Packages from Publishers


I’ve never had a disappointing package from a publisher. (Disappointing rejection letters, yes, but no one has ever sent me a rejection package.) Even when I’ve seen all of the illustrations in advance for a picture book, and even if I’ve seen a previous version of the book itself, it’s always exciting to peel open an envelope and pull out an advance copy.

In this case, my package contained the new board book version of Old Manhattan Has Some Farms from Charlesbridge, slated for release in spring. It feels great to have a new (old) book hitting the shelves again.

To Your Perfect Porridge!

Isn’t this New Year’s card from illustrator Terry Lim Diefenbach lovely? I look at what she can create with layers of paper and am embarrassed to admit that I can’t even cut wrapping paper without a leaving a jagged edge.

And how about her wizardry in transforming the shadow of the house and chimney into the outline of a Christmas tree?

Even without Terry’s artistry, I can join her in the wish that each of us, indeed, receives just the right porridge this year, whatever that porridge may be.

Christmas Eve Angel


On Christmas Eve I’d like to share with you this lovely angel from a card my friend Susan sent me in 1997. While I cannot look at a picture like this and name the era, I know that styles change and an angel drawn nearly two decades ago will probably be different than angels drawn today. So enjoy this winged beauty from the past and enjoy your Christmas tomorrow.

Merry Christmas


Out of this World


While nostalgia usually edges out modernity at Christmas, there are exceptions. When I worked at a science-oriented non-profit several years ago, the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center sent me this card of Earth and Moon ornaments. Isn’t the Moon’s shadow on Earth a wonderful touch?

I also received this gift-wrapped planet from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Placing a world suspended in space on white linen and blue ribbon is sheer genius. space-smithsonian

My sister acknowledged the “spacey” side of my personality when she once sent me this Astronaut Santa card. Note how the electronic equipment on his suit is also

And I confess that I am the one who picked out cosmic Christmas paper for wrapping gifts this year.

So however far afield your own thoughts or travels take you, have yourself an out of this world holiday season.

Photo Bombed

So my sister sent me the perfect Christmas card for Post Whistle. It has stamps. It has glitter (even if you can’t see it in this photo). It has postmarks. It even lists stamp denominations in pence for that British touch. Naturally, I posed the card in front of the tree for a picture.

Even more naturally, my cat strolled over to investigate.

He clawed the carpet a little to get comfortable…

He sniffed the card…

He knocked it over.

Home photo studios are a challenge.


12 Days of Christmas


While the 12 Days of Christmas actually refer to the days AFTER December 25th, I like to think of the song as a final countdown to the big day. Over the years, I have been sent several beautiful cards that reference the carol, but I notice all like to focus on the beginning — the partridge in a pear tree. Where are the eight maids a-milking or six geese a-laying? Instead, I have this exquisite bird and greyhound, reminiscent of a 15th century tapestry.

An Anne Geddes baby shot: 12-days-of-christmas-2

and a foil-trimmed version from my mom and dad:12-days-of-christmas-2-1

And then, there’s this southwestern motif. I know those are quail — and that there are two of them — next to a cactus. Still, it could be a decorated prickly pear, and I don’t mind a quail standing in for its European cousin. prickley-pear

And for a refresher course on all 12 verses: 12-days-of-christmas-2-2

Cool Cats Kringle


I love, Love, LOVE this 80s card from my sister, Sherrie! From the punk hair and Catasonic boom box to the Cats Fifth Avenue shopping bag, this cat exemplifies its era and stands out from the cards with perennial scenes of cozy cottages and snowmen. It shouts (yowls) its contemporary spirit, one that feels amusingly retro some 30-odd years later.

But then cards aren’t designed for the ages. Each folded bit of cardboard in its flimsy envelope is meant to be opened and enjoyed for a moment, displayed for a week or two, then tossed out with the crumpled Christmas wrappings when the season ends. Saving such a card is akin to tucking away a time capsule. You may not remember the gifts you received or the holiday TV specials watched, but the flavor of the era remains.

The card also reminds me of my own cats in the 80s, complete with high tech electronic flea collars and a bit of tinsel                                          Mickey 3 and Piwacket

First of the Season

Today was the moment. I opened my mailbox, and there they were — hand-addressed envelopes tucked among the bills and year end charity appeals for donations.

The first Christmas cards of the season have arrived.

My reading group coordinator, Phoebe, sent me an old-fashioned toy shop scene (or as she described it, “a sparkly card for you”) that glints and glimmers in the light. Dorothy, hostess of my writing group, chose a notecard with a Jane Austen quote: “A person who can write a long letter with ease, cannot write ill.” From your pen to the muse’s ear, Jane!

I wonder whose will be next?

Christmas Shopping


When did Christmas shopping become a chore to complain about or a campaign to begin strategizing around Thanksgiving? If only it could consist of a small (already decorated!) tree and a couple of baskets of dolls as in this delightful card from my friend, Andrea.

Maybe it’s because we feel we have to find gifts for a list of people for whom we’ve been buying gifts for decades, and we have simply run out of ideas. And because money usually IS an object, we can’t just blithely order gold-tipped fountain pens or Tiffany pendants. (Or maybe gift-buying would still be a problem if we could buy anything, because then our recipients would already have everything).

It seems so much easier when buying for children. Every stuffed animal is a wonder; every small whiz bang toy a delight. I remember one year when my daughter fell in love with a decorated gum ball a friend of mine gave her as a casual additional gift. She thought it the BEST THING EVER, far superior to most of her more expensive, and even requested, presents.

Let’s hope for a few inspired gum balls in the gifts we distribute this year and perhaps a flash of that wonder when we unwrap our own packages this holiday season. Remember, everyone out there is trying to be a good Santa’s helper.

I’ll leave you with this photo of my mom and her mom and a crazy big doll that I like to imagine was her favorite toy one holiday season.


                                      Carlyn & Selma