Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah, Feliz Navidad, and Happy-every-other-celebratory-thing that’s happening this wonderful time of year!!! What I’m doing? Oh lots, but mostly I just wanted to send love, and MUSICA of course!Here I am, on the darkest, shortest day of the year, looking forward to the longest most delicious night, but tomorrow, by the time you read this, it’ll already be the 2nd day of Winter, and we’ll be on our way BACK to the light. That’s why I love the shortest day of the year, it only lasts one day! And the very next day, it’s a new beginning!👏 And now, I have some tiny little Christmas gifts 🎁 for you that won’t even require unwrapping … Because as usual, I’m trying to 

First off, I was asked for a list of my favorite Christmas Movies ~ and for you old friends from way back, you know I have them! Any of them in that list above, even if they aren’t specifically Christmas, will make you FEEL like Christmas, and would be an excellent way to get through the winter in a happy, old-fashioned, everything’s-going-to-be-okay kind of way!💝 But to add to this list, don’t forget to see 2017’s The Man Who Invented Christmas (about Charles Dickens writing A Christmas Carol), 1946 It’s a Wonderful Life, 1947 The Bishop’s Wife, 1947 Miracle on 34th Street, 1949 Holiday Affair, and 1954 Hobson’s Choice ~ Hobson’s Choice isn’t Christmas but it’s old and English and SO CHARMING, try to find it if you can! You will thank yourself! Notice how so many of our classics came just after World War II? To a world of gratitude that the war was over, and a hunger for home, peace, love, family; to know what you do DOES make a difference; they wanted to see innocence in the eyes of their children, the world, so courageous, but so tired, wanted and needed magic ~ all the important, but normal things in life. I feel their humble relief and joy every time I watch one of these movies! I also love 1983 Christmas Story, and of course 1954 White Christmas, 2003 Love Actually, and 1951 A Christmas Carol (in this house, Joe will NOT have any other version, it must be 1951 with Alastair Sim! And it must be every year! And he cries every single time!! You’d think he’d get used to it, but he never does!) ~ and of course, Little Women, my favorite version is 1994 with Winona Ryder and Christian Bale, but I love them all. Toss in a little Palm Beach Story, some Roman Holiday, add Mrs. Miniver, and you will be mush for the season. As it should be!

And here’s something else . . .

Have you heard of this book? Joe and I have been listening to it on our walk, and twice, TWICE, I burst into tears out in the middle of the road. I loved it, he did too. Takes place in England at the turn of the century, it’s a novel based on history of the people who made the Oxford Dictionary . . . It was written by an Australian, and is her first book!!! If you read it, I’d love to hear what you think!

And our next little soul-feeder, it’s time for our yearly tradition . . . your Full Moon Bookmark . . . Gotta have it! It also explains the waxing and waning moon and how to tell whether it’s coming or going!It’s all the dates for the full moons of 2024! Just click HERE to print it out ~ then fold it in half, glue it, possibly get it laminated (they do that at Staples, UPS store, Office Max)  and voila!! A perfect stocking stuffer!🧑‍🎄    

Speaking of soul-feeders, mine anyway . . . Here’s a new page I just did for my 2024 Mini Calendar . . . I love it so much I thought I’d give you a preview. That quote! Doesn’t it just suit us to a T? It’s what we DO. So basically, this is all I’ve been doing, maniacally designing new calendars, over Christmas, if you can even imagine. Had to, supply chain still a problem and means everything is due to the printer’s early!

More preview, here’s the cover of the 2024 wall calendar … I’m ahead of my time (I’m imagining most of you are still in 2022? Not me)! So because of this and other things, we’re having a rather low-key Christmas this year. We helped friends trim their tree last night, drank heavenly eggnog with Bourbon, ate guacamole and chips, listened to Christmas music, and decked the heck out of those halls! Was small and sparkly and perfect. We have warm and cozy places to go and lots of old friends to hug on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Night and we’ve wrapped lots of presents  . . . but since Joe is upstairs at all times fixing floors and ceilings, painting walls and trim, making dust and noise, and I’m downstairs in my studio with Jack making calendars, we are taking Christmas off! We had to do that one other time that I remember, and we were fine ~ all it did was make us RAVENOUS for Christmas the next year. I love that!!I put this recipe on the 2022 December page of the wall calendar . . . so you’ve probably seen it and if so I hope you tried it, because it’s just DEE-Licious! And speaking of the wall calendars, Kellee wanted me to tell you that we’re almost out of them, but we still have the other formats, the mini, purse and large desk blotter, just in cases.

And speaking of recipes . . .

My sister Shelly (the mother of the twins who are now 106 years old, really just 19, but that seems to have happened way too fast!) called the other day wanting my mom’s recipe for Snippy Doodle so she can make it for her boy-men on Christmas morning. Just the mention of that recipe flooded my mind with memories! This was the coffee cake of our childhood! I sent her these photos and thought you might like them too… It’s such an easy little thing to make, I’m going to make it for Joe and surprise him Christmas morning. Inspired by my sister and my mom, a little family tradition . . . Because you know,

this recipe actually came from my great grandma . . .

