Text of Plan #938
  WEEK 52  


The Children's Book of Christmas Stories  by Asa Don Dickinson

Christmas in the Barn

O NLY two more days and Christmas would be here! It had been snowing hard, and Johnny was standing at the window, looking at the soft, white snow which covered the ground half a foot deep. Presently he heard the noise of wheels coming up the road, and a wagon turned in at the gate and came past the window. Johnny was very curious to know what the wagon could be bringing. He pressed his little nose close to the cold window pane, and to his great surprise, saw two large Christmas-trees. Johnny wondered why there were two  trees, and turned quickly to run and tell mamma all about it; but then remembered that mamma was not at home. She had gone to the city to buy some Christmas presents and would not return until quite late. Johnny began to feel that his toes and fingers had grown quite cold from standing at the window so long; so he drew his own little chair up to the cheerful grate fire and sat there quietly thinking. Pussy, who had been curled up like a little bundle of wool, in the very warmest corner, jumped up, and, going to Johnny, rubbed her head against his knee to attract his attention. He patted her gently and began to talk to her about what was in his thoughts.

He had been puzzling over the two  trees which had come, and at last had made up his mind about them. "I know now, Pussy," said he, "why there are two trees. This morning when I kissed Papa good-bye at the gate he said he was going to buy one for me, and mamma, who was busy in the house, did not hear him say so; and I am sure she must have bought the other. But what shall we do with two Christmas-trees?"

Pussy jumped into his lap and purred and purred. A plan suddenly flashed into Johnny's mind. "Would you like to have one, Pussy?" Pussy purred more loudly, and it seemed almost as though she had said yes.

"Oh! I will, I will! if mamma will let me. I'll have a Christmas-tree out in the barn for you, Pussy, and for all the pets; and then you'll all be as happy as I shall be with my tree in the parlour."

By this time it had grown quite late. There was a ring at the door-bell; and quick as a flash Johnny ran, with happy, smiling face, to meet papa and mamma and gave them each a loving kiss. During the evening he told them all that he had done that day and also about the two big trees which the man had brought. It was just as Johnny had thought. Papa and mamma had each bought one, and as it was so near Christmas they thought they would not send either of them back. Johnny was very glad of this, and told them of the happy plan he had made and asked if he might have the extra tree. Papa and mamma smiled a little as Johnny explained his plan but they said he might have the tree, and Johnny went to bed feeling very happy.

That night his papa fastened the tree into a block of wood so that it would stand firmly and then set it in the middle of the barn floor. The next day when Johnny had finished his lessons he went to the kitchen, and asked Annie, the cook, if she would save the bones and potato parings and all other leavings from the day's meals and give them to him the following morning. He also begged her to give him several cupfuls of salt and cornmeal, which she did, putting them in paper bags for him. Then she gave him the dishes he asked for—a few chipped ones not good enough to be used at table—and an old wooden bowl. Annie wanted to know what Johnny intended to do with all these things, but he only said: "Wait until to-morrow, then you shall see." He gathered up all the things which the cook had given him and carried them to the barn, placing them on a shelf in one corner, where he was sure no one would touch them and where they would be all ready for him to use the next morning.

Christmas morning came, and, as soon as he could, Johnny hurried out to the barn, where stood the Christmas-tree which he was going to trim for all his pets. The first thing he did was to get a paper bag of oats; this he tied to one of the branches of the tree, for Brownie the mare. Then he made up several bundles of hay and tied these on the other side of the tree, not quite so high up, where White Face, the cow, could reach them; and on the lowest branches some more hay for Spotty, the calf.

Next Johnny hurried to the kitchen to get the things Annie had promised to save for him. She had plenty to give. With his arms and hands full he went back to the barn. He found three "lovely" bones with plenty of meat on them; these he tied together to another branch of the tree, for Rover, his big black dog. Under the tree he placed the big wooden bowl, and filled it well with potato parings, rice, and meat, left from yesterday's dinner; this was the "full and tempting trough" for Piggywig. Near this he placed a bowl of milk for Pussy, on one plate the salt for the pet lamb, and on another the cornmeal for the dear little chickens. On the top of the tree he tied a basket of nuts; these were for his pet squirrel; and I had almost forgotten to tell you of the bunch of carrots tied very low down where soft white Bunny could reach them.

