Musica pour vous. It’s story time Girlfriends, a Christmas Eve memory from a long time ago. You might need tea.  I’ll wait. Get your favorite cup.  Ready?  OK, here we go:

As many of you know (and some may not), I’m the oldest of eight children; after me there were four boys and then three girls. I got a new baby almost every two years for the whole time I lived at home which I thought was just wonderful of my parents to supply me with an unending supply of new Betsy Wetsy type dolls to dress and play with. The picture below is only missing our last baby girl, but she was on her way!  Christmas was hugely exciting at our house~

with visits to Santa Claus, cookies baking, parents whispering and (quite rudely) talking in arf and arfy at the dinner table (the secret-code language my mom learned from the funny papers wen she was a kid), odd-shaped boxes appearing on the high shelves in the closets (oh yes, we children notice things like that), school and church events, making gifts for my family at Girl Scouts (construction-paper crowns and oranges-studded-with-cloves pomanders), decorating the tree, going caroling in the cold air bundled up under Christmas lights, hanging the soon-to-be-filled to the brim stockings by the fireplace . . . the anticipation was excruciating ~ maybe not for everyone, but definitely for me ~ waiting for Christmas morning was almost unbearable and Christmas Eve itself put me very close to the breaking point. Especially when my grandma showed up with her car filled with gifts, wrapped in glittering stripes and stars with Santas and snowmen, red and green, little and big, fat and skinny, shiny with ribbons and bows, and so many secrets.  Discussions with my dad at the dinner table as he innocently wondered out loud about where Santa might be at the moment, or what he might do if he got stuck in our chimney did not lessen the delirium.  I learned subconsciously from him and tried to heighten the hysteria in my siblings to the level I felt by running around outside the house shaking jingle bells at the windows. “Did you hear that?  He’s out there!!!!!” I said to my wide-eyed victims. Frenzy was the name of the game.  I almost always cried. What we kids needed before bed on Christmas Eve was bourbon on the rocks but drinking alcohol for children was frowned upon in our family.  Instead they gave us hot chocolate with miniature marshmallows to help us sleep.  Milk Schmilk. We were far beyond help. Two of my brothers, in their cowboy flannel jammies slept sitting up under a blanket in the same green-flowered barkcloth covered chair in their bedroom on Christmas Eve with Nipper our dog between them.  We have pictures.  Made perfect sense to me. Somehow this put them closer to the action. Lucky them.

My grandma slept with me on Christmas Eve. This was extremely inconvenient as you can imagine. For as much as I loved her, which was to the moon and back, I had only one thing on my mind between 4 and 6 am on Christmas morning and that was getting out of that bed and in to the living room to see what Santa had brought.  But in order to do it I had to get past her.  Sharp as a tack and quick as a bunny she was, in her prime and ready for action, it was not going to be easy.

Early one Christmas morning, eyes wide open in the dark bedroom, listening to the house asleep and creaking, I decided I would really try this time.  I would be scientific and patient.  I would not hurry childishly.  I would think calmly.  It felt like it took hours. Inching my way and barely breathing, I rolled onto my belly in what I thought was a “common sleep pattern of activity” and waited. Nothing. No response.  She was asleep, purring deeply.  I continued.  First a flannel-covered leg over the side of the bed, dangling barefoot in the air, then an arm, then the tiniest movements to get the middle of my body out ~ it was going extremely well, I was doing it!  The only thing I could hear was my heart beating.  All the bedrooms of our geranium-colored house were filled with sleeping souls and every house in our neighborhood was dark, I was the only one awake in the world. Just me and Santa and our date with destiny. I could do this.  Extra carefully I slid out another leg thereby dragging myself over the edge of the bed, nose and lips smooshing against sheets as I went.  This put me on the floor, on my knees and one hand, next to the bed, with only one arm to bring across the sheets to freedom. I had it made in the shade.  Slowly I began to pull my arm toward me and then, after all that, at the last possible moment, my grandma, quick as a jack-in-the-box lighting bolt with a hand on the end of it, reached out, grabbed my arm and said in a shockingly low and unexpected voice, “Where do you think you’re going?”

