disappearing childhood

As the holiday season thrusts itself on Portland, I fondly remember a family tradition from my childhood. Once upon a time, dear reader, there was this fantastic department store called Frederick & Nelson. A store from a different age, before Meier and Frank was a May company store, before Nordstrom dominated the Portland department store scene. Every year, Frederick & Nelson hosted a Cinnamon Bear Breakfast as part of their Christmas season. My siblings and I, dressed in our holiday best, would follow our parents to the great dining hall for breakfast and a visit from Santa and the Cinnamon Bear. Each child was given a Cinnamon Bear cookie from CB; I treasured that treat, trying ever-so-carefully not to break it before returning home.

Now that I think about it, the Cinnamon Bear was most likely something created by the folks at F & N; I’ve never heard of it in any other context. And I do realize that my beloved Cinnamon Bear was just some guy in a costume and that there really isn’t a Santa Claus. Moreover, the last of the CB breakfasts we attended wasn’t that great, more the fault of my increasingly dysfunctional family than ol’ CB. But I can still feel the little kid anticipation, waiting for my holiday heroes to make their appearance. What has replaced this in our world? Is there such a simple joy left in our material-driven holidays? As I think about my holiday shopping, making sure that each person gets something of equal value, I miss my Cinnamon-Bear-breakfast innocence.

4 Comments so far

  1. dieselboi (unregistered) on November 4th, 2005 @ 10:18 pm

    i remember the cinnamon bear, but i am not sure if i met him. i remember a radio show that happened on AM during this time of year that featured the cinnamon bear. i remember frederick and nelson too, but not much.

    thanks for forcing a great memory to the surface.

  2. Aaron (unregistered) on November 4th, 2005 @ 10:52 pm

    The Cinnamon Bear character has been moved (sold?) to the Portland Spirit, who will be doing Cinnamon Bear cruises this Christmas!

    (No, I’m not involved, but a friend of mine is in the cast.)

  3. Lynne (unregistered) on November 19th, 2005 @ 11:19 am

    -Frederick & Nelson was only in Portland for a few years. They bought out the historic Lipman & Wolf Department Store who had the copyright to Portlands’ own special Christmas Bear, Paddy O’Cinnamon. We Portlanders were thrilled that F&N chose to continue the tradition.
    -Lipman sponsored the Cinnamon Bear radio program which originated Nov 29, 1937, and ran nightly for 15 min around 7pm starting after Thanksgiving, then Lipman/F&N had Paddy wander the store and sometimes stand outside at the entrance handing out the cinnamon cookies you remember, during certain times they had him sit like other stores did with Santa, also you could join Paddy at breakfast/brunch, briefly there was a comic strip in either the Oregonian or Oregon Journal in the early 50s.
    -Reading other sites talking about the Cinnamon Bear, I was delighted to find out that he also was shared in a few other states and in one region he was known as the Peppermint Bear.
    -Starting Nov 28,(05) at 7pm/pacific-time, John Tesh will be hosting the Cinnamon Bear series on K103 FM Radio. K103 is connected to the internet so any of you can listen to the program at ‘http://www.k103.com’. So come on and join Paddy, Jimmy and Judy Barton help track the Crazy Quilt Dragon who stole the Silver Star (tree topper).
    -Yes, the Portland Spirit will be offering several river cruises with an updated Paddy as the host (no more big lips). You can make reservations at https://www.portlandspirit.com/
    -I never understood why, when F&N left that no one else took up the copyright/license of our beloved Cinnamon Bear. Our love for him was almost as great as for Santa Claus.
    -I don’t have children but am absolutely thrilled that he is being brought back.

  4. Andrew (unregistered) on January 27th, 2006 @ 4:34 pm

    When I was a kid I was partial to the Cinnamon Bear and have pictures of me on his lap from the early ’80s at the Washington Square Frederick & Nelson’s. How fun! I remember the cookies too–they were delicious!

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