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. Cheryl Colazas says:

    Oh Susan,
    How I love reading your stories, your Christmas memories are similar to mine. What a magical time we grew up during! Thanks for sharing!
    Merry Christmas!

  2. Sue G says:

    Merry Christmas Susan and Joe! Happy Christmas memories!

  3. Irene Talaasen says:

    Merry Christmas , Susan. Loved the picture of you and your siblings!!! This is such a Blessed time, and the Greatest Gift was born. I want to focus on the Lord Jesus and rejoice!! Am finishing today The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp and it is so good!! Be Blessed and Rejoice and thank you for memories 🙂
    Irene in Colorado

  4. Trisha K, Missouri says:

    Marry Christmas to all!!!!!!!!!

  5. Becky from Lockport, Illinois says:

    Merry Christmas Susan and Joe! “I cherish the thought of you, my friend.” Gladys Taber

  6. Dena says:

    How lucky you were, but oldest of 8 ! you had your work cut out for you, I am 3rd to youngest of 8. But due to my mom passing , the state took away separated all the younger kids. But now as adults we keep in touch , but not close and no great memories of our pass. Thats why it has been so important for me to have made those memories for my 6 children. We had christmas get-together last night with kids and grandkids, and sat around talking of christmas’s pass, so i know i gave them the mememories and traditions to carry on , and that makes me warm and cozy and Have a merry christmas

  7. Sweet story and memory 🙂 I remember giggling with my sister in bed till the wee hours waiting for morning. I’m glad I get to go see her in a little while to share Christmas with her again.
    Merry Christmas!

  8. Cheyenne Renard says:

    Dearest Sue and Joe, Merry Christmas to you both and your family. Wishing you the best Christmas ever. Happy New Year filled with Health n Joy n Prosperity in all areas. I would love to win but if i dont you still have my undying love and admiration . Love to you and Joe XXX Love Cheyenne n Robert in Henderson Nv Thank you for sharing your great story i love the christmas pic of you n your sisters n brothers Love Cheyenne XXX

  9. Holly says:

    I love your story! My siblings and I also have wonderful Christmas memories of anticipation. Looking back on those times now though, I think having those we love around us was the best gift of all. Our “best Christmas” memories are those when we each had a cousin sleeping in our bed, or we were all on pallets on the floor and grandparents were in our beds. Company always made it better! My favorite adult Christmas memory is from 1995 while living in Egypt. My husband thought it would be nice if we drove around the Sinai during the holiday–nice maybe, but smart??? We were the only people on the road. We saw camels, sheep, Bedouins, and multinational Peacekeepers! Christmas Eve we found ourselves at the Holy Monastery of St. Catherine at Mount Sinai. We slept in a small cottage made of rocks, and had to wait until the chickens were butchered in order for dinner to be served. We toured the Monastery and climbed the mountain on Christmas Day. My kids still talk about that holiday! Later that evening we checked into a resort along the Gulf of Aqaba where we swam in warm water with brightly colored fish. The next day we walked into Israel, and road a bus into Eilat. Once we got into town, my kids became real excited because they thought we were in America again… they began to see real streets, real stores, and McDonalds! Merry Christmas to you both. Thank you again for your hard work writing, painting & blogging!! We girlfriends do appreciate it!

  10. I’m the youngest of eight children so my view was a little different. 🙂

    Thank you so much for the joy you give us all year long.

  11. jamie says:

    I love your stories and yes I always grab a cup of tea and I’m ready to read! every time I smell Oil of Olae I’m reminded of my grandmother. She would have loved your recipes. My mom always watched what I ate so she would hide desserts for me because I’m the oldest and I got stuck doing dishes. Her desserts always made the drying worth while!

  12. Brenda Caldwell says:

    I loved the story! Merry Christmas to you, Joe, Jack and Girl Kitty!

  13. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Gravy, mm mm, I agree with Blog Daddy! Wonderful blog & comments by all, thank you all you dear folks! Feelin’ the Christmas magic! Blessings, hugs & love headed your way!!! xoxo

  14. Chrissy says:

    As eldest of six and having a Betsey Wetsey, I appreciated your post. Childhood continues in my heart as well. I was able to have brunch with my sister and niece and pulled together silver, teapot and linen for a sweet experience.