Here it is in my mom’s handwriting. You can see, she noted that the recipe was hers, her mom’s and her Grandma Orr’s. I love talking about my mom, seeing her handwriting, eating her food, it makes her alive … as she will always be in my heart. I saw the most touching quote the other day  . . . 

Landscape of my heart.💘 Another something I thought would never happen! Growing old OR doing it without my mom! Doing it without Blog Daddy! But despite this total insanity, everything is as it should be, and for that, I have nothing but gratitude, and the most wonderful memories, the gift that keeps on giving. And all kinds of exciting plans for the future. Truly blessed. I would change nothing. Because I know what it is to put on sweet smelling flannel jammies still warm from the dryer and hold a sweet smelling baby wearing the same thing. Talk about Hygge! I know you know what I mean!💖 

So, another bit of soul-food . . . I want to thank all of you who took part in our first auction! I have lots of old things around, things that are now turning into “vintage” … that I put up for auction in order to raise a little money for charity.🎁

Like this teacup and saucer, part of my Lenox Dish collection . . . very hard to find these days. Off it went to a happy new home, and because of YOUR generosity, we were able to send a Christmas check to our local Community Services. They provide SO MUCH help to people on the island.💖 Makes me feel wonderful to do this, and it’s of course, like everything, all because of you.💞 I have more stuff, so we’ll do another one next year, and choose another non-profit charity to benefit. You know, there’s so much negativity these days, but I think there are always bad apples ~ every country, every race, every religion has them, some are rotten to the core, but look at all the beauty, look at all the goodness, it’s absolutely everywhere, in every country, in every race, in every religion. So much more of us than them!!! Goodness is just quiet, going about it’s business, making the world a better place, while bad apples are loud, proud of their badness 📣. Despite them, our cup is almost full to overflowing. So much hope for 2023!🙏

This is me and Jack last Christmas, doing a Zoom party with Hayley Solano of The Enchanted Book Club ~ and here we go again, we’re having another one! You can sign up to join us HERE … it’s going to be on Saturday afternoon, January 7, 3 pm EST, noon in CA, 8 pm in England, 1 pm in Salt Lake, 2pm in Sioux City, and everything in-between! We’ll be talking about starting off the New Year right, about the magic and power of New Beginnings!

I just bought myself these cozy jammie bottoms, flannel of course, and total heaven. No pockets, big mistake, but I LOVE them anyway, love the color, I’m wearing them right now with three sweaters and a turtleneck because I’m going nowhere today but feeling very hygge with all the frost on the grass and trees, so I checked and if you like them, they are now on sale . . .! ❌⭕️ 

I thought I would close with Jack, the perfect little gift that keeps on giving! That’s one of Joe’s work gloves⬆️, Jack LOVES work gloves and boots, goes wild, rolls on them, throws them in the air. Friends come over wearing work boots and he is ALL OVER them!!! Why? We don’t know. He must have been a carpenter in his last life! He’s great on ladders, perfectly fearless!

When he’s not helping me around the house, he’s helping Joe. Here he is, on high-wall bug-patrol.

Buddies. My two men.

On the ironing board . . .

on the sideboard watching me exercise, had to go get the camera to capture the cuteness.

Green-eyed monster at the screen door.

Watching over the world, making sure the squirrels get no where near the front door. Don’t even try it!

Lounging in front of the fire. Our soft furry little petty pet.♥️

Last and actually probably least . . . a little perky green and red for the season . . .💚♥️

And remembering other Christmases, this one at Holly Oak🎄, before the fireplace came in! I strung popcorn and cranberries . . . my little house . . . Notice the fabulous stenciling?🤣Killer weather coming all across the country … places with wind chill below -50º … yikes! Scary! And high winds. 😳 Here it will be a balmy 29º, but this is why God invented the people who invented TEA!🫖 And the wonderful knitters of the world! Stay warm! Shop today! Cuddle up! Turn on the oven and make Snippy Doodle! Be sure all your animals are inside and warm, and remember, days are getting longer now . . . nowhere to go but UP!💞I could not love you more! ♥️

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  1. Linda Zimmer says:

    Thank you for this and the wonderful coffee cake recipe. It was MY moms too.
    Christmas joy to you, Joe and Jack…..Linda Z.

    • Betsy and Magical Millie Ross says:

      Linda Zimmer!! The regional manager here at our home? His name is Doug Zimmer and we LOVE, LOVE, LOVE him…

  2. Jody says:

    Susan, this time of year I always go back to your book, Christmas From the Heart of the Home. Today I’m baking Annie Hall’s butter cookies. The twist I’m putting on them is this: Cutting them into squares and frosting them with lemon glaze (powdered sugar, lemon juice,lemon zest). They are SOOOOoooo delish! Just had to say, thank you, for the books I cherish and use! Merry Christmas and Blessings in 2023.

  3. Sherry Palla says:

    “It’s A Wonderful Life”, even in -11 degree MN. with -35 wind chill. Love your homey home and homey letter Susan. God bless your Christmas and Joe’s , and Jack’s, and may His peace be yours in 2023!

  4. Linda Mathews says:

    Merry Christmas, Susan, Joe and Jack! Stay cozy and warm. Greetings from southeast Michigan, where it’s 7 degrees with snow blowing sideways at 10-22 mph and a -10 real feel.

