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. Love the erstwhile craziness of your memories, we share similar. I would spend the night at my sister’s house and, to push both of her boy’s over the edge, would sneak around at each outside window and jingle bells. Sometimes a gruff “HO HO HO” would be added to the mix. I’d peer through the windows to see them, eyes big as 50 cent pieces, mouths in an O, still as mice with watchful intent in every pore of their bodies. I still remind them, they still laugh, we still love.
    Merry Christmas S&J; gives the furry babies some tuna for Christmas.

  2. Jenny (Higginsville, Missouri says:

    Isn’t it wonderful that our Christmas memories, more often than not, turn out to be our most treasured childhood gifts! Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  3. Monique says:

    Brought tears of many memories! I was the 3rd of 6 with a 20 year span. . .. Most be with us tomorrow 🙂 Many stories will be told for the young & young at heart. It is a difficult (emotionally) Christmas this year, but the traditions are the touchstones of our lives. . .It DOES matter. . .especially to those who are now older. May God bless you, your hubby & kitties, abundantly in the new year & May the Christ Child find a warm dwelling in our hearts! Merry Christmas!

  4. Judy Dow says:

    Merry Christmas, Susan and Joe! My hubby and I were remembering Christmas memories this morning. We did say that we miss little children at Christmas. But we are having our annual open house tonight. So nice to see friends and their children. We look forward to our someday grandchildren to fill our house with giggles again. Although our friends do provide many of those! Have a wonderful holiday. So many blessings to count! Love, lucy

  5. Dorenda says:

    Merry Christmas, Susan! Thanks for all the joy you share, and all the stories. I, too, am the oldest among my siblings, and can SO relate to some of your stories. I’ll have to think of a few to tell my nieces and nephews tomorrow.

  6. Raynore Jones says:

    I love the stories. I wish I had those kinds of memories. I do remember the awful silver tree my mother loved. Ugggly.

  7. Patricia says:

    Lovely post thank you. I’ve just been reading “’twas the night before Christmas” a truly lovely book and takes me back to my childhood. Wishing you and Joe a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy 2014.

  8. Andrea Porter says:

    Merry Christmas to you & Joe! So glad you had a wonderful trip across the country and back. I bet your kitties missed you. Thank you for another year of wonderful stories, recipes, drawings, etc. I bought A Fine Romance for my mother for Christmas – I can’t wait to give it to her! Again, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

  9. anne-marie vogt says:

    Merry Christmas Susan. Have a wonderful time with your family and friends. Blessings for a healthy and happy New Year!

  10. nonnie says:

    Merry, Merry Christmas Susan! Loving every minute of Christmas Eve!!

  11. Jane says:

    My older brother was the equivalent of your grandmother. He came home from college for Christmas, and as much as we loved him and looked forward to this, me and my five sisters (yes, there were seven of us!) couldn’t wait for him to go to bed so that we could have a peek at the living room and what Santa had left under the tree. Our stealthiness and fear, coupled with giggles coming up like bubbles was exactly like yours. Bur he was quicker than any of us and corralled us all back to bed, at least until sunrise!

    Thanks for bringing back these memories! Sending warm wishes for a wonderful Christmas to you, Joe and the kitties!

    Jane From Chicago

  12. Patricia Sedillo says:

    Merry Christmas Susan and family. I LOVE your stories. I met you several years ago at a Girlfriend’s party in Petaluma. My BFF and I had so much fun.

  13. judi says:

    Oh, it is always such fun to hear about your childhood memories. Had to REALLY laugh picturing your brothers in their cowboy pj’s sleeping in a CHAIR w/dog, ha, ha. Do you remind them of that ….and have you told their kids about it if they have any. So cute. Christmas hugs to you and yours xoxo judi p.s. 🙂 nice to hear from you Jack blogdaddy!

  14. Claire says:

    Merry Christmas to all! Enjoy your nesting after all your travel this year.

    thank you for taking us all along, …..”oh , the places you’ll go”!