  15. You are certainly a wonderful story teller, Susan! It’s been a wonderful Christmas day here in Alabama, sunny but pretty chilly. I would like to wish you a wonderfully blessed New Year!

    P.S. Thank you for the many snow pictures you share. I love to see them since the only snow we ever see here is in somone else’s pics.

  16. evangeline says:

    Dear Susan and Joe…..of course Jack and Girl Kitty. Merry Christmas blessings to you each one. I look forward to reading your blog.ow…every day is not enough! You seem like my very close friend, when you tell us about your childhood memories it makes me remember mine. Thank you for reminding me(us) how important our families and friends r to us . Wishing you many blessings in the coming year….I love “A Fine Romance” it was my Christmas splurge!! …… evangeline

  17. Marcela says:

    Felicidades!!!desde Argentina,aqui es pleno verano,su blog simplemente me hace feliz,esta en mi lista de cosas favoritas,la quiero sin conocerla,es como tenerla en mi comedor y compartir con una vieja amiga pensamientos…siento tanta emocion de sentirla cerca estando lejos!!!Mi gato se llama Angel Face y mi perro Chino y tambien los amo como ud a sus animales!!!Bendiciones queridisima Susan Branch!!!

    • sbranch says:

      From Google translate:
      Congratulations! In Argentina it’s midsummer, your blog just makes me happy, it’s on my list of favorite things I love without even knowing it. It’s like sharing thoughts with an old friend … I know how you feel about being away! My cat is called Angel Face and my dog is China. I love how you love your animals. Blessings dearest Susan Branch!

      Bendiciones queridisima Marcela!

  18. Dolores says:

    Your story sent me back to my young days so very many years ago. The magical excitement of Christmas morning, trying so hard to stay in bed. I’m sad to stay not only did I usually sneak out very early to open my presents but dragged my little brothers along. I guess I figured there was safety in numbers.
    Merry Christmas Susan to you and your sweet little family of humans and cats!

  19. Susan Kellam says:

    Ya’ll look so cute in your pj’s!

  20. Jeannette says:

    You were so lucky to have your grandmother to spend the night and sleep with you!! What a precious memory:) Happiest of new years wishes to you &Joe!

  21. Catie Cook says:

    I love this story… I think it’s in your “Christmas” book…? Yes? I also love the one where your Mom takes you for a drive to reality town re Santa. Both are great stories. Merry Christmas, Susan! xo

  22. Judy says:

    Merry Christmas, Susan. I loved your story. The same thing happened to me. I was grabbed by the ankle just as I was about to make my escape on Christmas morning by my Mom. Drats! Foiled again. What marvelous, wonderful nights those were when we were young. What memories that have lasted a life time. Waking up to find that Santa had brought a 45rpm record player with a Ricky Nelson tune, Be Bop Baby, in it’s paper envelope made me squeel with joy. Magical nights they were.

    • sbranch says:

      Ricky Nelson came to the island to sing in a small nightclub in the 80’s. Oh yeah. It was wonderful … Poor Little Fool, Oh Yeah, I was fooh-ool, uh huh . . .

  23. Merry Christmas Susan and Joe and kitties! Love your story! My children (all 7) were up at 6:30 this morning. But they let me sleep in until 7, such lovely dears! I didn’t mind though, because I had made a delicious Sausage and Egg Strata, and I couldn’t wait to eat it and drink my Christmas coffee!! (Made with a little Eggnog.)

    I hope your day was joyous and delicious too!

  24. sondra fox says:

    oops, I don’t know what happened to the message I wrote a few days ago, but I’m hoping this one will get through. My German grandparents had set rules about the order of Christmas Eve. We’d go to the German club, where there was a password to get inside the building. The building had two stories. The downstairs was where the bar was. My grandfather was always downstairs talking with his friends. The upstairs was a dance floor & stage. That’s where all of the action took place, polka parties, & the place where Santa came on Christmas eve. Before Santa came, the German choir sang carols in German. My aunt sang in the choir. Santa would come & pass out those red stockings with the holes in them. We’d get candy, an orange & an apple in the stocking. Around midnight, we’d leave the German club & head on up to my grandparents house. When Grandma would open the door, the lights on the Christmas tree were the only lights on in the house. Everything looked magical. It was rather hard going to sleep after all the excitement of Christmas Eve.