Yeeeeiiiikkkkss.  She scared me to death.  And that was the end of that. Foiled again. My grandma was awake even when she was asleep, she could see through eyelids. I didn’t even try to beg my way out.  It was pure dark in the room with only a sliver of moon peeping through the windows as I crawled back into bed returned to my lonely cell KNOWING that Santa magic had gone on in the living room such a very few steps away across the wool carpet of many colors but I could not get to it.  Woe was me.  She wanted me to wait for dawn and not wake my uncles who were sleeping on the couches.  Fortunately my little brothers and sisters were home free, no Grandma in their beds, and it wasn’t long till the tip-toe of little muk luks was heard scurrying down the hall and I was set free!  Free at Last. Let the party begin! And yes, we did live happily ever after, at least until the next Christmas Eve which I didn’t really have to worry about because I knew it  would take forever to arrive.

Merry Christmas Girlfriends, tell someone a Christmas story tonight.  Little ones love it but so do big ones.  May visions of sugarplums dance in your heads this night of nights.  We’ll do our drawing on the 26th (I’m still wrapping the consolation prizes, that’s a whole lotta ribbon!) … If you haven’t signed up for our Christmas Giveaway, scroll down to read further and join the fun.  

My prayer for you:

Ah friends, dear friends, as years go on and heads get gray, how fast the guests do go.  Touch hands, touch hands, with those that stay ~ strong hands to weak, old hands to young, around the Christmas board touch hands.  ♥ We are so lucky to have each other ♥

Starlight, star bright, first star I see tonight . . .

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  1. Kathy in Illinois says:

    Merry Christmas, Susan!
    God bless, Kathy in Illinois

  2. Jeanette says:

    I love that story with your Grandmother, cracks me up!!!

    Wishing you, Joe and the kitties the Merriest Christmas possible. May all the wondrous delights of this magical season land upon your doorstep and may every happiness, love, joy and enchantment be yours always!

    Fleecy hugs and mistletoe love to you!!!

    By the way, I saw on Twitter that Iris is now over the Rainbow Bridge and running amongst the angels…please let her parents know my heart is with them and you too as the pawprints they’ve left on our hearts are there forever. Squishy Hugs a’ plenty!

  3. Patty in Redlands says:

    My heart and head are full of those precious memories of Christmas past. I am also the oldest of eight and remember the endless waiting, the near hysteria, the presents that spilled out of the room in abundance (small room, I think). And now we give those memories to children and grandchildren. Lucky us! Your words and recipes and art have made that memory giving more lovely and homey, so thank you, Santa’s helper Susan! Merry Christmas to you, Joe, and to all of the Girlfriends! XO

  4. Fran says:

    Loved your story -I am the oldest of 5 and can relate to every word! Have a very MERRY CHRISTMAS, dear Susan. I always look forward to reading your blogs and your book was absolutely the best! Where to next year??

  5. Pam says:

    Lovely post, as always. I hope you and Joe have a wonderful Christmas. Thank you for brightening up 2013 with all of your stories and photos and I look forward to 2014. <3


    simply wonderful. I too slept with my Grandmother on several Christmas eves, she slept with a transistor radio in her ear which even if I wanted to sleep I couldn’t. We are of the same generation and your pictures and stories are so like my own. Thank you for telling my story too. I’ve enjoyed getting to hear and see your adventures so much. They bring happiness for all the craziness going around us . MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL

  7. Elizabeth Healy says:

    Merry Merry Merry Christmas to you! And thank you for sharing the wonderful memories.!!!!!!

  8. LynnMarie says:

    Thanks for this Christmas Eve day post. I am sooo in love with the season this year. Possibly because I am on a work hiatus this year and am just reveling in the wonder of it all. Merry Christmas, Susan!

  9. Sharon says:

    Merry Christmas to you and your family—– kitties too !

  10. Oh, Susan. I do believe we are kindred spirits… Merriest of Merry Christmas’s, Susan and Joe! …and girlfriends!

  11. Janet in Rochester says:

    Great story, well-told. And to EVERYONE here – at the bestest blog ever [as the Fives would say], a very blessed and joyful Christmas. Dickens said it first and Dickens said it better – but God bless us, everyone! xoxo

  12. Janet in Rochester says:

    PS – Santa is looking suspiciously like Joseph B… ??? :>)

  13. jane townsend says:

    A lovely story. As we’re 5 hours ahead of you, we (i.e.the grandchildren) are at that point – nearly time for bed – I wonder how long that’s going to take ?!
    Have a great Christmas.