  15. Judy says:

    Your grandmother story was delightful! It certainly reminded me of my childhood years. We were allowed to get up as early as we wanted, but we couldn’t wake the grownups until 7 a.m. I used to get up around 4 a.m. and open my stocking (this was allowed) and then I had to wait, not only for the grownups (my parents and a resident grandmother) to awaken, but then (horror of horrors) for them to eat breakfast before the rest of the presents could be opened. It was AGONY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I hope you and Joe have a blessed and merry Christmas and that the kitties get all sorts of wonderful toys and treats. Merry Christmas also to all the girlfriends!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. Christine says:

    A Merry, Merry Christmas to you and Joe!! Isn’t wonderful to remember wonderful childhood stories! My Grandma and Papa were the best! They filled half their living room with presents, all we could ever ask for! How I loved watching their Lionel run around the base of the tree! Now we do the same for our grandchildren! Oh how I treasure Christmas and the love shared!!

    Thank you so much for a forum where we can remember and hear others precious stories!

  17. cathy bullard says:

    Is there a way to send a comment to Susan that can be read only by her & not posted for everyone to read?

    • sbranch says:

      You can send it here and tell me not to post it and I can do that Cathy. Or you can write to [email protected]/~susanbs3/susanbranch/

      • Just Joey says:

        Oh my goodness,Susan….I see by your reply to Cathy that you were up sending a reply at 4:15 this Christmas morning! You need a Gramma to make you stay in bed a bit. Then again, half the fun in being a grown up is being able to get up when you want to….right? ;0)

  18. CarolK in Cent'l Jersey says:

    Dear Heart, Merry Christmas to you and yours from me and mine……..

  19. Pam Rudzki says:

    Love your Christmas story Susan. Takes me back to Christmas memories of my own as a child. But then, aren’t we all children again at Christmas? Thanks for your story, and a very Merry Christmas to You, Joe, Girl kitty & Jack!

  20. Susan ( an Ohio gal in SoCal ) says:

    Merry Christmas to you ,Susan, and to all of the girlfriends! Loved the story, it made me smile as I remembered my own. As an only child, I made it out of bed easily one Christmas and got the sleepy but obliging adults ( Mom, Dad, Grandma ) up at 4 AM. We all opened presents, and then they let me stay up and enjoy my presents while they went back to bed. I had new books to look at! A doll! Who wanted to go back to bed? Certainly not me. Christmas blessings to all of you!

  21. Susan Moore says:

    Thanks for the wonderful story Susan, and for sharing it with all of us. Have a wonderful Christmas and I can’t wait to read more stories in the New Year. Merry Christmas to Joe and the kitties too. Snow is predicted for us tonight in Indiana and I’m hoping for a white Christmas!

  22. Nellie says:

    Dear Susan –

    I love the story about you and your grandmother. I’ll bet her “assignment” was to keep you from waking up the household on Christmas morning.:-)

    We have had our celebration here already, due to schedules of various members of the family, and it has turned out to be a “Susan Branch Christmas!” I now have all three charms on a bracelet on my wrist! Love it!

    I send along the best of wishes for a Merry Christmas to you, Joe, and all your family!

    Peace and joy,

  23. Joan McCusker says:

    Hi Theresa in Lafayette…not sure you remember me…we stood next to each other waiting to meet Susan…you were very funny…trying to “convert” those in Lafayette…Happy Christmas.
    Susan and Joe and kitties…Happy, happy Christmas…enjoy every moment and all the “goodies”. You make me laugh out loud and then I’m tearing, with lower lip quivering…I love Christmas (always have)…these days are not always easy. I got to meet you this year and won’t soon forget you. Love to you.

  24. April says:

    Merry Christmas, dear Susan! May the Lord bless you and Joe in the coming year.

  25. Barbara in Napa says:

    Thank you Susan! Merry Christmas! And thank you for another year of joy!