    Christmas is all over at our house ’til 2014. It was hard for all of us, trying our best to be happy. It was the first year without my husband Larry. We all had tears in our eyes as we recalled funny things he did or said. He always helped me cook Christmas dinner. This year I was alone in the kitchen, preparing things he always helped me with. He was always the one in charge of our turkey, out on the barbecue. We made it through the holiday, but it wasn’t easy. Maybe next year will be better. Our daughter brought their Chocolate Lab, Presley, to be with all of us at my house. My Son-in-law said that he saw Presley go into our master bedroom, as soon as he came into the house, searching for my husband. Our dogs are still remembering their pal, my late husband. (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

    • Janet in Rochester says:

      Sandy, there was a German club in Rochester too. I have a dim memory of going with MY grandparents. I must have been about 3. I remember it being quite dark except for candles and half a dozen Christmas trees with 100s of twinkle lights. Magical to this little kid. And I remember being given ginger ale with a maraschino cherry at the bottom. A kiddie cocktail, my grandma said. That was VERY special because my mom NEVER let us have sugary things, even back then in the 50s [she was ahead of her time when it came to nutrition]. PS – I think the dogs were looking for your husband. I think we’re going to find out someday how our pets love us and are more atuned to us than we can possibly imagine now. Have a very Happy New Year, dear Sandy… next year WILL be better.

  25. judy from connecticut says:

    Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas !!! My advise for you all with the New Year coming is, don’t procrastinate !!! This week was very busy getting ready for Christmas. The woman I work for, who lives in a retirement home in the Health Center, had mentioned she would like to get to a different rehab center where her older sister was, for a visit. It would have been so easy to say, let’s do it after Christmas. I decided to do it on Sunday. We went with a beautiful red cyclamen plant and some of my red heart shaped sugar cookies to bring her a little Christmas love. When we got there, I even got a man who was there singing carols with this guitar, to come into her room and he sang a number of carols just for the two sisters. It was Heaven sent. Amazing to watch the sisters remember the words and sing along. Anyway, it was an amazing visit complete with I love you’s and kisses. There had been problems with the sisters over the years, but this visit was just healing and loving . As we were leaving , we were all blowing more kisses to each other. Two days later on Christmas Eve, I was in the Health Center with “Charlotte” when the phone rang. Her sister had just passed away !!! I wasn’t really surprised, but so thankful for the special visit we had had two days before. Listen to that still small voice you sometimes hear, don’t put things off that could be even more important than you think !!!!! xo Judy

  26. Nancy K. says:

    Belated Merry Christmas to you andJoe. I really enjoy reading your blog. It is early and quiet, everyone is still sleeping, giving me time to reflect on our Christmas spent with our family. It was a wonderful day making new memories, but missing my Mom, who past away in October. We toasted her and shared our last Christmas memories of her. Memories are so important in our lives and they are fun to share. Thank you so much for sharing yours. Best wishes for a very HAPPY New Year.

  27. Barb says:

    What a great story, Susan and you retell it so well. It reminded me of lying in bed and looking over at the door of the bedroom and swearing I could see a shadowy Santa squatting down looking at me to see if I was really asleep. :0) Blessings in 2014 to all the girlfriends!

  28. Maria says:

    What a sweet Christmas story! It made me smile reading it.

    I only just found your blog, and I just love it! All your wonderful drawings… They make me want to start painting again! And who knows? I just might :).

    Have a lovely day and a marvelous new year!

  29. Gail Tomei says:

    I have enjoyed your blogs for a number of years and have never written to you about them. I was one of the first wave to order your new book – and give several copies away to girlfriends. You add sparkle to my already hectic life. I do sit with a cup of tea and enjoy your words and your pictures. Most of all I love your drawings. Thanks.