When all was done, Johnny stood off a little way to look at this wonderful Christmas-tree. Clapping his hands with delight, he ran to call papa and mamma and Annie, and they laughed aloud when they saw what he had done. It was the funniest Christmas-tree they had ever seen. They were sure the pets would like the presents Johnny had chosen.

Then there was a busy time in the barn. Papa and mamma and Annie helped about bringing in the animals, and before long, Brownie, White Face, Spotty, Rover, Piggywig, Pussy, Lambkin, the chickens, the squirrel and Bunny, the rabbit, had been led each to his own Christmas breakfast on and under the tree. What a funny sight it was to see them all standing around looking happy and contented, eating and drinking with such an appetite!

While watching them Johnny had another thought, and he ran quickly to the house, and brought out the new trumpet which papa had given him for Christmas. By this time the animals had all finished their breakfast and Johnny gave a little toot on his trumpet as a signal that the tree festival was over. Brownie went, neighing and prancing, to her stall, White Face walked demurely off with a bellow, which Spotty, the calf, running at her heels, tried to imitate; the little lamb skipped bleating away; Piggywig walked off with a grunt; Pussy jumped on the fence with a mew; the squirrel still sat up in the tree cracking her nuts; Bunny hopped to her snug little quarters; while Rover, barking loudly, chased the chickens back to their coop. Such a hubbub of noises! Mamma said it sounded as if they were trying to say "Merry Christmas to you, Johnny! Merry Christmas to all."

— Frances Arnstein


The Friendly Beasts

Jesus our brother, kind and good,

Was humbly born in a stable rude,

And the friendly beasts around Him stood,

Jesus our brother, kind and good.

"I," said the donkey, shaggy and brown,

"I carried His mother up hill and down,

I carried her safely to Bethlehem town;

I," said the donkey, shaggy and brown.

"I," said the cow all white and red,

"I gave Him my manger for His bed,

I gave Him my hay to pillow His head.

I," said the cow all white and red.

"I," said the sheep with curly horn,

"I gave Him my wool for His blanket warm;

He wore my coat on Christmas morn;

I," said the sheep with curly horn.

"I," said the dove, from the rafters high,

"I cooed Him to sleep so He would not cry;

We cooed him to sleep, my mate and I;

I," said the dove from the rafters high.

Thus every beast by some good spell,

In the stable dark was glad to tell,

Of the gift he gave Immanuel,

The gift he gave Immanuel.


  WEEK 52  


Bobby and the Big Road  by Maud Lindsay

Christmas Morning

E ARLY Christmas morning Bobby waked up to find a stocking full of goodies hanging by the fireplace, and on a table near by a paint-box and a tool-chest and a little white note.


Bobby found a stocking full of goodies.

"Read it quick," begged Bobby, hopping about with one shoe off and one shoe on.

So Mother read:


"Merry Christmas! There is a present for somebody out here in the barn, and it isn't for me, though I like it. I think it is for you. Come and see.

"Your loving friend,        

Bobby's other shoe went on in a hurry then, and if you had seen him running to the barn you would have agreed with his father that he was Bobby Nimble-toes.

But when he got to the barn door he stopped and peeped in as if he had never seen the place before. There was the hay that Father had bought from the farmer stored away in one corner of the barn, and there was Greylocks looking out from his stall with kindly eyes, but where was the present?

Bobby was just going into the barn to look for it when something big and black came bounding out to meet him. A dog! A big, beautiful, curly, black Newfoundland dog.

"Oh, oh, oh! Is he really mine? Where did you get him? I'd rather have him than anything else," said Bobby, running to hug Mother and Father, who had followed him to the barn.

The Newfoundland dog had a collar around his neck with his name on it: "Playmate." Bobby thought Playmate was a splendid name for a dog. "Why, I like it better than I do Towser," he said.

Christmas Day was full of surprises. Bobby was still exclaiming with delight over his pet when the milkman drove up to the door with a jar of cream for Bobby's Christmas breakfast.

"I haven't forgotten the cool water he gave me in the summer time," he said.

The milkman was scarcely out of sight when the farmer's hired man came with a sack of red apples for Bobby from the farmer.

And after the hired man had gone the old lady and gentleman drove up to the gate.

"Here is a Christmas cake for our kind little friend," they said.

The jolly chauffeur was the next to come. He brought a box of candy from Florence.