  26. carmen mays says:

    I loved your story. I always have loved Christmas it truly is a magical time of year.
    Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  27. Balisha says:

    Merry Christmas Dear Susan
    Hugs, Balisha

  28. Becky says:

    Joy to the world, and love to you and all of the girlfriends! Aren’t we lucky people!

  29. Raenell Cannady says:

    Merry Christmas to you and yours Susan………I can only imagine the beauty , the love, the friendships, the grace that surrounds you on this glorious day! Here’s to a wonderful 2014 too! ……..all my love, Raenell
    I loved reading your memories!

  30. Donna Erickson says:

    Such a sweet, charming, and heartwarming story. I had to chuckle about the sliding out of bed. Reminds me of the many times I tried this when I laid down with my kids napping. Now, many years later I would not fight the nap. Just go with it. Merry Christmas to you and Joe and a happy, peaceful, and joyful New Year.

  31. Pat Mofjeld of St. Paul, MN says:

    Thanks for bringing back memories of past Christmases…I remember especially the smells and sounds of Christmas…

  32. Joanie B from San Dieog says:

    The ghosts of Christmas past are sweet, whether from childhood or being parents or grandparents. Best wishes to you and Joe and new sweet memories from 2013. “Only one more sleep till Christmas Day! ” (From the Muppet Christmas Carol)

  33. Debbie says:

    Greetings from Pennsylvania! I just took a walk around my neighborhood to admire the Christmas lights. The weather was just cold enough, not too cold, and snow flurries were softly falling. Merry Christmas, Susan.

  34. Sheila Hebert says:

    Love the story! Christmas is my favorite holiday!

  35. Cyndi in NC says:

    We are lucky indeed. Hugs. Merry Christmas and God bless us everyone!

  36. Kitty, Pueblo West, Co says:

    Merry Christmas……….thank you for brightening my days…have enjoyed reading your wonderful travel stories and always look forward to your Blog posts. Thank you for sharing with all of us.

  37. Sheena says:

    Merry Christmas to you, Joe, and the kitties. May 2014 be filled with joy!

  38. Linda June says:

    Thanks for the exciting story about YOUR Christmas Eve and Grandma and Santa–well, not Grandma and Santa TOGETHER of course!! Even at my age I can remember back the almost sickening excitement I had on Christmas morning. We kids always had to eat breakfast first (a cruel trick parents play on their children) before the front room door would be opened and we could go in to see all the wonderful presents! Hope your holidays are filled with wonder.

  39. Merry Christmas dear Susan, Joe, Girl Kitty and Jack. Wishing you all a cozy Christmas full of blessings.

  40. Francine Werlinger says:

    It must have been so much fun at your house with all those kids! I’m a only child! Love your grandma story! Merry Christmas to you! I hope you have a holiday tables ape to share with us!!

  41. PJ says:

    I still think about when I was younger laying in the bed, staring at the glow of the Christmas lights streaming through my window, staining to hear those sleigh bells! There is still something in the air on Christmas Eve and the hush that falls over the house when the last light is turned out as we crawl into bed. Even in our empty nest. 🙂 Have yourself a very Merry little Christmas!

  42. Lee Rose says:

    Oh the excitement and anticipation–I remember it well.

    Merry, merry Christmas to you and yours.

  43. Carole S. says:

    Now I’m taking notes for when I get to be someone’s grandma! What a great story!

  44. Marcy in California says:

    Your grandma and my grandma were definitely on the same page, because
    boy, does this ever sound familiar! Grandma radar! Ha, ha!
    Thank you, Susan, for this sweet Christmas memory and all the fun, inspirational
    sharing you do. Hope your Christmas is simply wonderful.

  45. Jo says:

    Thanks for the lovely reminder of the past, the joy it brought AND how we need to keep giving it to one another, especially, the grown-ups through story or touching hands.
    Happy Christmas and Merry New Year!