  30. Rochelle In TN says:

    Merry Christmas! My darling maiden aunt let me sleep with her at Christmas. She was so sweet, she would have let me take a peek if I had tried to get out of bed!

  31. Sara says:

    I’m so glad you never grew up on the inside, Susan, because you have a talent when it comes to sharing memories that’s as good as any 10-year-old kid forced to sleep with their grandma on the most important night of the year! 🙂


  32. Beth says:

    I hope you are taking a day off, yourself…
    …to rest, revel, and rejoice in the gifts of this past year!
    You are a Gift to all of us that so connect with shared memories of eras gone by, current delights of seasonal nesting, and dreams of Dreams to come!
    Nearly as wonderful as finding a Betsy Wetsy under the Christmas Tree!
    PEACE AND JOY to you and your Menagerie (including Joe!!!) this Day!

  33. Jack says:

    It’s a phase of life we all must endure, missing those friends and family that have passed. As we age, it grows, this year my wife lost her best friend, Jan and her daughter-in-law Paula, Sue lost her doggie friend Iris, I lost my friend Daisy (my dog), the world lost its friend Nelson Mandella, it all hits home somewhere and we go on. Because life is for the living. God-given and meant to be used, celebrated, respected. Letting time buffer the pain as it will do for the survivors, for you at Chihuahua Flats and for all of us.

  34. Jack says:

    We think you should get Vanna a big cup of black coffee with a good stiff shot of Bourbon in it — she needs to get her act together! We’re waiting!

  35. jean webb says:

    What lovely Christmas memories! Most of us have one. Like setting my brother’s alarm clock to go off at 1:10 am then getting up. The tree was decorated with Barbie clothes my mom had sewn for my sister and me ( i can’t remember what my brother got). This was the most beautiful tree we had ever had! My parents heard and quickly made us go back to bed and made us stay there till after 7am. Lovely, lovely memories.
    Thank you Susan for your wonderful views of the world. It makes me see more of the positive side to what goes on around me.

  36. Jack says:

    We can’t blame Santa, UPS, or the US Mail ~ you seem to be the only one with access to this
    recalcitrant holder of tea set power ~ all is dependent upon your purposeful directional activation. Having no alternative recourse, we seek your able bodied assistance in acting as go-between to espouse our most fervent plea for Vanna to get the show on the road.

  37. Rosemary says:

    So enjoyed your story about the ANTICIPATION of Christmas. My two brothers and I could hardly stand it having to wait to get up on Christmas morning. I can remember hearing the church bells ringing in the distance while it was still dark and just about to jump out of my skin. Yesterday, our grown daughter and my brother and husband and I leisurely got up, made coffee, etc. since our son and his family were celebrating at their home in North Carolina…no little ones around. It was a lovely day though.
    Thank you for your memories which seem so similar to mine! You have had an adventure this year. What will the New Year bring? Always think about that as I put away Christmas things on New Year’s Day. Our best to you and Joe.

  38. Diane from Poulsbo, WA says:

    I love your childhood stories and pictures! All of you looked so happy and loved. You told the Grandma story very well….I could practically feel what you must have felt just from reading it…and I dont think I would have enjoyed sleeping with Grandma on Christmas Eve either! lol. It is too much to ask of an excited girl!
    Christmas is definitely one of my very favorite times of the year…I love all of the traditions and the spirit of giving and sharing that seems to change people for a few weeks.
    I love celebrating the New Year too! We dont do much of anything usually, but it is still fun and exciting.
    I was wondering if Jack has a little stocking of his very own? We are rather silly, but we traditionally buy a packet of tuna or salmon and put it in our cats stockings for Christmas so they will have a “feast” too. I wish I could do some sort of needlework and create stockings that have the faces of GK and Jack on them for you! lol. 🙂 Happy Holidays and 0x0x0x0x0

  39. Margot in Virginia Beach says:

    I hope that Susan and the Girlfriends had a very merry Christmas!!!
    My Arnie had duty on the ship on Christmas Eve, so I ate dinner with him on the ship and watched some TV. I saw Christmas lights on several ships all lined up tucked in the piers, then home I went. Arnie came home, we went to church and then I started cooking like mad. Arnie’s old Navy buddy and now MSC shipmate came to dinner. I was so glad we invited him, because he said he hadn’t had a homemade Christmas dinner since 1997! He liked the new and iteresting veggies. LOL These guys are on strick orders from the doc. LOL
    I miss our family as we are all spread out over the U.S., but everyone is well and that is all that matters today.