"It is for Robert Lee Randolph, Junior, and Bobby both, so be sure to divide between them," he said.

The chauffeur was really the funniest man that Bobby had ever known.

Bobby had presents for Florence and Johnny, a paint-box like his own for each of them, and he sent Florence hers by the chauffeur.

When they had eaten their Christmas dinner Mother and Father and Bobby took Johnny his present. And what do you think? Playmate went, too, sitting up straight and tall in the bottom of the buggy!

The north wind was blowing through the bare branches of the trees as they drove along, and the sky overhead was misty and grey.

"Something else is coming to the Big Road," said Father.

And sure enough when they had given Johnny the paint-box, and Greylocks was hurrying to get them home again, little white snowflakes began to fall. By the time they got home the ground was white.

Oh, how pleasant it was to live by the Big Road all the year round!



An Old English Carol

Sing high, sing low,

Sing to and fro,

Go tell it out with speed,

Cry out and shout,

All round about,

That Christ is born indeed!


  WEEK 52  


For the Children's Hour  by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey


I T was the night the dear Christ Child came to Bethlehem. In a country far away from Him, an old, old woman named Babouscka sat in her snug little house by her warm fire. The wind was drifting the snow outside and howling down the chimney, but it only made Babouscka's fire burn more brightly.

"How glad I am that I may stay indoors!" said Babouscka, holding her hands out to the bright blaze.

But suddenly she heard a loud rap at her door. She opened it and her candle shone on three old men standing outside in the snow. Their beards were as white as the snow, and so long that they reached the ground. Their eyes shone kindly in the light of Babouscka's candle, and their arms were full of precious things—boxes of jewels, and sweet-smelling oils, and ointments.

"We traveled far, Babouscka," they said, "and we stop to tell you of the Baby Prince born this night in Bethlehem. He comes to rule the world and teach all men to be loving and true. We carry Him gifts. Come with us, Babouscka!"

But Babouscka looked at the driving snow, and then inside at her cozy room and the crackling fire. "It is too late for me to go with you, good sirs," she said, "the weather is too cold." She went inside again and shut the door, and the old men journeyed on to Bethlehem without her. But as Babouscka sat by her fire, rocking, she began to think about the little Christ Child, for she loved all babies.

"To-morrow I will go to find Him," she said; "to-morrow, when it is light, and I will carry Him some toys."

So when it was morning Babouscka put on her long cloak, and took her staff, and filled a basket with the pretty things a baby would like—gold balls, and wooden toys, and strings of silver cobwebs—and she set out to find the Christ Child.

But, ho! Babouscka had forgotten to ask the three old men the road to Bethlehem, and they had traveled so far through the night that she could not overtake them. Up and down the roads she hurried, through woods and fields and towns, saying to whomsoever she met: "I go to find the Christ Child. Where does He lie? I bring some pretty toys for His sake."

But no one could tell her the way to go, and they all said: "Farther on, Babouscka, farther on." So she traveled on, and on, and on for years and years—but she never found the little Christ Child.

They say that old Babouscka is traveling still, looking for Him. When it comes Christmas eve, and the children are lying fast asleep, Babouscka comes softly through the snowy fields and towns, wrapped in her long cloak and carrying her basket on her arm. With her staff she raps gently at the doors and goes inside and holds her candle close to the little children's faces.

"Is He here?" she asks. "Is the little Christ Child here?" And then she turns sorrowfully away again, crying: "Farther on, farther on." But before she leaves, she takes a toy from her basket and lays it beside the pillow for a Christmas gift. "For His sake," she says softly and then hurries on through the years and forever in search of the little Christ Child.

— Adapted from the Russian legend
by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey

Frances Chesterton

How Far Is It to Bethlehem?

How far is it to Bethlehem?

Not very far.

Shall we find the stable-room

Lit by a star?

Can we see the little Child?

Is He within?

If we lift the wooden latch,

May we go in?

May we stroke the creatures there—

Ox, ass, or sheep?

May we peep like them and see

Jesus asleep?

If we touch His tiny hand,

Will He awake?

Will He know we've come so far

Just for His sake?

Great kings have precious gifts,

And we have naught;

Little smiles and little tears

Are all we brought.

For all weary children

Mary must weep;

Here, on His bed of straw,

Sleep, children, sleep.

God, in His mother's arms,

Babes in the byre,

Sleep, as they sleep who find

Their heart's desire.