  46. Kathy Minges says:

    Loved your story, Susan, and the reference to muk luks: my favorite slippers ever. I had no siblings, and no relative sleeping in my bed, but I did have a Christmas stocking decorated with big jingle bells.

    It wasn’t difficult to slip down the hall and into the living room to see what Santa had brought, but getting that noisy stocking back to my bed without waking my parents was a big challenge. Some how, they always slept through it. . . .

    A Merry Christmas to you and your family, Susan, and to all the Girlfriends.

  47. Elaine says:

    Such a great story Susan; thanks for sharing!
    Merry Christmas to you and Joe and best wishes for 2014.

  48. Lorna Schreck says:

    Your stories are so similar to mine. Maybe it is the age, or the large family, or the era, but your memories bring out the best of my memories at all times of the year. With our family spread throughout the USA, Mother and I haven’t had family to share our celebration of the Christ child’s birth in a long time. Fortunately we are able to create a festive time together including our English crackers, good tea set and cream cheese sandwiches!

    Susan, I wish for you a very happy, health and productive 2014. I know you know you are loved by all of your girlfriends and we know we are loved by you. What a wonderful gift to exchange.

    Merry Christmas to you, Joe, Jack, Girl Kitty and let’s not forget Pete!

  49. Jan Johnson says:

    What a wonderful memory – thank you for sharing. I enjoyed it as I sipped my soup on this cold, cold day – before I have to do my medical transcription work, of which there is a lot, on Christmas Eve!

  50. Claudia says:

    Merry Christmas Susan, from Claudia in Paradise, CA.

  51. Cheryl Ferguson says:

    I join everyone else in thanking you for this sweet memory, Susan. May you and yours enjoy the merriest of Christmases and the loveliest of new years.

  52. Elaine from MN Brrrrrr says:

    Ho Ho Ho and don’tcha know……I’d love to win the tea set and treat!
    Thank you for writing my favorite book of the year and donating to Casa Pacifica!

  53. Kate says:

    Being a grandmother myself, I can just imagine your grandmother was giggling to herself as you tried to sneak out of bed and was just waiting until you just about got away, then SNAP! I would do the same thing to any of my grandchildren should they try it. I love all the excitement and fun of Christmas morning. Our children are grown, but we get to relive the fun with our four grandsons and one granddaughter now. And hopefully one day with our great-grandchildren.

  54. Asha says:

    Merry Christmas Susan, Joe and all friends furry! I absolutely LOVE this enchanting Christmas Eve blog! I am the youngest of seven children, the brother closest to me is 9 years older. My eldest brother is 88 years old! As a child, I was spoiled on Christmas and every other time of the year too! I admit it! It was tons of fun when we all gathered around the Christmas tree! When my brothers started to get married and have children of their own, the fun really began! We all celebrated together! Saw the Bishop’s Wife for the first time last week and was enchanted! Thank you for the Christmas memories, Susan Branch! You are truly a special person and we are so blessed to have you as a friend! Asha oxoxox Merry! Merry!

  55. What a great Christmas Eve story to share! Thank you so very much, Susan, for this wonderful reflection. Christmas is truly such a special time and no matter where life takes, the memories of Christmastide make us who we are and remind us where we come from. Merry Christmas!

  56. barbara lassiter says:

    Beautiful! Thank you and Merry Christmas to you and Joe and those whom you love!

  57. Barbara P says:

    Merry Christmas!

  58. Jane Armour says:

    What a delightful surprise to visit your page on this Christmas Eve & find a new BLOG! Christmas blessings to you all!

  59. Patricia says:

    Dear Susan, as my husband and I finish our Christmas Eve dinner I sneaked out to the computer to see if you have a new post. And oh what a surprise ! What a wonderful Grandma story. At this time of the year I cant help but to feel like a child again waiting for Santa.
    Merry Christmas to you, Joe, and the kitties. 🙂

  60. Chris Wells Knickerbocker, W TX says:

    Christmas is still Magic! (It just gets here faster!)
    Going to bed early…cookies and milk for Santa…alfalfa and deer corn for the reindeer.
    Merry Christmas Girlfriends! Love you all!