  40. Nettie says:

    oh Susan you always touch my heart….I have been having an especially difficult time emotionally this holiday season with holding on and letting go…..mostly letting go of Christmases past and embracing Christmas present. Your writing and sharing your heart stories inspire me to move forward and I thank you and bless you for that. May you and Joe enjoy all the peace and love that you surround yourself with.


    Yes, i’. finally back. It’s been a hayride of a year and i can’t wait for it to go away.




  42. Barbara says:

    What a wonderful Christmas memory. I am one of 9 children and we were allowed to go down to the bottom of the stairs(as that is where our stockings were hung) to get them but we always had to bring them up to our own bedrooms before we could go through them. We were always loud, running, jumping 2 stairs at a time and bumping into each other on the stairwell that one year my Mother decided to place each filled stocking against our bedroom doors. That year my youngest brother tripped over his stocking and was on crutches for a week. My Mother never did this again as going to the emergency ward on Christmas Day with 8 other children waiting to open our presents just about did her in. What a memory….

  43. Jeannette Hirschberg says:

    Merry Christmas Susan and Joe. May the new year being you much joy and happiness.

  44. Kathy says:

    Your blog and web site are such a treat to read a view…love the photos and can almost taste the goodies you serve and photograph and of course my favorite photos to see are of Jack….I think my Alice would love him…and you have just the right music to go with the blogs….loved the Artie Shaw since I played the clarinet many moons ago….
    Hoping your New Year brings good health…true friends and the grace to take each day as it comes.
    Kathy and Alice

  45. SuzK says:

    For a number of years, when I was little (back in the 50s), we lived in a trailer (40′ long, 8′ wide) – we traveled to job sites where my dad would build roads – mostly in New England. Because our home was so tiny, hiding gifts was very difficult and my Mom knew I was a major snoop! One Christmas I was really excited – my sister and I were getting amazing dolls, doll clothes and other great stuff. Imagine my surprise Christmas morning when completely different items showed up under the tree. My Mom hid the presents for the lady next door, who also had a snoopy daughter, and that mom hid mine!

  46. Suzanne says:

    Thank you for sharing your sweet memories. We must be close in age because mine are very similar.

  47. Sara from Arkansas says:

    I love everything British and enjoyed watching Becoming Jane this afternoon with my mother-in-law and daughters-in-law. That reminded me of one of my top 5 movies, Miss Potter. Have you discussed that movie in your blog? We watch it again and again. I found a set of 7 Miss Read books for part of my sister’s Christmas present. She carries your reading list around with her, so I knew she’d be thrilled. She’s going to share them with the rest of the family as she finishes them. She gave A Fine Romance to her daughters-in-law, and they love it as much as we do. Thanks for being such a wonderful influence (you introduced us to Emma Bridgewater!!). Have a wonderful new year.

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, Miss Potter! I own it, it’s my regular viewing cry material, I love it. Becoming Jane too, is wonderful. Happy 2014 Sara!

  48. Margie Terry says:

    I thought I left a “comment” yesterday (Christmas Day) but I do not see it?! so it seems I also missed out on the “tea set” – darn……………..what’s the secret
    to leaving a comment besides clicking on the “Post Comment” box?

    Merry Belated Christmas to you and Joe!! I am anxiously awaiting opening my SB 2014 Calendar to see what is in store for the new year!! Thank you for all
    the wonderful posts and especially for “A Fine Romance”! One day soon I hope to make a trip to England to do some exploring of that beautiful countryside!! THANK YOU!!

