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Al Young Studios Newsroom
Christmas Articles


Christmas issues of The Storybook Home Journal

By Nancy Young


These are the Christmas issues of The Storybook Home Journal, each of which is available directly from the Studios on the main product page for the Journal:... Read more »

Tags: Vol. 1 No. 1, Vol. 2 No. 1, Vol. 3 No. 1, Vol. 4 No. 1, Vol. 5 No. 1, Vol. 6 No. 1, Vol. 7 No. 1, Vol. 8 No. 1, Vol. 9 No. 1, Vol. 10 No. 1, Vol. 11 No. 1, Vol. 12 No. 1, Vol. 13 No. 2, Vol. 14 No. 2, Vol. 15 No. 1, Vol. 16 No. 1, Vol. 17...


Forgotten Films: Holiday (1938) and The Late George Apley (1947

By Nancy Young

 In the post-Christmas and early January days of eating, shopping, and watching bowl games and parades, two films are well worth chancing after your favorite team has been knocked out of contention or the computation of how many daisies, roses, and gardenias went into making barge-sized parade floats just doesn't hold your interest. Both films are holiday-ish, without being overtly so, and therefore tuck very neatly into the after-Christmas days—particularly since they're all about happiness being more important than money (something it's good to remember when all the funds vanished under the Christmas tree)... Read more »

Tags: 2013, Christmas, Forgotten Films, Holidays, Recommended viewing


St. Lucia Day, sweet and bright

By Al R. Young
My husband Al's two years in Scandinavia when a young man provided him, among other things, with three imperishable predilections: a love of  light, of warmth and of cardamom.  So St. Lucia's Day, when light wins out over darkness and the warmth of flame re-emerges--and almost as important, when there's cardamom-spiked bread for breakfast--we like to take advantage of the concept.

When Elspeth was young (pictured right), we dressed her in full Lucia regalia and made the more traditional saffron-scented "Lucia Cats," sometimes even taking them about the neighborhood; but now we observe the tradition by making loaf-sized Lucias, use the slightly less traditional cardamom flavoring, and gobble them up all day long... Read more »

Tags: Vol. 14 No. 1, 2013, Beauty and home, Bread making, Christmas, Holidays


Black Friday and dark chocolate

By Nancy Young
We liked this Victorian summation of Christmas shopping, above, from an 1876 etching reflecting the fact that nothing much about the urge for bouts of seasonal spending has changed in 137 years.  The poem that originally accompanied it, spoke of  "shopping, shop, shop, shopping," until everyone was "dropping, drop, drop, dropping."  And that was even before "shop, shop, shopping" already commenced as soon as the pumpkin pie had been served up on Thanksgiving Day, and Black Friday became a synonym for a make-or-break Holiday business season... Read more »

Tags: Vol. 14 No. 1, 2013, Christmas, Holidays, Recipes by Nancy Young


Forgotten Films: Batchelor Mother (1939) and Pocketful of Miracles (1961)

By Nancy Young
 Everyone has at least one must-watch holiday film that heightens anticipation, enlivens the season, and simply speaks Christmas to the heart--and most of us probably have several.  This pair of "Forgotten Films" is less about  paving the way to Christmas morning, then about traveling the sometimes flat days after Christmas, when watching spirits visit Scrooge or angels visit George Bailey suddenly seem part of an exciting past that sadly won't return for another three-hundred-and-sixty-something days... Read more »

Tags: 2011, Christmas, Forgotten Films, Recommended viewing


An abridged Hans Brinker Christmastide countdown

By Nancy Young
Traditionally our St. Nicholas celebrations have included fat loaves of grattiman (also known as grittibanz in some parts of Switzerland) and when the children were little the writing of letters to Santa to be picked up as he made his St. Nicholas rounds across the planet. But  even when there's no time or inclinations for such activities, there's still a part of St. Nicholas festivities that can fit in whatever the demands of the day--the commencement of a seasonal read of one our favorite tales, Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates by Mary Mapes Dodge... Read more »

Tags: 2011, Christmas, Recommended reading


Heidi's Christmas carols

By Elspeth C. Young
Christmas isn't Christmas without inspiring music, and Heidi's Christmas just wasn't complete without a carol arrangement.  Any reader of Heidi knows that carols are never specifically mentioned within the book, but Spyri left ample clues as to her own hymn favorites, and it was just a small step from there to choosing Heidi's very own Christmas carol.  Though every translation I've ever seen of Heidi seems to choose different hymns and poetry to replace Johanna Spyri's original choices for the Grandmother's "old prayer-book with beautiful songs," looking at the original German, Spyri was very specific in her choices... Read more »

Tags: 2011, Christmas, Music


Christmas is coming!

By Nancy Young
Heidi's Christmas is almost here!  We're just putting the finishing touches on this latest issue of The Storybook Home Journal, featuring the delights and magic of a Christmas on the Alm.  While you're waiting, mix up a batch of Cup O' Cocoa Cake Batter and bake away!  You can use some left-over hot chocolate or cocoa from one of these cold autumn evenings as the third of a cup of "very dark cocoa" called for in the recipe, or use the equivalent as listed below... Read more »

Tags: Vol. 12 No. 1, 2011, Christmas, Recipes by Nancy Young


Hand-painted candles

By Al R. Young The Hearth article in this year's Christmas issue of The Storybook Home Journal featured hand-painted candles inspired by Dickens' novella, The Battle of Life and The Pickwick Papers. We simply couldn't resist the idea of personalizing candles to brighten Christmas and the coming year (besides, they made marvelous Christmas gifts!). The article provides detailed visual and verbal instructions for creating candles embellished with mistletoe, sweetbrier, and delicate Christmas greenery... Read more »

Tags: 2010, Christmas, Hand crafts, Holidays


Cheeryble Cherry Sauce

By Nancy Young
Total palate recall may be less than perfect, but this cherry sauce—served up with baked ham at many a memorable holiday meal during my childhood—comes close. Though my mother has long since lost the original recipe, here's a happy (and quickly whipped up!) approximation that satisfied even my discriminating siblings at this year's family Christmas party. Serve it warm with anything from ham and pork roast to ice cream or French toast.

In keeping with our Dickens Christmas, we've christened it after two of Dickens' most delightful characters, the Cheeryble brothers, from Nicholas Nickleby... Read more »

Tags: 2010, Christmas, Holidays, Recipes by Nancy Young


The Bird's Christmas Carol by Kate Douglas Wiggin

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Nancy Young

The Birds' Christmas Carol by Kate Douglas Wiggin is a tender, sentimental Christmas story about the Bird family. They are a wealthy, but caring family, who would seem to have all that could be wished. Their daughter, Carol, however, is an invalid. The family secures for her all the best care and they lavish upon her truly thoughtful attentions, but she is dying. The story recounts her final Christmas wish to give a poor family, in the neighborhood, a sense of Christmas magic... Read more »

Tags: Vol. 8 No. 1, 2010, Book reviews, Christmas