  61. Carol Johnson says:

    I just can’t tell you how much I love these memories you share of days-gone- by with the beautiful family you grew with! Thank you for this Christmas Eve story, Honey! Merry Christmas to you and Joe!!!

  62. Ann says:

    Susan, May you have as much joy in 2014 as you bring to others. A very Merry Christmas to you, Joe, and all your sisters and brothers and their families.

  63. Ursula says:

    Merry Christmas, Susan!

  64. Carol D. says:

    Merry Christmas Susan! I love the story.
    God Bless You,
    Carol on the farm in Iowa

  65. Christie says:

    What a wonderful childhood memory. Thank you for sharing it with us on this Christmas Eve, I loved it. I hope you, Joe, Girl Kitty, and Jack have a very Merry Christmas filled with more blessings than you can count.

  66. Lynnie says:

    Merry Christmas Dear Girlfriend! May all the happiness and warmth of Christmas wrap around you and yours this holiday and keep you safe and together with starry-eyed wonder.
    Hugs, Lynnie
    (formally VintageGalStyle)

  67. Cathy Prentice says:

    Loved your latest note. I am having a wonderful Christmas. I purchased 10 of your books and I am gifting them with a note that says “look out! You are gonna get hooked!! I can hardly stand the excitement knowing that my friends will be enjoying the books this week! I kept one for the night stand in the guest room….sure hope that does not mean I will never see the guests! Merry Christmas to you , Joe and all who work in this organisation!

  68. Cindy Stierhoff says:

    Well it was not my Grandma on occasion that I would share a bed with, but my Aunt Hazel. When I would come to visit her with my brother in Santa Paula……..one night, accidentally, I swear, I pushed her out of bed! What a squeal came out of her and for me, sheer terror, thought I was having a nightmare. But in the end, we laughed so hard we woke up my brother Doug and she just had to make us some cocoa to get us back in bed.
    Merry Christmas Susan to you and all your loved ones, we are all blessed to have met you this year, me in Pasadena, Ca.

  69. Sandy from Ca. says:

    I love it, this sounds like my Grandma see had eyes in the back of her 🙂 Merry Christmas Susan and Joe….and your kittens too 🙂 Merry Christmas Girlfriends <3

  70. Susan says:

    I loved that story so much I had to read it again. Thank you. The perfect story before I head off to bed this Christmas Eve. Merry Christmas!

    Big Texas Hugs,
    Susan and Bentley

  71. Vida Howard says:

    Oh what stories! I had two Grandmas most of my life. They were Close by where they could do the most damage. They loved me so and every holiday was food and cousins and aunts and uncles and shopping and secrets and….well, you know. But how wonderful to have those memory treasures. They don’t come so easily anymore. Stay warm.

  72. .Karen G. says:

    Merry Christmas, Susan! My precious dachshund, Jack, crossed the Rainbow Bridge today. It’s been a day of such mixed emotions. My Granddaughters’ excitement of waiting for Santa and my tears of sorrow. I hope he and Iris become best of friends.

    • sbranch says:

      When Iris’s parents told our friend’s 7 year old daughter that Iris had gone to heaven they said something like, “she was old and it was her time.” The 7 year old thought for a moment, looked up with perfect round and pure eyes and said, “But now, she’s the youngest one!”