  14. Laurie Walt says:

    Merry Christmas girlfriend! I can almost hear your Grandmas low growl:-) My Grandma was so sweet, but when she meant business I knew it! Love to all the girlfriends!

  15. Sharon in Florida says:

    Hi Susan, I loved the Christmas story with your Grandma – I can just picture it in my mind with you trying slowly, slowly to slither out of your bed! haha! Boy, your Grandma was really on top of things and able to catch you just in time before you were able to make your escape! And I LOVE the picture of you and all your brothers and sisters (except the last baby). Some wonderful happy memories for you. Thanks for sharing all these happy times with us Susan. I hope you and Joe and kitties have a wonderful Christmas!! Hugs from me, Sharon xxoo

  16. Michele, Woodstock, Vt. says:

    Christmas Eve Greetings!

    How much fun it was to find your Christmas note just a few minutes ago Susan! Am trying to conquer a new camera and reading the online booklet has nearly made me lose my mind, soooooooooo – your note was just the perfect excuse I had to sit back and relax and enjoy your Christmas memories.
    Have a cozy and beautiful Christmas with Joe and the “little ones.”
    All the best for a healthy New Year!

  17. martha says:

    There MUST be a Grandma training school that teaches Grannies to see through their eyes and know when we are up… Mine was the same! LOL

    Merry Christmas!

  18. Merry Christmas dear Susan and Joe and kitties… I love you!… xoxo Julie Marie

  19. deezie says:

    Oh Susan that was the best story ever!!!
    Loved every word of it
    have a merry christmas sweet susan and to Joe too

  20. Janet in Rochester says:

    Oh I just saw the news about Iris! Tears streaming down my face – hard to type through the blur. How goofy are you when you dissolve into a big pile of goo over a dog you never even met? Pretty goofy I guess – and I can’t explain it. I’ve come to the conclusion though – that we knew each other in another life. Please tell Iris’ mom and dad how very very VERY sorry I am. Iris and that tail of hers just captured my heart when I saw that video of her on your backporch a couple of years ago – and something tells me she’s enjoying THIS Christmas all cozy and comfortable on one of Heaven’s white sofas – bless her thumping, loving heart!

  21. Sonny Peterson says:

    Ah the wonder of it all …such wonderful memories for you ! Have the merriest Christmas of all and big hugs to you and Joe and your fur babies

  22. Jack says:

    YES ! grandma was on the job, but never so much as when she and Mom were together in the kitchen — those Christmas Dinners were so fantastic ! The dressing with Gravy – the sweet potatoes with Gravy – the mashed potatoes with Gravy and the turkey with Gravy ,
    Showing a pile of Cranberry sauce island poking up through the Gravy……after you are full
    To the point of popping , buttering a roll and dunking it in the Gravy Bowl Homemade mince pie that bit you back — pumpkin pie with real whipped cream …..all served in that special aeromatic spicy atmosphere given up by everything that was cooking …..everyone talking at once as we came to the table and crowed into our respective places ( a small note here ) those places were chosen and designed with care to separate instigators and elbowers. But still to be able to help the little ones with their food …..
    This was after we had “had the tree” of course, another prolonged ritual where the father handed out the presents one by one, while we all waited for each gift to be opened with all the associated oohs and ahs going on. Sometimes Mom had to run check something in the kitchen and then we waited, painfully, especially if the gifter had not yet got to our name because the mother needed to see what everyone got!

    We had friends with property in the woods about 40 miles away and the boys would all go with me to get a tree which we would proudly bring to Mom, seeking her approval, sometimes our eyes were bigger than the station wagon and there was little or no room left
    for the boys to ride — for some reason those trees had very stiff needles but we got ‘er done And we were a family!

    • sbranch says:

      That was great Dad! As Irma Bombeck said, “We come from a family where gravy was a beverage.” 🙂 Sweet dreams tonight!

      • Julie Marie says:

        Merry Christmas to you dear blog daddy!… I LOVED hearing your Christmas memories… so very heartwarming… have YOU ever thought of writing a book?… I would buy the very first one!… xoxo Julie Marie

      • sandy says:

        oh Jack daddy, you are too cute. I feel like I’m swimming in gravy!

        Merry Christmas Jack, Susan and Joe, too!

        xox, sandy 🙂

    • carmel says:

      Merry Christmas, Jack! Thanks for the warm Christmas memories.