    I was delighted to see Dictionary of Lost Words featured. I loved it for so many reasons. It’s good to see a debut novel succeed. This one certainly deserves the attention.

    I followed it with another first novel, Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt. This one is so good I hated returning it to the library. Highly recommended for everyone. Especially anyone who loves the sea and its denizens. The title creature is an octopus.

    Happy new year to all!

    • Debbie Boerger says:

      Happy Boxing Day, Linda. Hope you stay warm and safe inside. We have family near Duluth.
      And thanks for the book recommendation about octopuses or octopi ?
      If you haven’t seen My Teacher the Octopus, you should. My husband and I got hooked on those amazing creatures here at Mote Marine Institute, near Sarasota, FL.

  5. Maria M. says:

    Ah, I would recognize the Miniver’s dining room anywhere. Every time I see that movie, I fall in love with that entire house all over again. I want to believe it’s a real house…I don’t know. If not, the set designer was a genius. Merry Christmas!!

  6. Debbie Boerger says:

    Thank you Dear One, for the glorious, early Christmas presents.
    Book recommendation, Full Moon bookmark, Movie recommendations, Wonderful pictures of you, your lovely parents, your adorable self with your siblings. And of course Mr. Jack doing his Catish things. Always love a picture of the handsome Joe.
    My handsome octogenarian just left to pick up what I’m cooking for Christmas Day.
    Have everything out to make the Kick A** Eggnog, an old recipe from a much loved relative, who didn’t drink!. Lots of egg yolks and sugar beaten to extremely thick, very sloooowly add the Bourbon. Then milk, cream vanilla and last, whipped egg whites. A neighbor of ours 30 years ago gave it the KA Eggnog name. I usually make many batches to give away, but not this year.
    Very quiet this year. Still have the spirit, but we needed a rest. Been very sick with yet another bout of the flu, and we are still kinda shaky.
    Going to be brrr, even here in Tampa. Have the old sheets ready in case it goes below freezing. Memories of late 80’s when it got to 20F, and I had 12 friends coming for Christmas meal. I’d worked for weeks getting all the silver, China and crystal ready…Had just inherited it. Not easy while teaching full time. Christmas day we had “rolling blackouts”. Thankfully, nobody died from partially cooked turkey. Such wonderful memories!
    Thank you for giving all of us this gift of yourself.
    Debbie in Tampa

  7. Terri Brewster says:

    Merry Christmas to you and Joe,
    Hope you have a beautiful celebration and the New Year brings you joy and is filled with many blessings. The blog was perfect timing. I was just thinking about you as I sit at my desk with the December calendar on my desk blotter. a I looked up at my little bulletin board with the 2022 full moon schedule feeling blessed to have seen every full moon this year and hoping our new schedules for 2023 were on their way and voila, it appeared in my inbox and your beautifully written blog post. Thank you for always making time for us, and giving us precious little treasures to enjoy.
    Stay well, safe and enjoy the holidays.

  8. Katherine says:

    Everyone in this household totally agrees with your sweet Joe on “A Christmas Carol”! Alistair Sim IS Scrooge. We also play it every year – on Christmas Eve. Not really Christmas without that tradition!

  9. Peg Ackerman says:

    Merry Christmas, dear Sue! Loved the blog post! Always fun to read your news. I love the Christmas movie list! Is that a book mark? It would be a fun one to have!!! Whitney is here for Christmas…we are sending New Years cards this time (we had to wait for him to come up so we could take our annual family photo). I hope you holiday is wonderful. Hugs to you, Jack and Joe! xoxo peg

  10. Rita Baker says:

    Please don’t forget to add, The Family Stone, to your list of Christmas movies! A must watch in my home. This movie has it all – snow, a big old house, & a wonderful ensemble of actors, each of which play their character perfectly. Two more hidden gems are, The House Without a Christmas Tree, 1972, with Jason Robards, Mildred Natwick, & Lisa Lucas, and The Homecoming, the pilot for The Waltons T.V show.

  11. Mamey Brown says:

    I was delighted to see a new post, especially before Christmas! Such a feel good blog to follow and I have been following it for YEARS!!!! Thank you Susan for always shining a bright light for all of us. I lost my mom right before Thanksgiving this year so we are a little sad, but just like you said above, it’s all good. She is now with my Dad, happy, healthy and free…..
    Merry Christmas dear friend…..I can not wait to see what 2023 holds…..

  12. KIRSTEN says:

    Susan, where does that quotation ‘Hours fly’ etc come from? It is on the sundial on the front wall of the very old house in Northamptonshire which was a childhood home of my grandmother. Thank you

  13. Diane Marie Bureman says:

    Hi Susan, Joe & Jack, Warm wishes for a glorious, productive holdiday time. We too are taking a break from all the hub-bub of Christmas this year, instead my husband and I drove from Pittsburgh to Lorton, VA (southside of DC), watched as they put our car on the auto train, we hopped into coach seats and 17 hours later we arrived at Sanford, FL, a northern Orlando suburb. Our two adult daughters got flights from Denver & Columbus, OH and joined us here last Sunday where we are staying in a resort till Christmas morning when we all reverse the travel process and head home. We all needed to rest and be together after a year apart. That is our present to each other. It’s been so nice not to have any stress at all. Again, wishing you bright eyes, steady hands and lots of creative thoughts!