  73. marion Rose says:

    Good evening Susan
    It’s almost CHRISTMAS!!!! My husband and I went to a wonderful Children’s service at 5:30 tonight. Our pastor was the Wizard (beautiful costume) and the Snow Queen was helping him. It was a magical service that included the children that they dressed to makeup the Manger scene. A real baby, very young played the baby Jesus. At the end all children in the church joined the Wizard at the Manger scene. Our Pastor gives his all to bring a great message to children and the adults. How the adults enjoyed watching, and sometimes getting fairy dust on them. We stayed and went to the 8:00 service and that
    was also wonderful with Carol singing and the wonderful Christmas Story ending with candles and singing Silent Night. I love Christmas Eve and all the traditions………and soon it will be Christmas!
    Merry Christmas to You and Joe and your Kitties

  74. Lorrie says:

    Merry Christmas, Susan and Joe. I loved your Christmas story. I’ll bet your grandma was laughing inside as she yanked you back into bed, waiting until the very last minute to do so. HA!

  75. Rhonda D. says:

    Loved your Christmas story Susan. Wishing you, Joe, the kitties and all the Girlfriends a very Merry Christmas. xo

  76. Susan Kellam says:

    Loved your Christmas story! And I can definitely relate to that time period.

    It’s Christmas Eve and I won’t be dreaming of a white Christmas down here in my part of Texas. So I guess I’ll just dream of a pretty white and green trimmed china teaset!

  77. Debbie Sowards says:

    Merry Merry Christmas Susan! Love your blog–it always warms my heart!

  78. Suzy Petersen says:

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Susan! So enjoy reading your blog!

  79. Marsha MacLean says:

    Merry Christmas! What fun to read your post tonight after all the family has gone home to their beds to wait for Santa to come! I had a houseful of nephews and nieces tonight, along with my sister in law… Great to be with them all, especially the little ones.
    I loved what you said about milk schmilk! I was laughing so hard! I could just imagine it…and when you wrote about sneaking out of bed…and getting caught by your grandma! Too much fun! Hope you have a blessed Christmas, love, MM

  80. Pondside says:

    Merry Christmas!
    Every year, until I was well into my teens I’d become ill on Christmas Day – from the excitement!

  81. Happy Christmas to you and your lovely family Susan! I always enjoy reading your memories of your childhood. There were only three of us, and my father was in the airforce so we moved a lot. We were not blessed to have grandmothers who stayed with us at any time and your memories are what I would have wished for as a child. I always wanted my mom to have more babies, but she never did! There was just us three. I do have some lovely Christmas memories from my childhood however, and your words have reminded me of them. Different from yours im some ways, similar in others, but every bit as cherished! One year I awoke to the sound of rustling paper and noticing my younger sister who shared the bed with me was gone, I was very distraught thinking they had gone and started Christmas without me! I dashed out to the living room to see my sister happily opening everyone’s presents all on her own. Her excitment was contagious and I was soon helping her out. Needless to say mom and dad weren’t very happy with either one of us! Have a lovely Christmas day! xx

  82. sharon says:

    Dear Susan,
    I love your blog. It always makes me feel happy after reading it. The tea set is so beautiful. Thank you for the chance to win it. One of us will be very fortunate to have it. Merry Christmas and Happy Healthy New Year!

  83. sharon says:

    Hi Susan, Sorry thought this was about the tea set. I loved your Christmas story. Such wonderful memories! My grandparents gave me a Patty Play Pal doll one Christmas. My father carried it to our house wrapped in a blanket so I wouldn’t see it. We laughed all the way. It was such a stiff package to carry. It’s great to have stories about our family Christmases. Merry Christmas and Happy Healthy New Year to you and yours.

  84. Joy Pence from Ohio says:

    Merry Christmas dear friend. Thank you for the sweet Christmas memory. You drew me in, I was inching out of bed right with you. I used to have to sleep with my Aunt who would come every Christmas Eve, I felt your anguish! My sister always beat me downstairs because of it. Have a blessed day.

  85. Sarah Maldonado says:

    Merry Christmas, Susan and Girlfriends! I loved the story and I know we could all relate! Christmas IS so magical. Even when we were grown and sharing an apartment not far from our parents home, my step-sister and I would spend the night at our parents house on Christmas Eve just so we could awake there on Christmas Day. There’s no place like home. Susan, I love that poem by M.H.H. Murray and included it in my Christmas cards this year. Touch hands.