    • Peggy Cooper says:

      Ahhh gravy! I see you love it as much as I do. If anyone tries to bring salad for Thanksgiving or Christmas I tell them don’t bother – because why would you serve anything you can’t put gravy on?

      Jack, I’m sure part of the reason Susan is so wonderful is because of the father you are. Merry Christmas to you, and to all that you love.

    • Barbara (WA) says:

      Merry Christmas, Jack, Dad of the blog. Such sweet memories you’ve shared. Merry Christmas, Sue and Joe. I am a teary mess with all the joy coming to our home with a grandson this year.

    • Julia says:

      I was just going to say that I take it you like gravy! My grandson
      ask me to make Swedish Meatballs and I did, with tons of gravy!
      A friend of mine said that they were the only family who used a
      soup tureen for a gravy boat! Also, I love the picture of the
      7 in their pj s. So sweet. Such a great family and such sweet
      memories. Merry Christmas

  23. Ann says:

    Merry Christmas Susan and Joe and all the Girlfriends! We are Counting our Blessings this year.

  24. Deb from Dixie says:

    Wishing you all a Jolly Holiday……full of Cheer, and the merriest Christmas to Susan, Joe, kitties and all the Girlfriends everywhere around the globe!

    I am grateful for the many blessings of the season…..friends, family and furry buddies, lots to be grateful for this year.

    And P.S. Don’t forget to leave some cookies for Santa tonight!
    I think we all made the “nice” list this year….( hopefully…Ho..Ho…Ho!)

  25. Debs OBrien says:

    Nadolig Llawen ~~~ A Very Happy Christmas Dear Susan and Joe, Girl Kitty and Jack ~~~ Home for Christmas 🙂

    Have a magical, fun filled day! Don’t eat too much {though that is what Christmas is for, right?} or are you also stocked up for a siege as am I? Really, really, really enjoyed seeing The Bishop’s Wife for the very first time yesterday morning~~~not the best of times to have a must watch movie showing, when there is so much to be done, but what the heck~~~it’s Christmas!

    Waving from Across the Pond in Wildy Windy Wuthering Wet Wonderful West Wales!!! xoxo

    • sbranch says:

      We have every kind of cookie known to mankind, two kinds of ice cream for dipping cookies in, Apple Crisp, blocks of fudge, almond brittle, not to mention a whole bowl of mashed potatoes just dying to be made into pancakes and fried in butter. It’s scary in this house. I give the scale wide berth. Must move out until the siege is over.

      I remember first time I saw Bishops Wife not all that many years ago compared to most of my old movies which I’ve seen a million times. My question was where have I been all my life!

  26. Ruth in TN says:

    Dear Susan…WOW! I ordered your book and more and thought it would take a while to arrive…wasn’t even looking for a package and definitely NOT THAT QUICK! You take the cake and more. THANK YOU!!! Some day I will tell you my story about wanting to take a ship across the ocean. I began reading last night, but very slowly. I want to make it last and enjoy every word and picture and thought! :_) ( and besides the house is full of people and noise, so it is hard to find a quiet spot to savor a good book sometimes.) Warmest regards, Ruth

  27. Pat V says:

    Have a very happy Christmas, you have almost completed a very exciting year.

  28. Laura C. says:

    Dreaming of toffee and a tea set! It’s sooooo beautiful.

  29. Merry Christmas Susan! Your blog is a breath of sweetness and fresh air and never fails to make me smile 🙂

  30. Gin in New Hampshire says:

    Thanks for your wonderful stories and blog, Susan.
    Here’s a great station for some classical Christmas music: pandora.com/music/classical/classical-christmas

  31. Ann Y in PA says:

    Merry Christmas, Susan and Joe ! Susan, thought of you when we sang this in church on Sunday…
    People, look east. The time is near
    Of the crowning of the year.
    Make your house fair as you are able,
    Trim the hearth and set the table.
    People, look east and sing today:
    Love, the guest, is on the way.

    Furrows, be glad. Though earth is bare,
    One more seed is planted there:
    Give up your strength the seed to nourish,
    That in course the flower may flourish.
    People, look east and sing today:
    Love, the rose, is on the way.

    Birds, though you long have ceased to build,
    Guard the nest that must be filled.
    Even the hour when wings are frozen
    God for fledging time has chosen.
    People, look east and sing today:
    Love, the bird, is on the way.

