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Holiday Cheers

December 22, 2012

Sarah on the Radio

Yesterday, I went to the studios of Wisconsin Public Radio and interviewed with some producers from NPR in Washington D.C. for a segment on All Things Considered. I was so excited and nervous that the interview didn’t go anything like I had imagined or hoped. But hopefully they got enough useable content for their piece, which will air on Christmas Eve or Christmas day.

It all came about when I heard a request for stories about food that people eat on Christmas. “I have to do this!” I thought. Our family Christmas is steeped in all kinds of traditions, though not many of them involve food… unless you count a 7-layer taco dip. So I decided to write about the holiday drink that my family has been serving for 29 years. Here is the essay I submitted:

My Favorite Christmas … Drink

My favorite culinary Christmas tradition isn’t actually food… it’s a drink. Whenever the family gathered at our house for Christmas, the dinner was always different. But there was one thing you could count on. As the adults were sitting and chatting, my dad would bring out a tray of “Holiday Harveys.” It seems like we may be the only family who still knows of this drink, since Google came up surprisingly empty when I searched for “Holiday Harvey.” Not a single hit!

A Holiday Harvey is based on the “Harvey Wallbanger,” a drink made with orange juice, a shot of vodka, and a splash of Galliano liqueur on top. My mom found the recipe in a 1983 issue of Good Housekeeping, and we still have the clipping today. The Holiday Harvey uses Five Alive instead of orange juice for a brighter citrus taste. Though, the original recipe called for “Squeeze Six,” a citrus juice drink that no longer exists.

But more important than the drink itself were the tall, lime-green frosted Blendo tumblers that they were served in. Our whole family has a sentimental attachment to those green “Holiday Harvey” glasses. The tray my dad carried glowed like the northern lights. Unfortunately, over the years, their numbers diminished and we had to use other serving ware. But a Holiday Harvey never tastes quite as good, at least to us, as one served in a tall lime-green glass.

As a child, I was, of course, not allowed to partake. But as my cousins and siblings and I grew older, getting handed a Holiday Harvey of our own was like an initiation to adulthood. With time, as our family grew, we introduced this drink to significant others and spouses. While some were skeptical at first, everyone came to look forward to their Holiday Harvey at Christmas.

Holiday Harvey GlassesI remember one year my dad interrupted the conversation to ask what everyone wanted to drink. Perhaps he thought it was time to move on or that some people might want something else. But everyone looked at him with confused expressions on their faces. “Aren’t we having Holiday Harveys?!” And ten minutes later, the tray appeared and we haven’t questioned the tradition since.

Inspired by this assignment, I went on a search, and this time Google did not let me down. I was able to find the exact same vintage tumblers, and I can’t wait to surprise my family this year with a lime-green tray of Holiday Harveys.

Cheers and Merry Christmas!