    XXOO, Diane Marie

  14. Gayle in Washington State says:

    Desk Set with Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy is another fun movie to watch at Christmas.

  15. Janet Hellmann says:

    Dearest Susan,
    You never fail to bring joy to all who have the pleasure of reading your posts. Thank you so much for being you. Love to you, Joe and of course the beautiful JACK for a wonderful Christmas Season and Happy, Healthy New Year.

  16. Kit says:

    Merry Christmas dear lady and her family! Stay safe and warm. Love, Kit

  17. Dawn Jones says:

    Dear Susan,
    This post made me cry tears of joy! Thank you for all you do for us. You are such a blessing to so many! Have a Merry Christmas and know you are loved! Good Tidings, Dawnie & Hollis Jones❤️🙏🎄🏠🇺🇸

  18. Marie Edmiston says:

    “God bless us, every one!”
    — Tiny Tim

  19. Patty Walker says:

    Thank you Shining Spirit, for the divine, early Christmas presents.
    Book recommendation, Full Moon bookmark, (I belong to a Moonology Group) Movie recommendations, Wonderful pictures of you, your lovely parents, your . And of course Mr. Jack doing his Furbabie things. Including the handsome Joe who brings the additional magic to the whole thing.

    Making my Mom’s recipe for Eggnog, an old recipe, thanks for the reminder its the Bourbon … I was thinking brandy. Usually my Mom would make many batches to give away to cousins, One year I Dad dropped them while going out to the car.

    Going to be a blast of cold here in Fort Pierce, Florida …yes you read that right!!! brrrr!!! So Eggnog will be very warming….

    Thank you for the wonderful memory reminders and sharing yours with Us. Especially the Gift of You throughout the year!

    Patty in Fort Pierce, Florida

  20. ❤️Karen Saunders❤️ says:

    Every year I buy your wall calendar for my daughter. It is a MUST for her. AND she loves you as do I. I am a kindred spirit in that I love cats…Jack especially. It’s so sad tho…all my family is allergic to them so I cannot have one😢 I do have. WHFT named Gabby and she is a joy to us. Have a Merry Christmas Susan…AND Joe! ❤️❤️❤️

    • sbranch says:

      I was allergic to the Siamese cats next door when I was five, got big hives on my arms. So I thought I couldn’t have cats for years. Whatever that was, thank goodness, is gone!! Happy New Year Karen!😘

  21. Candice Black says:

    Hello Susan, Lovely post for Christmas! I enjoyed it so very much. You wrote of memories and giving others memories. That is what I did this year. For gifts to our 6 grown with families of their own, nephews and niece on my side of the family, I made them memory boxes, filled with photos from their childhood, pics with Grandparents, paper clippings of sports events or accomplishments in school or Boy Scouts. I have kept all of my parents paper memorabilia and my Grandparents too, So I decided to share it all with the next generation of my side of the family. I made 6 boxes. I used the pretty photo boxes that Michaels offer in their stores. I filled them to the brim with all sorts info, family history, military and local law enforcement. I threw in a goodie bag of assorted sweets for them all to share. Tied them up with pretty ribbon and do you know what?! They loved them, sharing pics to each other, laughing, loving, oohs and ahhs about everything. It warmed my heart! Now I know these photos have a good home and they will not get thrown aside and destroyed by someone who doesn’t care. Our families next generation will take good care of them! Plus my brother gave me a recipe of my Mother’s that was her Mum’s from 1941 during the war years in England. Made with rationed ingredients available at that time. It is a salad dressing recipe, in my Mom’s handwriting with a bit of history on it also. I am going to try it. It makes a pint that you can put in a jar in refrigerate or keep in a cool pantry back in the day! We certainly do have so much to be thankful for and all the lovely memories! So…”Chin Up and steady as you go” as they say across the pond! Merry Christmas wishes and the very best for health and happiness for the coming New Year to you, Joe and Jack! xo
    Candice in Ohio

  22. Jane says:

    The Oxford English Dictionary was one of the most frequently used titles in the reference collection of the library where I worked for 20+ years, so I’m looking forward to reading the book you recommended.
    Took a walk on Pismo Beach yesterday, a balmy 69 degrees with a super low tide at -1.7 feet, thought of you being so cold on the opposite coast. Enjoy your quiet celebration of the holidays.

  23. lani Nelson says:

    Lovely holiday post. Thank you. Took your advice and found Hobson’s Choice on Peacock. Delightful. Waiting to watch the original Miracle on 42nd Street with my Grandaughter. It’s a tradition. Enjoy your Holiday Season with Joe.

    • sbranch says:

      Isn’t it wonderful? I love that movie! I usually have a terrible time finding it, glad to know where it’s living right now!♥️♥️♥️

  24. Beth Carr Ferraro says:

    Thank you for sharing memories of your mother and thereby bringing back such wonderful memories of my own. She loved this time of year and made sure me and my siblings understood the true reason for the season. Merry Christmas to you, Joe & Jack!