    Stars, keep the watch. When night is dim
    One more light the bowl shall brim,
    Shining beyond the frosty weather,
    Bright as sun and moon together.
    People, look east and sing today:
    Love, the star, is on the way.

    Angels, announce to man and beast
    He who cometh from the east.
    Set every peak and valley humming
    With the word, the Lord is coming.
    People, look east and sing today:
    Love, the Lord, is on the way.

    Just love that “make your house fair as you are able, trim the trees and set the table” part.
    Merry Christmas, again…..blessings always !

  32. Robert says:


    Thanks for the childhood story. This is the first year that my two daughters are “in the know.” Still, we are finding many magical moments to keep Santa’s magic alive. I thought you might enjoy this website. All day long it is tracking Santa’s journey around the world. We have it running all day. Enjoy. Merry Christmas!

  33. carmel says:

    Merry, blessed Christmas Susan, Joe and kittens! With prayers (I’ll remember at Christmas mass) that God’s graces continue to fill your lives in abundance. And a Merry Christmas to all the Girlfriends. You too, add to the goodness of this blog.

  34. First off I just needed to comment on the music. It put a big smile on my face because I had just finished a post on my own blog where I added “Its a Marshmallow World” with Dean Martin singing it. We are really girlfriends with the same music thoughts today. I love love the story. I cannot think of a good one myself today. I have enjoyed yours so much though. I do remember laying awake for hours listening…listening. Merry Christmas!

  35. Tina Mandeville says:

    Was so hoping we would see/hear from you today, Susan…and you did not disappoint! Now Christmas can come/happen! 🙂 To you and Joe, blessed be and merry be your hearts and your days! xo

  36. Martha ... Fremont, California says:

    The perfect story/gift on this Christmas Eve. Thank you. A very Merry Christmas to you and Joe. xo

  37. Stephanie says:

    Merry Christmas to you and your family (of course this includes fur babies ). Thank you for all of your wonderful stories and adventures. You really are a light in the world.

  38. mary spring says:

    ..dear Susan, thank you for sharing a Christmas memory with us.. as I’m also from a large family, I certainly can relate !.. our parents were and are great to have given us so much love and good care !!. the little five year old that I care for and I have been “tracking” Santa’s journey.. we understand that Santa just left Victoria and his next location is Mahebourg…He has already delivered over 3 billion presents and he’s already traveled 126,ooo Km. Santa says he is excited and energized !.. good thing to know !… ” Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night”!.. it is also my dear mom’s birthday!.. with love..as always..

  39. Sandy says:

    What wonderful Christmas memories!! I am the oldest of 4 and the rule at our house was, when you quit believing, you quit receiving, so needless to say Santa visited me until I was 18. Aren’t we thankful for memories? The world would be a sad place without them. Merry Christmas Susan to you and your family and may 2014 be the best ever for all of us.

  40. Lois says:

    The story of you sleeping with your gramma is funny. Oh the sweet memories of Christmas we all hold so dear. The stories I could tell of me and my four sisters. 3 of us got dolls and all that goes with them, sister number 3 got cowgirl stuff, go figure, merry Christmas to you and Joe.

  41. Peggy Cooper says:

    Thank you for this Christmas Eve treat. Merry Christmas to you, Joe, Girl Kitty, and Jack. May all your dreams come true!

  42. Peggy Davis says:

    Dear Susan, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you, Joe, Girl Kitty and Jack. Thanks for sharing your adventures and travels ~ looking forward to what the New Year brings!!
    P.S. Purchased one of Joe’s berets ~ love it!!! Hope it looks half as good on me as it does Joe!!! Thanks a bunch for offering them!!

  43. Dawn (Elmhurst, IL) says:

    Susan, I just knew you would touch our hearts with a Christmas Eve story today! Such a wonderful story! ♡ I left just enough time to check our blog before our guests arrive… and there you were! Right on time! Heartfelt thanks for the beautiful Christmas prayer. ♡ We are so lucky to all have each other!
    Merriest Christmas, Susan & Joe! Merriest Christmas, Girlfriends near and far!
    Warm hugs,

  44. Val says:

    How dear! Merry Christmas, Susan! ♥

  45. JoAnn from SoCal says:

    Oh goodness….muk luks…..hadn’t thought of those in years……

    Merry Christmas to ALL !!

