Three weeks before Christmas, 1917 .

Dear Daddy

I hope you are lots Better.
you know it is only three weeks till christmas.
and you much (sic) hurry and come home.
We are going in swiming (sic) this morning.
We had such a good time in the pool.
We are making christmas presents now.
I am so glad I can knit.
I want santa claus to bring me a bicycle for christmas.

hugs and kisses,

love from
Nancy Reynolds
Mr. R.J. Reynolds and Nancy Susan Reynolds , 1919. Boris Bernhard Gordon, 1882 - 1976. Oil on canvas. Frame: 55 3/4 x 46 in. (141.6 x 116.8 cm) Canvas: 45 x 35 1/8 in. (114.3 x 89.2 cm). 1966.2.99.
Draperies were nearly arranged, the last of the furniture was slowly moved into position across the house, and the woodwork in R.J. Reynolds's study was getting its final touches. R.J. had just completed a lengthy hospital stay in Baltimore where Katharine was discouraged to write or visit. The Reynolds children had not seen their father for three months. And war raged on in Europe. This was Christmas 1917.

Despite it being one of the coldest Decembers on record for North Carolina, the Reynolds family enjoyed the warmth of each other's company at their new home at Reynolda, moving in just in time to celebrate Christmas. Everyone took part in the preparation at Reynolda weeks prior, including seven-year-old Nancy Reynolds who aided in making presents. And of course, a request for a bicycle from Santa Claus.

By early December 1917, Katharine and R.J. were reunited in Hot Springs, Virginia, where R.J.'s doctors advised he rest. The Reynolds children and parents were once again allowed to write each other, despite R.J.'s persistent heart trouble.
Katharine Reynolds writes to Mary on December 5: “I hope you are enjoying your pretty room. There is a deep snow here and Father and I go sleigh riding each day. Wish we were at home with you. Best love —"
Construction of Reynolda, c. 1916, Estate Archives. Present day Reynolda, 2016.
While Katharine tended to R.J. in Hot Springs, Reynolda was taking shape, just as she specified. One hundred Christmases later, the bungalow still provides the warmth and togetherness of the season to all families.