  25. Lisa Jorgensen says:

    Happy Holidays to you, Joe and Jack! Hope you have a warm and cozy Christmas at home. Seeing your sweet Jack brought tears to my eyes as my nineteen-year-old Ragdoll cat Samantha passed away in May. This is the first Christmas in all those years without her. She loved the tree, and I loved seeing her cozy and sleeping on her Christmas blanket. Her whole life she loved shoes! Mostly mine but also my husband’s. I had a pair of sandals she would actually put each paw into each shoe! I miss her so much.
    We are having an 82-degree Christmas in the San Fernando Valley! You remember those! I would rather have snow!! I will always “dream” of a white Christmas!
    Good health and peace to you in 2023!!

  26. Tracy Batchler says:

    Thank you for sharing so much of yourself and your wonderful outlook on life ! You really do make my life so much sweeter! Enjoy this most beautiful time of the year with Joe and Jack! Words cannot adequately express my gratefulness for you! Merry Christmas and let’s have an extraordinary 2023!

  27. Sharon Watson says:

    Merry Christmas of Christmas’s Susan, Joe, and cute sweet kitty!

  28. Cynthia says:

    “The Dictionary of Lost Words” was one of my favorite books this year, if not THE favorite. It made me want to read the English Oxford Dictionary, which I have seen in its entirety, only once….stacked by volumes, in a San Francisco book store. There were sos many layers to this book, and much to ponder. Strong characters and strong message. All words matter.

    Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy 2023.

  29. Happy Christmas Susan and Joe and Jack! And to all the girlfriends also! Thanks so much for all that you have shared here today, and for what you share throughout the year! You are always a spark of light! As are all of the kindred spirits which gather here! My oldest son is travelling down from Fredericton today with his family for Christmas. It will be the first one with any of my children in over 24 years and the first one ever with grandchildren! I am so excited. It will be the best Christmas ever for me! I wish for you, Joe and all the girls a very festive and love filled couple of days! Happy New Year also. I am excited to see where 2023 takes us! xoxo

  30. Merry Christmas to you and Joe…and wishes for a happy and healthy new year, too

  31. Debbie Wittmann says:

    Thank you for the recipe! Is this recipe in any of your books? I have a collection of your books, so fantastic to read again and again!
    We have the same dining chairs you show in the black & white photo with your siblings!

    Merry Christmas!

  32. Pat W. says:

    Merry, Merry Christmas Susan, to you, Joe & Jack…thank you so much for your most welcomed holiday greetings, movies & books recommendations & recipes. The Snippy Doodle coffee cake looks like the one I baked for my children..years ago. Hope your New Year is healthy, happy & peaceful.

  33. Debbie Boerger says:

    Hope you didn’t have any trees come down. Our wonderful neighbor in Maine just called to say, none on either of our houses, but some others on the road were not so lucky. My wonderful stepdaughter just got on a flight out of Philly. She’s been stuck there for almost 24 hours, after her connecting flight to Maine was cancelled. Several more were cancelled, so we’ve been up all night supplying comfort and support.
    Hoping all Girlfriends and their families are safe and warm today. It was below freezing even here in Tampa.
    Be safe and warm,
    Mucho Love,

  34. Betty Hopkins says:

    Susan, on this cold wintry Christmas Eve in Georgia, what a joy to sit down in my cozy warm robe with a cup of hot chocolate this morning and savor every word of your Willard. It’s better than reading a good novel! I enjoy it so much and just wanted to thank you for all the ways you bring joy and positivity to us, not only at Christmas, but all year long. We, your girlfriends and I, are so blessed to have you in our lives. Hope you and Joe and Jack have a cozy, peaceful, and happy holiday season!

  35. Linda F Maxwell says:

    Loved all the memory pictures! Another movie you may enjoy is “A Child’s Christmas In Wales.” Based on Dylan Thomas’ poem, my kids saw it on PBS in the late 80’s and it became a family favorite. Happy Holidays!

  36. Sarah says:

    I knew Joe was good people. Alastair Sim is the only Christmas Carol in this house too. Merry Christmas! 🎁

  37. Lorraine from Toronto Canada 🇨🇦 says:

    Thank you for this lovely Willard! We find ourselves missing those who are not with us this year and having a low key Christmas. Your Snippy Doodle will be the perfect Christmas morning treat. Merry Christmas and all the very best for the new year!

  38. Maryellen Hamernik says:

    What a wonderful bright ray of sunshine on this bitter cold day in Ohio. We are praying for families affected by the traffic tragedy a few miles from my house and we are staying in for Christmas, too. My favorite Christmas movie is Desk Set with Spencer and Katharine, I just love the goulashes in the oven and the office party and the library and the plants. I’ve watched it twice between viewings of the Grinch with my grands and hope to squeeze in one more viewing.

    Stay warm, drink tea, and enjoy the season. I am going to try Snippy Doddle for breakfast!

  39. Laurie Nico’s Mom says:

    Merry Christmas Susan, Joe & Jack! 🎄 Thank you for this lovely Christmas post. Absolutely beautiful. Although it made me cry, I loved what you said about your mom & the quote as well. I have a collection of my mom’s & her sister’s recipes, in their own handwriting, framed with some antique things on a kitchen wall. My mom has been gone just over three years now, my aunt much longer, so I treasure these recipes & the memories they invoke.
    Blessings of the season to you & yours, Susan. May peace & goodwill reign.