  86. Miss holly says:

    Merry Christmas Susan….thank you for all the joy you have given me this year.
    You are a very special person on this earth…
    I hope your day is filled with all the love and kindness you share with us.
    Heaps of love to you and yours…….miss holly mr. Richard and the 9 =^..^=’s

  87. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Christmas Eve meant Aunt Ellen and Uncle Bob would be arriving on the train from New York City!! We kids (yes 7 of us with me the youngest) couldn’t wait for them to come. Most of the time, the train got in way close to midnight soooooo, that meant nobody got to see them until the morning. We were all pretty sure they must have seen Santa somewhere along the way in the sky out of the train windows. Because, every Christmas morning, Santa had come, and Aunt Ellen and Uncle Bob were in the pullout sofa bed in the basement! The rule in our house was NOBODY was allowed up out of their rooms until 7am. So, at 6:59 we flew to the door and bolted down the stairs to first find Aunt Ellen and Uncle Bob, smother them with hugs and kisses and waited patiently until they could grab bathrobes and get up the stairs to the living room where our mom was all grins! Merry Christmas Day, Susan!!

  88. Linda Tuskey says:

    My memory is of my sister Cheryl and me sharing a room. Cheryl kept bugging me to tell her what I got her for Christmas. “No! I won’t tell you. Stop asking. She stopped asking and I warned her that I was angry. Afterward I got up and shouted, “Okay! Red tights!” “Waugh!!! You told me!!!” Then crying. That pretty much tells you about our relationship.

  89. Linda g says:

    Merry Christmas Susan and Joe from Tom and Linda!!! Loved the story Thank you so much for sharing it. When I was a little girl there would be no tree until Christmas morning all decorated. Geez my parents must have stayed up all night!! I remember my dad holding me at the window and hearing jingle bells outside He would say oh no I hear Santa. Some little girl better get off to bed!it would scare me because I thought for sure I would never fall asleep fast enough and he would skip our house.Later learned dad had drilled a hole through the floor the bells were in the basement and he would tie a string to his toe!!My older sister told me when I was 3 and really saw a decorated tree in our living room for the first time I had huge tears rolling down my face and stared in awe for about 10 minutes not moving!! Oh how I love that feeling!!! Thanks for bringing up the memories Have a most wonderful brillant Christmas girlfriend!!!xo

    • sbranch says:

      Oh how exciting to remember your three year old first-view of the tree! I’m sure it had to be wonderful.

  90. Sherry says:

    Merry Christmas to Susan, Joe, Jack and Girl Kitty. Looking forward to having the tea set back home in OKC :). So did you go all out with your Christmas decorations this year as always? I so enjoyed the spread from Yankee magazine that you shared! I tried to find a copy here but was unsuccessful. I just finished reading A Fine Romance and loaned it to a co-worker right before we left for Christmas. Her eyes lit up and she said she was really looking forward to enjoying it with her Mom. I think she will be buying her own copy soon :). I know I’ll probably start reading it again as soon as I get it back. Have a blessed Christmas!

    • sbranch says:

      We were much lower key this year. And although no one said anything, we kept YANKEE Magazine on hand in case anyone asked “where are your decorations” we could show them what we were capable of! We had a smaller tree, and the only thing on the front of the house was a wreath, but the kitchen door had lights, and there were lots of sparkly garlands hanging over my kitchen window. It was perfect.