    • sbranch says:

      Don’t worry Margie, if your post was “waiting for moderation” it was still counted for the drawing. Hope you make that trip, ou will love it!

  49. Mary S. says:

    Thank you for the wonderful Christmas story from your Christmas Past!!
    That poem, “Rock Me To Sleep”, always makes me cry!!

    Love from Mary S. in Fresno, CA

  50. Lorna Pyrih says:

    Hi, I just wanted to let you know of a book you might be interested in (if not already!)- It’s The White Garden – A Novel of Virginia Woolfe by Stephanie Barron. Sissinghurst Castle and The White Garden play prominent roles in the story. S. Barron has also written The Jane Austen Mysteries – 9 books in the series- where Jane is cast sometimes unwittingly as a private eye. There are many off shoots from Jane Austen’s writings, some good, some not so good, but these are worth reading. There is a new J.A. related novel- Longbourn by Jo Baker- a servant’s story set around Pride and Prejudice. Although it is well written, I found it at times grim and gruesome. Servants most definitely did not have an easy life. Take care, Lorna Pyrih

  51. Faith rose says:

    What a wonderful story Susan! I know how it is!I love that poem about touching hands!I am so richly blessed with family!Two grandparents on both sides, siblings that I love and adore!My parents are wonderful!Not even to mention cousin that are like siblings to me!I thank God everyday , I am truly blessed!

  52. Paulie says:

    Loved the posts………always do……….and chuckling over the blue cornflower casserole dish by Corningware because I still have and use mine and I’m not sure but what these go back to late 50’s if I recall correctly is when I got mine. My how these good old dishes do last a lifetime of lifetimes and create such happy and wonderful memories. Don’t you just love that? Hope you continue to enjoy a happy and warm Christmas season. We are freezing up here in Vermont. All iced in and not melting after seven straight days of sub zero. Still so many without heat and power so keeping them in mind. Northern Vermont got hit so so hard again. Everyone is trying to make the best of it and we have power companies from as far as Texas and Ohio here as well as many other states helping out. God Bless them all!

    • sbranch says:

      Glad to hear everyone is pitching in Paulie, we New Englanders are pretty good in these kinds of emergencies!

  53. Lacy Joy says:

    I am one of 5 children, and on Christmas Eve, we would all sleep in the basement, piled on couches and snuggled under a mountain of blankets on the floor.
    At the top of the basement stairs, there was a large vent leading to the first floor. If you peaked through it on Christmas Eve, you could see a sliver of the living room, and just a teensy bit of the Christmas tree, shining warmly in the dark room. And maybe, just maybe, if you squinted very hard, you could see the tiniest hint of mysterious boxes, shining paper, and shimmering bows. (That is, if Santa had already snuck in.) Throughout the night, all 5 children would inevitably make our way up the stairs to “use the bathroom”. And on our way up the stairs, we would peak. Oh boy, would we peak.
    I have the most magical memories of seeing the hint of buldge in the bottom of the stocking…presents casting shadows on the walls…
    Very Magical Memories Indeed.

    • sbranch says:

      Love that Lacy. I’ve never mentioned it before but my brothers drilled a tiny hole, with a drill, through the bookcase from their room into the living room. It served the same purpose as your vent! Ah, the creativity of curiosity-driven children!

  54. Midge Cureton says:

    I love the memories of my family growing up. I only had one sister but had two cousins that lived with their parents in our house too. We lived in my grandparents large, 3 story house. There were 11 of us. What great fun we had with that big extended family. My children we lucky enough to have a similar situation as when my father retired, we sold both houses and built a large one to accommodate 8 people that covered 4 generations. Over that years we opened up our home to many others who while not having a permanent situations resided with us till they found a new job or new apartment.

  55. Sheryl from Chico, CA says:

    Christmas is past now. The tree is starting to shrivel. The gifts are mostly put in their new homes. The recycling can is brimming with colorful ribbons and paper spilling out. We may be feeling a little let down on this day. However, reading your story made me already look forward to next year and by then I’ll have a new story for me to tell my Granddaughters on Christmas Eve. Thanks, Susan.