  40. Merci says:

    My dearest Susan,
    Greetings from Kauai, HI (our third Christmas here and could not be happier!) As always you bring a smile to my face and joy to my heart! So happy I was able to meet you in Prescott, AZ a few too many years ago. It just confirmed to me you were as special in person as you are in your blogs.
    Thank you for all your wonderful stories, recipes, and especially the LOVE you bring to this world! You definitely give us hope to never give up.
    Wishing you and Joe a blessed Christmas and continued love, peace and happiness in the New Year.

  41. Sherry Winchester says:

    A lovely Christmastime to you, Joe and Jack, Earth Angels all. Snuggle up and keep warm! From our home to yours, Merry, Merry Christmas!

  42. Viffy says:

    Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!

    I just love the photos and stories. It’s nice to see one of my favorite birdie tree that you always put out this time of year.
    I’m staying home, safe and warm, watching movies and eating turkey sandwiches, popcorn and whatever else makes me happy. Best wishes to you and your family.

  43. Warwickshirelass says:

    Merry Christmas from England, Susan, and a Happy, Healthy & Peaceful New Year. May you find Happiness and Beauty in all you do.

  44. Karen Mikell says:

    Sweet memories! Merry Christmas!

  45. Kay says:

    My favorite Christmas movie is also the 1951 (the year I was born) version of A Christmas Carol with Alastair Sim. It’s the BEST one, IMHO. I hope you had a wonderful celebration. Happy New Year!

  46. Marsha Kilpela says:

    Hi Susan! Merry Christmas to you and Joe! Thank you for the lovely Willard! Always such a pleasure to read them! I read The Dictionary of Lost Words this past fall and really enjoyed it. I think it would be great made into a movie! Are you familiar with The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester? I saw the movie that was based on the book. Very interesting!

    • sbranch says:

      I thought I heard somewhere it is going to be made into a movie … won’t that be great? I’ll look for the other movie you mentioned!👏

  47. Susan Day says:

    Just saw on Instagram that Vineyard Haven was flooded! Please let your friends know how you, Joe and the kitties are! 🥰

    • sbranch says:

      Oh dear, not sure what that means, but we aren’t flooded, not that I know of. Still below 30º here, so snow hasn’t really melted yet … but no rain! We are snug as bugs here, no worries, but thank you! xoxoxo

  48. Coco says:

    Jolly Holidays to you, Susan!

    I was so busy before Christmas that I only just enjoyed this cozy post now (night of the 26th). I was so tuckered out on Christmas after singing at midnight Mass and Christmas Day church that we opened our presents on Boxing Day instead.

    Thank you for taking a break from painting your 2024 calendars to grace our last week of 2022 with a Christmas Willard full of your wonderful words, beautiful art, and joyful spirit. Hoping you are painting those calendar date numbers DARK — if they can’t be Lang big (though still hoping for that, too), please let them be dark/high contrast for middle-aged eyes to see from a few feet away. Merci.

    Loved all the pictures of Jack. Never mind the kitchen, kitties are the heart of the home!

    I too poured over the picture from Holly Oak — the first thing I noticed was the stenciling. 🙂 Time to read Isle of Dreams again, always inspires me so much.

    How old are you in the luminous picture holding your parents’ hands?

    The look on your very young, very beautiful mother’s face in the amazing picture with toddler you — it speaks galaxies. How poignant to see her with her first miracle, knowing from our vantage point all that you would end up giving to the world from the well of love she poured into you. As long as your books and Willards exist, she will be alive in this world.

    Best wishes to you & Joe and to Jack for a happy and healthy new year. I’m praying for PEACE in 2023. xoxox love Coco

    • sbranch says:

      That picture of me holding my parent’s hands was taken on my dad’s 60th birthday, so I guess I’m around 37 ~ just before I met Joe. So proud holding their hands; I can see it in my face. And my mom turned 16 the February before I was born. I was born in April, so my mom is likely just around 17, wishing I would walk, which I did not do until I was a year old! My brother, next in line, walked at 8 months!!! I will keep in mind your suggestion for dark numbers!!! Thank you for telling me! xoxoxo ♥️♥️♥️

      • MargotB in Navarre says:

        Great suggestion about bigger or darker numbers. Aging eyes 👀 here. 🤓 I do not love these glasses.

        Still unpacking and doing some shell 🐚 ing too.

        Hugs 🤗

  49. Cathy from Golden, CO says:

    What a special gift you are to me and so many of us. LOVE this blog. LOVE the mentions of our mothers. My 100 yo father’s body is giving up. So wish my mama was here with me. Know she is watching over. HAPPY NEW YEAR to you and Joe. XO XO XO

    • sbranch says:

      They stay alive with us. I always loved my girlfriend’s mothers!!! That’s how you knew you had a BFF!💖 Love to you and your time with your Dad. Hugs xoxoxo

  50. Jane Schlosser says:

    You just warm my heart every time I read your blog! Some concern tho…..I just went to order my 2022 wall calendar. Out of stock! Breathe just breathe….are more coming in? I have all your calendars and realize I could dig out my 2006 as I see the days are the same as 2023. Haha

    • sbranch says:

      I think 2017 too … because no, sadly, that’s the end of the 2023 wall calendars . . . they went very fast this year! We still have mini calendars, the big desk-top calendars, and the one for purses, but now more wall calendars. xoxoxo

      • Coco says:

        Hi Susan,

        NEVER MIND!