  91. Lovely Christmas memories! Thanks for sharing. I just received my Susan Branch “A Fine Romance” book as a Christmas Eve book…can’t wait to sit by the fireplace with a nice cup of ginger peach tea and start reading! – Loretta

  92. Susan P. says:


    I am alone for only a few seconds, I am sure of that….I sneaked out of bed hahaha the tree lights are on and Bing is singing I am Dreaming of a White Christmas…my heart and soul are filled with the Spirit and ready to dash off to Church..only a few decision to be made the white or the red Sun dress… flats or sandals…Hair definitely up…yes I am in California enjoying a hot (89 degrees) Christmas. I know all the men in my life will show up in shorts (dress shorts of course) And all the women (because it is Christmas) will wear a sweater…A SUMMER LIGHT SWEATER..this has happened in 2000 and all of us with out saying anything to each other wore a summer sweater…but the amazing thing we all had RED on it…it was a great laugh and day. In my mind, as Bing sings, I AM…DREAMING OF A WHITE CHRISTMAS…… GOD BLESS US ALL, Enjoy your day Susan and Joe and again thanks for a great blog Love Susan P.
    OOOOHHHH THE SUN IS COMING UP I MUST GO AND SING..The palm trees are swaying and the liquid ambers are all aglow and every so lovely their leaves are doing a dance as they every so beautifully glide down to our lawn hhhhmmmm I am so blessed……

    • sbranch says:

      Sounds like my childhood Christmases, we often got to swim too!

      • Susan P. says:

        Susan, Yes growing up in California you understand those warm to HOT Christmas Days can happen…But my husband says it is my fault for I order a cord of wood instead the usual half cord. That is just asking for a small heat wave for Christmas. Thanks for the prayer about touching hands..I said it for our Christmas dinner….My Aunt Agatha (102 this Jan 6th) was unable to make it to dinner nor my in-laws….This really says it all touching hands to the young to the old, etc etc etc. Thank You again and again. Happy New Year to you and Joe and all of yours….OHHH I LOVE YOUR DAD’S COMMENTS!!!!!! Love, Susan P.

  93. Linda H says:

    WONDERFUL story … thank you for sharing … I have similar memories being the eldest of four. My childhood (and thus Christmas) was idyllic … I often thank my parents in my heart. Merry Christmas to you and HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESUS!

    • sbranch says:

      I thank my parents in my heart too, all the amazing things they did for us!!! They will never know, could never know.

  94. Holly Lynn Cook says:

    Lovely! Merry Christmas!

  95. jeanie m says:

    Merry Christmas Susan! Thank you for sharing all of your memories with all of us
    all the year through. You are truly one of those “angels on earth” with nothing but goodness in your heart. Martha’s Vineyard is so lucky to have you and Joe and your precious kitties. Have a wonderful day.♥♥

  96. Tzella says:

    Merry Christmas to all!!! And remember…is our time now to create new loving memories for the people we love! Greetings from Greece!

  97. Rosemary says:

    MERRY CHRISTMAS, Susan! Your sweet blog posts (along with your musica selections) are like little gifts I receive all year long. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  98. Patty in Michigan says:

    Great story, Susan! Read it with my mom this Christmas morning…..we laughed! Merry Christmas to you and Joe!

  99. Lynn says:

    Oh joy! What was under the tree from brother/Santa but A Fine Romance! Yaaaaaay!! Wishes do come true!! You would think I was the child you described in your great childhood memory, so excited was I to open that package!
    A cup of well-steeped Rose Petal black tea, Scandinavian cookies made by my 85 year old mom, the Christmas program on NPR in the background, laughing to the point of tears when reading your Christmas Story, — and now to open your book! It is as much a gift from you as from Santa, and I send you great big thanks!

    A joyFULL Christmas to you and Joe, to Jack and Girl,
    Xoxo from one of your blog-ettes!

    • sbranch says:

      How great for your brother, I’m sure he could see your excitement and I’m sure it made him feel like Santa! Loved the description of your moment. xoxo

  100. Sonny Peterson says:

    Merry Christmas Susan and Joe !! Susan my deaughter gave me your book for Christmas . Love it …I had told her about traveling to England with you two on your blog . I told her that the end of your book signing tour was over and that I wanted your book for Christmas ! I am devouring each and every page slowly and want to say thank you for always including us in your life ! Your book is a gift of companionship ! Thank you ! Happy Christmas Day !

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