  46. Nicki Anderson says:

    Merry Christmas Susan. May all the best blessings of this Christmas and the
    NEW YEAR be yours !

  47. mari1017 says:

    Merry Christmas, Susan! Thanks for sharing your wonderful Christmas memories – and Merry Christmas to your dad for adding more details – how special – isn’t the internet wonderful when used like this? 🙂 Absolutely love your prayer at the end of your post…no matter how many times I read it, it’s special and will be said many times over the next week. So many wonderful Christmas memories in my house and family – always a very special time. Have to get back to finish of baking – want warm loaves of pumpkin cranberry bread to take to dinner in a bit! Merry, Merry Christmas!!!! ♥♥♥

  48. Karen says:

    Blessed Christmas to all! And thank you Susan for ALL the delights through out the year!!

  49. Linda in tx says:

    Merry Christmas and blessings in the New Year!
    Love your story .
    Linda L in texas

  50. Nancy says:

    Merry, Merry Christmas to you and Joe and the fur babies!

  51. Debbie says:

    LOVED reading your story..I saw the email and knew I had to take some quiet moments before the chaos to read it! So glad I did! I grew up the middle child of seven..so crazy and exciting. So many memories! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  52. peg says:

    Sue! What a lovely post! I agree…everyone love stories. We are never too old. Wishing you and Joe (and the kitties) a wonderful Christmas! xoxo ♥ love, peg

  53. Ricki says:

    Reading this is like the scene I just left. Decided to run a few things down the street to my daughter’s house. Our five year old Avery with black eyes and hair is jumping up and down. She said she wasn’t going to stop till Santa came. I told her she had to be an angel at church tonight. She said “Angels like to jump”. Do you want her regular mail of Federal express?

  54. michelle a in so calif says:

    Merry Christmas Susan to you and your family.

  55. Terry says:

    Merry Christmas, Susan! Merry Christmas to Joe too!

  56. Grace Patane says:

    How lucky we are, to have wonderful Christmas memories.
    Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  57. Rita Baker says:

    Merry Christmas. I remember those good old days, growing up in Chicago with precious memories of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Been shedding tears all week remembering those times and those who are not with us anymore but who touched our lives in the grandest way – with love. Blessings to you and your family, including the kitties.

    Rita and her furry family, Andy the sheltie and Nicky the horse

    • Chris Wells Knickerbocker, W TX says:

      Give Nicky a kiss for me on that soft velvety nose. I miss that most of all.
      Merry Christmas.



  59. Stephanie D says:

    Merry Christmas!

  60. Chrissy says:

    Merry Christmas dear Ms. Susan and to all the girlfriends too!

  61. Susan from the Cape Fear Coast of NC says:

    May all the blessings of Christmas be yours and warm wishes for a New Year filled with happiness.

  62. Susan from Colorado says:

    Susan your story was wonderful! My granddaughter is always asking me to tell her a story of her mother, when she was small, or a story about me or one about her when she was a tiny thing. I think she might just love your story!! Merry Christmas to you dear Susan Branch! You have brightened many a day for me!

    • sbranch says:

      I used to ask my Grandma for the same thing. I wanted her to tell me about “the olden days” so so much!

  63. Mesclun says:

    What a great story!
    As I child I didn’t believe in Santa Claus. My mother wasn’t American and she didn’t see the point. (I know what you’re thinking – many, many people have told me that I had a depraved, deprived childhood because of that.) But I didn’t feel deprived without Santa – what we had was Midnight Mass and Réveillon and the thrill of staying up late and opening presents in the middle of the night.
    What I missed as a child came back to me when I had my own children. I loved Santa as an adult as ardently as they did. And I still do.
    Merry, merry Christmas Susan. I hope Santa brings you everything your heart desires.

    • sbranch says:

      Whatever we had as children feels like normal to us … hearing there wasn’t a Santa Claus was quite a bit of a shock since I managed to believe long after I should have figured it out! Maybe I would have loved the Reveillon better! 🙂

  64. Susan Hammersley Simon (in Illinois) says:

    Merry Christmas to you, Joe, and all your family and to Jack and Girl Kitty… have a wonderful Christmas, hold the memories of those who are no longer with us close to heart, and hug those who are with you. Thank you for this lovely, wonderful, teary eyed but smiley post, Susan. Once again, Merry Christmas!