        I sent a link a couple of hours ago to a site that still let me order your 2023 wall calendar. This same site worked for me last year, when I was also running so behind on Christmas that I forgot to buy calendars until too late, and I did land your 2022 wall calendar. But I just got a cancellation notice that they are unable to fulfill my order for the 2023 one. So never mind on posting that dead-end link.

        Happy I can still get all the other sizes, I love the mini and the purse ones. I always buy the wall one, but really struggle to see the date numbers, especially in “light paint color” months.

        Your February, 2022 wall calendar page of Beatrix Potter is the most beautiful ever… have you thought of putting those paintings on your next mug? Gorgeousness!

        Best wishes for a healthy, happy, lovely new year!
        xoxox love Coco

        • sbranch says:

          Thank you for trying Coco … lots of people are asking me! But I’ve had no luck either. I’ll think about that cup… good idea! Happy new year!

  51. suzanne ludwic says:

    Thank you, thank you! I finally have time to sit and enjoy this! I feel that I MUST recommend an old movie for you, also. It ends on Christmas day so it kind of is a holiday film. It’s called, “Since you Went Away” with Claudette Colbert, Jennifer Jones, and a teen aged Shirley Temple. It takes place during WW2 on the homefront, is filled with beautiful 40’s decor, and is just a lovely story about those who kept the home fires burning for our soldiers. It’s my yearly Christmas film! I also watched”Planes, Trains and Automobiles” this year which had me laughing out loud more than any other film I can remember. I mean, with John Candy and Steve Martin, how can it miss! Not sentimental but if you need a belly laugh, this will fill the bill! Happy New Year, Susan !

    • sbranch says:

      I haven’t seen Planes trains and automobiles, so I will check that out! Who doesn’t need a belly laugh!

  52. Kay Amhaus says:

    Happy Holidays and a stupendous New Year to you, Joe and Jack, Susan. I’ve enjoyed, and look forward to, reading your newsletters for so long now.

  53. Sophie T says:

    Thank you for this delightful post! Happy Holidays and a wonderful New Year to you and Joe and Jack!

  54. Tanya says:

    We’ve been needing christmas movie suggestions! ..I’ll make note of them for next year, thank you!:) Is that a quilted ironing board cover? How cute! ..I’ve never seen that:) Thanks for all the shining light you share:) Hugs, Tanya:)

    • sbranch says:

      Yes I found that ironing board cover, made from an old quilt, at an antique store. It looks like it would be very easy to make if you have an old quilt you’d like to get more use from!

  55. JoAnn in California says:

    My dad (96) died before Christmas, so this holiday was different than all years past. Our large family gathered for the funeral Mass and hugged, cried, sang, and prayed together. Grandsons were pallbearers and granddaughters did the readings. Beautiful. Piercing. Hold those you love close at this year’s end.

    • sbranch says:

      Oh dear JoAnn, such a loss, that touchingly true quote comes to mind as it did with my mom and dad, “You can never make up for the loss of one who has loved you.” Those hugs, so different than any others. The funeral sounds so beautiful … to have you all together to celebrate his life. Such a profound connection. Blessings to you and yours and for the Memories in 2023. ♥️♥️♥️

  56. Marilyn says:

    Wishing you and yours a 2023 filled with love,happiness and blessings. God Bless.
    Joan,Marion and Marilyn

  57. Linda E. Riesenbeck says:

    Thank you so much for your latest December post! I always get a warm and cozy feeling when I read your stories, kind of like the feeling I get when I read your wonderful books! I had the pleasure of meeting you several years ago at a book signing in Cincinnati, Ohio at the Joseph Beth Bookstore in Hyde Park, Ohio. A memorable day for me! In your latest post, I enjoyed seeing the list of your favorite Christmas movies. I like a lot of the same movies, but wanted to recommend a couple in case you don’t know about them. My first recommendation is called “Remember the Night” filmed in 1940, starring Barbara Stanwyck, Fred McMurray and Beulah Bondi. It’s a wonderful, feel good movie! Stanwyck’s “Christmas in Connecticut” is also a favorite. A 1942 classic called “The Man Who Came to Dinner” with Bette Davis and Monty Wolley is also fun. Bette also starred in a lovely movie called “Winter Meeting” in 1948. Last but not least, I highly recommend Tasha Tudor’s “A Corgi Cottage Christmas.” It’s a beautiful film documenting the amazing Vermont life of Tasha Tudor and her special Christmas traditions. It is truly one of my all time favorites. Again, thank you for your lovely Christmas post and I look forward to seeing what you’ll do in 2023. I’m a huge fan!
    Warm regards,
    Linda Riesenbeck

  58. Lori Hamilton says:

    Oh my! I have missed your last two blogs because I didn’t get the email alerts!! I don’t know what happened but missed the autumn auction as well….sad. I just resubscribed so maybe this won’t happen again.
    Thank you for the wonderful blog with all the little extras…..cake recipe, bookmarks and just the lovely photos.
    Yes, there is a lot of GOOD around and we don’t have to drown in the negative voices of crazy out there. I just ordered a Gladys Taber novel and Olivia Hussey’s “The Girl on the Balcony” and plan to brew a cuppa tea, put on flannel jammies and indulge in a reading binge. That right there is my hygge!
    Love you, your words of comfort and joy and look forward to a new Queen Elizabeth cup next year.

