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Twas a Picture Perfect Christmas in Cape May – A Holiday Pictorial

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
while visions of sugar plums danced in their heads.
And Mama in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

Stroll with us through the town of Cape May all dressed up in her holiday finest.

Around the Town

When out on the roof there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
tore open the shutter, and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
gave the lustre of midday to objects below,
when, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
but a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer.

And how would St. Nicholas find us here in Victorian Cape May unless we dressed out houses with greenery, and cheery red bows? But never fear, as night falls the a twinkling of the lights on the houses provide a perfect landing spot for the miniature sleigh and its eight tiny reindeer.

Christmas Reflections

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles, his coursers they came,
and he whistled and shouted and called them by name:

“Now Dasher! Now Dancer!
Now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid!
On, Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch!
To the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away!
Dash away all!”

At Christmas time all the shopkeepers in town adorn their windows with Christmas finery in the hopes of seeing shoppers, friends and relations stop by for some h0liday cheer on Hospitality Night.

Christmas Twilight on the Mall

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
when they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky
so up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
with the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
the prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head and was turning around,
down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

A full moon, the stars and the decorative lights on the Washington Street Mall are sure to light the way for Santa’s sleigh.  What’s that you say, “Only a first quarter moon Christmas Eve?” No matter, Santa will find his way.

Cookie Exchange

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
and he looked like a peddler just opening his pack

The whole community looks forward to the Great American Cookie Excvhange held search December by the Center for Community Arts at the Cape May City Elementary School. Kids and parents bring cookies, helpers make cookies in the school kitchen, other kids learn how to make cookies. And all the cookies are displayed on big tables filled with cookies of all kinds, all shapes, all sizes. At the other end of the auditorium, more helpers sew away, busy making colorful Christmas hats to wear throughout the holiday season. And right above the sewing helpers is Santa himself, listening to each young child’s Christmas list.

Designer Show House

His eyes–how they twinkled! His dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
and the beard on his chin was as white as the snow.
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
that shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.

Even the most sophisticated of holiday revelers adorn their homes for the season. This year’s Designer Show House was the Carpenter Cottage at 511 Franklin Street. It was originally one of two lots sold by the Corgie family to Aaron and Elizabeth Garretson in 1853. The house was thought to have been built shortly thereafter. The newly renovated house is now owned by Susan Carpenter Priester and her family and will be open to the public through the New Year weekend.

Physick Estate Tree Lighting

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
and I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself.
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.


Each year friends and visitors alike gather at the Emlen Physick Estate (operated by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Art – MAC) for the tree lighting, a visit from Santa Claus, and a tour of the 1879 estate. Surely is one has any chance at all at spotting St. Nick on Christmas Eve, this is the place one would perch.

Physick Estate Christmas

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
and filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
and giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.

No one knew how to do Christmas like the Victorians – after all, they had Charles Dickens, among others,  to guide them. Americans added their special touches – like store bought ornaments and our special thanks to the very imaginative Clement C. Moore for writing Twas the Night Before Christmas. The Physick Estate is bustling with activity at holiday time.

Rotary Park Tree Lighting

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

Clement C. Moore – Twas the Night Before Christmas