  65. Sharon Calvert says:


    Sharon in Alabama

  66. phyllis mullins says:

    My very best wishes for the Merriest of Christmas’s and a blessed New Year. This year is a Christmas bye for me inasmuch as I’m recovering from pneumonia which leaves one with serious fatigue. Hence I’ve not sent even a single card, let alone any gifts. I hope for a better one next year! For comfort, I read THE BOOK of your English travels, as it was the first time, a wonderful trip!

  67. Beverly says:

    Peace to all and to all a good night!

  68. Judy in CA says:

    I didn’t sleep with my Grandma, but I had to share a room with a great aunt, who would eat a raw onion before bed… yuuuuuuck !!!!

  69. Connie Sue says:

    Your such a wonderful Story Teller!! I could see it all as I read! Real Live Betsy Wetsy Dolls! Lucky You!! I adore that Picture of all you Kids! and trying to slide outta bed without waking your Gramaw! Thank you for all the Peace and Joy your Books and Pictures and your Blogs have brought to me this year! I am soooooooooooo loving the Blog Archives too!!

    Merry Christmas!!!
    Big Hug!

  70. Beth Keser says:

    Merry Christmas to you and your family! My favorite Christmas story to tell involves my getting coal from Santa! The Easter Bunny did not come that year either!! Obviously my behavior got much better during the next year -I did not want a repeat with the coal ! I told my kids that story every year and it certainly helped them to be on their best behavior! I still don’t know how my mother was able to do that 🙂

  71. Debbie says:

    Oh, I loved reading your story because I have similar memories. My Grandmother slept in my room too and I couldn’t put anything past her. Didn’t Christmas Eve day seem like the longest one ever? Such good memories! I really try to cherish every moment with family and friends as we prepare to celebrate together. Merry Christmas to you & Joe!

  72. Toni says:

    My Mom sleeps over on Christmas Eve too! Even though she only lives next door.

  73. Merry Christmas, Susan to you and yours! Since you don’t yet have 100 comments, I’ll leave one 🙂 I’m so glad you’re back home with your kitties and your china and Potter things. May you hear tidings of great joy!

  74. Becky says:

    May your days be Merry and Bright!!! From sunny Oklahoma, Becky

  75. Ginger says:

    I enjoy your posts so very much. You had one funny grandma!

  76. Diane T says:

    Merry Christmas!

  77. A wonderful story, Susan! Grandmas rock. Now that I am one, I know this for sure!

  78. Anne Krush says:

    Merry Christmas, Susan and Joe and kitties! Thank you for giving my heart a pitter-pat whenever I see a new email come through. Following your journey acoss the US was wonderful. You are pure delight! Anne

  79. Sue Miller says:

    Merry Christmas Susan…wishing you a magical day, just like the ones gone bye.

  80. Pat says:

    Merry Christmas to you and yours. May your days be merry and bright.

  81. Karen says:

    Merry Christmas to you and Joe and wishing you many Blessings and times of great Joy in 2014!

  82. Sylvia in Seattle says:

    Merry Christmas everyone! Loved the GRAVY memories :-). Mixed emotions for sure about Iris :-(. I think she had a good life, certainly really good neighbors! Kids coming tomorrow for brunch. Trying to get everything in order. Some Tea Tins under the tree for sure. Sun shining here. Go figure.

  83. Marcia in Brazil says:

    Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones, Susan! You inspire me to be a better friend, a more optimistic person and to see and appreciate the little things. Much love,

  84. shirley burt says:

    Oh Susan,
    Such fabulous memories. Thank you. One I remember from childhood—my daddy always had to have a cigarette first thing in the morning, and most especially Christmas morning. It was unbearable waiting, watching that red glow and the flick of ashes into the ashtray on the nightstand. So, one year we-I don’t remember who thought of it- cut a cigarette in half and were brave enough to give it to our over six foot tall daddy. He took it well and smoked it and let the 3 of us go down the hall after they turned on the lights of the tree.
    Only after the years of helping Santa assemble toys, can I appreciate what a sacrifice it was for him to not have his whole cigarette. That would be
    like us without our cup of tea.
    So thanks for the memories, and a very Merry Christmas to you and yours.
    Oh I almost forgot, The Bishop’s Wife is my absolute favorite movie, too.

    Much love and bunny hugs,

  85. Pam G says:

    Merry Christmas Susan to your family and blessings for 2014.

