According to the Pew Research Center, 1 in 5 U.S. adults were raised in an interfaith family. While that doesn’t necessarily mean a Christian/Jewish upbringing, it is the most common mix…which makes me wonder why there aren’t more books that explore this dynamic.

Well, Janie Emaus has a sweet (and savory) picture book for those families! Introducing LATKES FOR SANTA CLAUS!

Janie, what was your inspiration for this story? 

I grew up in a Jewish family and celebrated my first Christmas after marrying my husband. When our daughter was born, we had a Christmas Tree and a Menorah. As she grew up, I wondered if it was ever confusing for her. I looked for books with characters she could relate to and not finding any that were written in a fun, entertaining way, I decided to write my own. And because there weren’t any books, I thought, this would sell in a heartbeat! Wrong. Over two decades of heartbeats passed before the book sold.

Wow, that is an epic level of perseverance! What kept you going?

I’m always writing something. I would put the story away for months at a time and concentrate on another project. I sold a YA romance, Mercury in Retro Love, to a small press, which has since gone out of business and I have the rights back. I started blogging and writing for various websites. Along the way, I won an honorary mention in the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop competition. I had several agents and am actually querying again with my women’s fiction. I’ve learned not to take rejection personally, which is difficult at times. Because as writers we pour our heart and soul onto the page.

Yes, you took your family’s experience and poured it into this book. I know many families who celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah. What was one of your family’s favorite holiday traditions?

Our favorite family tradition is getting together and making latkes! The women get together and chop, peel, fry, gossip, drink and laugh. We usually make them a few days before our Hanukkah dinner. Of course, this year will be a much smaller event. And yes, I’ve made latkes for Santa Claus, but he ate them with us at the dinner table and not on his sleigh!

Well, I’m known to prefer salty over sweet, so if I were Santa, I’d love to get a latke! (I mean, how many cookies could he possibly eat?)

Thanks for sharing your story of perseverance, Janie!

Blog readers, leave a comment below to enter the book giveaway.

One random commenter will win a copy of LATKES FOR SANTA CLAUS.

Good luck!

Janie Emaus’s debut picture book, Latkes for Santa Claus, was released October 13th. She is also the author of the young adult novel, Mercury in Retro Love. Her essays and short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies and websites. In 2016 she won honorary mention in the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop Competition. To learn more about Janie, visit her website at and follow her blog at