and I would like to come over and bring some gifts for the inmates to share with their kids.”
So, I gave most of them to the kids in the religious class that I taught at church as well as to Kristen’s fourth-grade classmates, cousins and neighbors.
Over the years, Ryan and I loved reading the book to each other. Although he is no longer my little six-year-old son and stands 6’6 inches, I thought that it would be great to resurrect the project and share it with a whole new generation of parents.
This was the note that I sent to CNN in 1996, along with Christmas on Lindbergh Mountain.
Note from Mom:
This is a family holiday project. My children and I made 137 storybooks and gift bags filled with Santa Clues to donate to children in hospitals and prisons, so that the inmates could have something to share with their children when they visited. We all contributed to writing the story, and glued in the photos, pictures and gathered the “Santa Clues.” “Santa Clues” are little items that Santa hides around the house for the children to discover in the morning. We had fun making the book and the “Santa Clues.”
The Gallagher Family
301 Holly Hill Road
Richboro, PA 18914 ((We no longer live at this address.)
Robin, Katelyn, Kristen and Ryan – ages 13, 12, 9 and 6.
PS: The photos on the reverse side of this letter are of my four children. The large photo is of me dressed as Santa at a reindeer farm in Warrington, PA.
I used Kristen and Ryan as the main characters, because I wrote a book in 1988 and named it Robin’s Play and Learn Book. It was named for my daughter, Robin. Katelyn had her claim to fame when she wrote a letter to the Oprah Winfrey Show and asked if our family could be guests on the show. (I had just written the book Raising Happy Kids on a Reasonable Budget.) It worked. They filmed a segment at our home in Pennsylvania, and they invited Katelyn and me to be guests on the show.
Where did you grow up?
King of Prussia, PA. I attended Villanova University and earned a degree in elementary education and graduate credits in early childhood education from Temple University and obtained an MBA from Saint Joseph’s University.
What community/town/city do you now live in or near?
Worcester, PA (a suburb of Philadelphia)
What are the four children doing now and how old are they?
My three daughters are social workers; ages 33, 32, 29 and my son who is 26, works as a manager for a major hotel chain.
What do you hope to accomplish with the audio book Christmas on Lindbergh Mountain – The Untold Story of Santa on Christmas Eve and The Gallagher Family Santa Clues Pack?
Our family loved the magic of Christmas. I want to share some of our family traditions and our special story. I hope that my project becomes a family classic story enjoyed by many families.
For the Christmas Season of 2016, “Christmas on Lindbergh Mountain – The Untold Story of Santa’s Magic on Christmas Eve” is available for FREE streaming so you can watch the video and listen to the magic of Christmas on Lindbergh Mountain.
Listen here for audio with pictures