  86. Marianne in Mo. says:

    May you have a very Merry Christmas!

  87. jeannine leonard says:

    Merry Christmas Susan and Joe! I hope Girl Kitty and Jack get special gifts from Santa too.

  88. Janyce Beyer says:

    Merry Christmas, Susan. Best wishes to you, Joe, and the kitties for the new year!

  89. Teresa G., Lafayette, CA. says:

    My new favorite line from your stories…..”I almost always cried.” Haha! That made me laugh out loud. Yes, the anticipation of Christmas is enough to do in even the strongest of children. Merry Christmas!

  90. Diana - Highland, IL says:

    Oldest of 4 here!!! Yes, many wonderful memories and lots of “excitement”… the most “trying” Christmas was when one of my younger sisters got up before everyone and divided everyone’s presents into piles by names.. UGH!! The whole fun of diving in and finding our own presents snatched away!! Well, we made her put them all back under the tree. scrambled!! LOL.. oh so many great memories!.. Thank you for nudging me to slow down and thing.. Well, I am done with work work, time to go get the food going… Just wanted to wish You and Yours plus ALL the Girlfriends/Guy-Friends out there a wonderful Holiday!!! The Best to All and Safe Travels for those that must travel during this time! MERRY CHRISTMAS!

  91. Shanna says:

    Dear Susan,

    I love this story. Your grandmother was awesome.

    Merry Christmas to you, Joe, Jack and Girl.


  92. Pat Johnson from Paso Robles, CA says:

    Merry Christmas to ALL of the BFFs!! Thanks for the story, Susan. I know I must have a ton of them but right now I have Christmas brain-lock and can’t think of any of them!!! Tonight we are watching “Polar Express”….XXXXOOOO Pat from Paso

  93. Yvonne Shafer says:

    Merry Christmas to all! Susan, your memories are very similar to mine! I’m the oldest of 7 and had to try and calm them down so mom and dad didn’t know we were up! I wasn’t too good at that! Enjoy every exquisite minute of this glorious season! Dieting begins in January!

  94. Christy Keyton says:

    Merry Christmas, Susan, from Alabama – where it was 78 on Saturday and freezing today. I am glad, though, as it does not feel like Christmas at 78 degrees, at least not to me! I gave several copies of A Fine Romance to friends for Christmas. You have made many people happy at Christmas with your books and your blog. So, may that happiness return to you this Christmas!

  95. Melody says:

    Hello Susan, and Merry Christmas! Yes, I can relate to your story, even tho I didn’t have a Grandma sleeping beside me, I well remember the excitement of Christmas Eve night!

  96. Pam Fortune says:

    Hi Susan
    What a lovely story. I am staying with my daughter Antonia and her two children and I was telling a story about my childhood Christmases around the table this Christmas Eve as my grandchildren wanted to know what I got for Christmas. They were very surprised that my presents arrived at the side of the bed in a pillow case and I was allowed to open my presents when I awoke just so long as I didn’t disturb my parents. They didn’t like that idea. How times have changed. Now we are waiting the long wait until they go to sleep. Have a happy Christmas Day tomorrow.

  97. Merry says:

    Merry Christmas, Susan! May yours be bright and wonderful! 😀

    -Merry(yes, that *is* my name! 🙂 How great is that?! )

  98. Reneelynn says:

    A very Merry Christmas to you too!

  99. Barb from Ohio says:

    What a wonderful funny memory you have of Christmas and your Grandma; I think I would have said I got up to use the bathroom, but that probably wouldn’t have worked either. I can remember being way too excited to go to sleep on Christmas Eve and listening for jingle bells and noises on the roof! Thanks for sharing your memories and have a wonderful Christmas!

  100. Jackie P says:

    Susan, what a wonderful Christmas Eve story. I can relate 100% to it. Christmas Eve seemed to last F-O-R-E-V-E-R. And the JOY in the morning (finally!) of finding the Christmas tree decorated with lights, ornaments and tinsel and PRESENTS galore underneath. And that “new smell” of dolls and crayons and coloring books . . . When we were older, we watched Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” on TV, ending just before midnight on Christmas Eve. That is still a tradition with me. Christmas is truly a magical time, full of memories of family and loved ones, filling our hearts with joy and love. Your blog is like Christmas every day! Merry Christmas!

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