  59. Sharrie says:

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
    We are still celebrating the fun and joy of Christmas.

    My sweetie put up Christmas lights outside the kitchen window just today so I can see them outside as we haven’t had outside lights yet this Christmas (the older strands we had out just would not work).

    It’s been a hard candy Christmas the last, two years so we are finding joy in little things and enjoying the lights and the company of family. We usually celebrate through Little Christmas each season and it may be even a bit longer as we do enjoy the colorful lights,

  60. MargotB in Navarre says:

    The world 🌎 goes on with coffee cake and a good cup of coffee/tea. Around the table discussion or we used to say visiting. Those certainly are good old movies! Watched a few this Christmas.
    Still unpacking…
    Hugs to you and Joe and little Poirot,
    Margot B

  61. Karen Wills says:

    I absolutely love your blog, especially this entry. Thank-you so much for this, and all you do.


  62. Marcia L Bent says:

    Inspired by all that do: Just had to write this..
    Keeping a kind HEART
    alongside a steady HAND,
    Doing ALL your chores…
    Pondering ALL your thoughts…
    Delighting in ALL your creative endeavors…
    Will surely give to this WORLD,
    Droplets of Abundant LOVE.
    We all know it does!!! XXOO

  63. Lenora Kirby says:

    Thank you for reviewing THE DICTIONARY of LOST WORDS, by Pip Williams. I loved it! Lenora Kirby

  64. Darla Unger says:

    We had the Snippy Doodle with Pork Chops, Stuffing and Sweet Potatoes it was great!! Thank you for the recipe. As always loved your blog.

  65. Denise Hyde says:

    And we enjoyed another fantastic gathering with you and the Enchanted Book Club via Zoom!!!! Thanks so much for a great New Year kick-off!!!!!

  66. Maria Whitaker says:

    I enjoyed your visit with the Enchanted Book Shop and the discussion about traditions we do to celebrate the season. I keep electric candles burning in my windows from the weekend after Thanksgiving through January 6. For over 20 years my morning commute was in the dark and ended over 12 hours later in the dark evening. Driving down country roads especially in the early morning hours, I always appreciated seeing homes that were burning lights on bushes or in the windows. It felt like joyous people were saying hello to me. Now that I have retired, I make sure to keep the lights burning for those people driving through the dark, working long hours. I want to say, “Hello! Thank you for what you do, and Merry Christmas!”

    • sbranch says:

      What a kind thought! I’m sure you are appreciated! I still love seeing Christmas lights when we’re out!

  67. Melin says:

    Dear sweet Susan,
    I enjoyed the the zoom talk so, so much. It was so intimate, I nodded and gestured at you, as if you, me and Haley were the only ones there. Don’t get me wrong, I love all the other girlfriends too. 💕
    My two best SB girlfriends, Linda Howard & Jane McVey couldn’t make it, so I forwarded it to them.
    I L💕VE the “Ah friends, dear friends…” quote on the blog! Thank so much for making our world a bit brighter and warmer, just by being YOU!
    Isn’t Hayley the cutest! She looks like an angel.
    Happy New Year,

  68. Sharon Anderson says:

    Thank you for sharing the full moon bookmark every year. I love it and always send one to my sister.

    The Dictionary of Lost Words – I read it several months ago and love that is was inspired by true events. It was a very original kind of story – and thought provoking. The power of words to shape minds and shape the world. I really loved this book.

  69. Carol Lynch says:

    As always, I so loved your newsletter! Just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed The Dictionary of Lost Words – could not put it down! So good! Also got the movie The Christmas Carol from my favorite place in the world – my library!! And I got your newest book Distilled Genius- what a great way to put all your quotes and your enormous collection of other quotes all together- it is a real treasure. Kind of like creating a dictionary- just like the book! Love how you make all your books so enjoyable with all your drawings and quotes.I always read them but I do love to just sit and turn the pages – you are sooooo talented in everything you do! Also got this from my library but do want to buy it when the price goes down. You mention so many things in your blog and this last one was full of good things to read and watch! Thanks for being you!! God’s blessings to you, Joe and Jack who is so stinkin’ cute!

  70. Beth Schaffer says:

    I’m rereading again. I can’t get enough of the words you seem to spill out so craftily on paper. I movie I really love and just watched again just the other night , ok, yes a few weeks after Xmas is called “If You Believe” w/Ally Walker (was in the soap opera Santa Barbara ). Did anyone mention “It Happened on 5th Avenue ?

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Beth … I love doing them, I’m so happy you enjoy them! I’ve not seen If You Believe, will have to look it up! It Happened on 5th Avenue ~ so cute!

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