Glendale Avenue, known as “Clausdale” for the month of December, is a riotous scene of gigantic inflated Santas, best viewed after dusk when all the cheery Santas are lit up.
Photo: Marisa Romano
By Marisa Romano
Inspired by Santa’s magic and the Christmas spirit, Laurin, Tara and Natalia, the three Glendale Elves, have organized their neighbours and transformed their little corner of the Glebe into Clausdale, the Glebe version of Toronto’s Kringlewood (Inglewood Drive).
The initiative launched last December for the joy of almost two dozen children who live on Glendale Avenue has seen 18 neighbours displaying lit-up inflatable Santas on their front lawns. The gigantic Santa on Laurin’s front yard at the dead end of the street has been a hit with school children on their way to Glebe Memorial Park and the many families who stopped by to have their photos taken. “It got to be so busy one day that Laurin’s daughter handed out Christmas cookies to people that stopped by,” says Tara.
The Clausdale tradition is now here to stay. One family who moved away earlier this year left behind their Santa for the new owner. “Perhaps we should have a Claus Clause in all future home sale contracts,” the three Elves wonder. “Clausdale is a fun way to build community and spirit on Glendale Avenue and throughout the neighbourhood.”
Clausdale is on for all of December. The gigantic Santa is inflated 24/7, but the best viewing is after dusk when all the cheery Santas are inflated and lit up.
The origin of Santa can be traced back to the third century and bishop Nicholas of the small Roman city of Myra, located in today’s Turkey. Nicholas was known for his generosity, kindness and children-saving miracles. In the centuries since, he became a legendary gift-giving figure, a protector of children venerated throughout Europe as a saint. His commemorative day on the Catholic calendar is December 6.
In the Netherlands, he is known as Sinterklaas, the serious, old, bearded man in a red bishop’s cloak and pointed miter who brings gifts to children on December 5, St. Nicholas’ Eve. And it was Dutch immigrants, the founders of New Amsterdam – now known as New York City – who brought Sinterklaas to the New World where he became known as Santa Claus.
“The right jolly old elf” in red suit, white beard and round belly that brings gifts on Christmas was first described by Clement Clark Moore in the 1823 poem, “Twas the Night before Christmas.” He was then first illustrated by the American cartoonist Thomas Nast a few years after and was finally made popular worldwide by an advertising campaign by Coca-Cola about a century later.
All of us who have been following the tradition since a young age know that Santa is busy these days getting organized for the big Christmas delivery: presents are being sorted and boxed, world city maps updated, and the famous list of recipients checked and re-checked. On this side of the deal, Christmas trees are lit up, parents are busy baking and children are on their best behaviour – most of the time. I often wondered in childhood if the bounty found under the tree on Christmas Day depended also on the kind of cookies left for Santa the night before. So, just in case this is how it works, here is a recipe that has been successful in bringing about the best presents in at least one household.
Gluten-free chocolate-mint-crinkle cookies
These addictive cookies combine the decadent taste of chocolate with the oh-so-Christmassy peppermint taste of sugarcane. The almond flour allows for a confection that can be enjoyed by all, including gluten-sensitive people.
8oz semisweet chocolate chip
2 tbsp butter
1 ¼ cups almond flour
¼ tsp salt
1/3 cup white sugar
1 tsp peppermint extract
Melt chocolate chips and butter in a double boiler. Add the almond flour and mix well.
In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, sugar and mint extract. To this mixture add the chocolate chips and almond blend and mix until well combined. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours. Once cold and dense, shape the dough into small balls (about 1.5 inch diameter) and roll them in icing sugar. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper and place the balls 2 inches apart. Bake at 350 F for about 12 minutes. Cool on a rack and store in air-tight containers.
Marisa Romano is a foodie and scientist with a sense of adventure and fun, and appreciates interesting and nutritious foods.