  56. terry trenkamp says:

    dear Susan I can relate to your christmas stories. Iam the oldest of nine. I have six sisters and two brothers. What great stories I could tell you over a pot of tea. Have a great New Year. Best Whishes Terry

  57. Angie(Tink!) says:

    ⛄❄⛄❄⛄❄⛄ All I Can Say Is Merry Christmas Sweet Sue I Love This Blog & I’ve Been Basking in The Glow Of Christmas & All It’s Magic! I Love This Entire Holiday Season…I Love Christmas & I Love Santa & His Reindeer & All His Elves…I Love All My Family & Friends…& I Love Us “Girlfriends” & I Love Everybody’s Kitties & Puppies & I Love Christmas Presents & I Love Christmas Carols & I Love Christmas Cookies & Egg~Nog & Christmas Movies & Mistletoe & Everything Christmas! & I Love You Sweetest Elf~Sue! Thank~You for A Truly Wonderful Year! Thank~You For Sharing All Your Magic With Us! & I Know That The New Year Will Be Filled With More Love & Fun & Joy! Twirling into 2014 with A Huge Smile on Me Elf~Face! 🙂 Merry Christmas To All! xoxo Poof! ⛄❄⛄❄⛄❄⛄ & A Very Blessed New Year! Yay! 😉

  58. Annette McD says:

    There is never a dull moment in the life of a big family. I am also one of eight children. I have two older brothers, I am next( the oldest girl). By the time I was
    nine years old, I was the proud big sister of two younger sisters and three younger brothers. I could rock them, feed them, burp them, bathe theme, diaper them like a mini-mom. It all seemed perfectly natural to me. I remember my mom being perennially pregnant.I don’t know how our moms did it. I have one son and some days are exhausting, I can’t imagine having eight kids, got to give those ladies credit!

  59. Annette McD says:

    There is never a dull moment in the life of a big family. I am also one of eight children. I have two older brothers, I am next( the oldest girl). By the time I was
    nine years old, I was the proud big sister of two younger sisters and three younger brothers. I could rock them, feed them, burp them, bathe them, diaper them like a mini-mom. It all seemed perfectly natural to me. I remember my mom being perennially pregnant.I don’t know how our moms did it. I have one son and some days are exhausting, I can’t imagine having eight kids, got to give those ladies credit!

  60. Ruth McCort says:

    I love your blog and have made many of your recipes. Do you have a scone recipe you may have picked up on your England trip?

    • sbranch says:

      I have a rather delicious Cream Scone recipe (if I do say so myself) in my AUTUMN Book on page 109. I kept running into sawdusty-type scones which to me, I say, when there are such things as the Orange Lavender Polenta Cake or the Lemon Butter Cookies (both in the new book) in this world, why bother with a sawdusty scone? So I worked to develop a tender scone recipe. Mine are heart shaped, there’s a powdered-sugar orange glaze for them, plus a lovely Orange Butter to serve alongside. I hope you have that book.

  61. Karen Stefanelli says:

    Dear Ashlee and Susan,

    Ashlee Congratulations on winning the Beautiful Tea Set “Shirley” and the delicious looking Almond Brittle. It was so exciting to slowly scroll down and so very hard to not rush the moment of who won! Ashlee I am sure your tea will always taste a little bit extra special in your new set. Welcome to the wonderful, sweet world of Susan Branch and all the Girlfriends! A Curtsy to you Susan for the exciting and generous give away and the wonderful gifts you shared with all. I have already downloaded everything on card stock. Thank you again.


    P.s Now off to find the German Pancake in my book!


  62. Mary Ann says:

    Merry Christmas, Susan. I am so excited to tell you that I gave a copy of your new book to my sister for Christmas and she said it was the best gift I’ve given her since the year I gave her your Christmas cookbook. Which was quite a few years ago. 🙂 Thank you for creating her two favorite gifts ever!

  63. Deborah Dowling says:

    I love your story about Christmas. It reminds me of my childhood Christmas
    back home in Illinois. My sister would wake us up at 5:00A.M. to open Christmas presents and then we would have pancakes for breakfast.

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