  WEEK 52  


The Children's Book of Christmas Stories  by Asa Don Dickinson

A Christmas Star

"C OME now, my dear little stars," said Mother Moon, "and I will tell you the Christmas story."

Every morning for a week before Christmas, Mother Moon used to call all the little stars around her and tell them a story.

It was always the same story, but the stars never wearied of it. It was the story of the Christmas star—the Star of Bethlehem.

When Mother Moon had finished the story the little stars always said: "And the star is shining still, isn't it, Mother Moon, even if we can't see it?"

And Mother Moon would answer: "Yes, my dears, only now it shines for men's hearts instead of their eyes."

Then the stars would bid the Mother Moon good-night and put on their little blue nightcaps and go to bed in the sky chamber; for the stars' bedtime is when people down on the earth are beginning to waken and see that it is morning.

But that particular morning when the little stars said good-night and went quietly away, one golden star still lingered beside Mother Moon.

"What is the matter, my little star?" asked the Mother Moon. "Why don't you go with your little sisters?"

"Oh, Mother Moon," said the golden star. "I am so sad! I wish I could shine for some one's heart like that star of wonder that you tell us about."

"Why, aren't you happy up here in the sky country?" asked Mother Moon.

"Yes, I have been very happy," said the star; "but to-night it seems just as if I must find some heart to shine for."

"Then if that is so," said Mother Moon, "the time has come, my little star, for you to go through the Wonder Entry."

"The Wonder Entry? What is that?" asked the star. But the Mother Moon made no answer.

Rising, she took the little star by the hand and led it to a door that it had never seen before.

The Mother Moon opened the door, and there was a long dark entry; at the far end was shining a little speck of light.

"What is this?" asked the star.

"It is the Wonder Entry; and it is through this that you must go to find the heart where you belong," said the Mother Moon.

Then the little star was afraid.

It longed to go through the entry as it had never longed for anything before; and yet it was afraid and clung to the Mother Moon.

But very gently, almost sadly, the Mother Moon drew her hand away. "Go, my child," she said.

Then, wondering and trembling, the little star stepped into the Wonder Entry, and the door of the sky house closed behind it.

The next thing the star knew it was hanging in a toy shop with a whole row of other stars blue and red and silver. It itself was gold. The shop smelled of evergreen, and was full of Christmas shoppers, men and women and children; but of them all, the star looked at no one but a little boy standing in front of the counter; for as soon as the star saw the child it knew that he was the one to whom it belonged.

The little boy was standing beside a sweet-faced woman in a long black veil and he was not looking at anything in particular.

The star shook and trembled on the string that held it, because it was afraid lest the child would not see it, or lest, if he did, he would not know it as his star.

The lady had a number of toys on the counter before her, and she was saying: "Now I think we have presents for every one: There's the doll for Lou, and the game for Ned, and the music box for May; and then the rocking horse and the sled."

Suddenly the little boy caught her by the arm. "Oh, mother," he said. He had seen the star.

"Well, what is it, darling?" asked the lady.

"Oh, mother, just see that star up there! I wish—oh, I do wish I had it."

"Oh, my dear, we have so many things for the Christmas-tree," said the mother.

"Yes, I know, but I do want the star," said the child.

"Very well," said the mother, smiling; "then we will take that, too."

So the star was taken down from the place where it hung and wrapped up in a piece of paper, and all the while it thrilled with joy, for now it belonged to the little boy.

It was not until the afternoon before Christmas, when the tree was being decorated, that the golden star was unwrapped and taken out from the paper.

"Here is something else," said the sweet-faced lady. "We must hang this on the tree. Paul took such a fancy to it that I had to get it for him. He will never be satisfied unless we hang it on too."

"Oh, yes," said some one else who was helping to decorate the tree; "we will hang it here on the very top."

So the little star hung on the highest branch of the Christmas-tree.

That evening all the candles were lighted on the Christmas-tree, and there were so many that they fairly dazzled the eyes; and the gold and silver balls, the fairies and the glass fruits, shone and twinkled in the light; and high above them all shone the golden star.

At seven o'clock a bell was rung, and then the folding doors of the room where the Christmas-tree stood were thrown open, and a crowd of children came trooping in.

They laughed and shouted and pointed, and all talked together, and after a while there was music, and presents were taken from the tree and given to the children.

How different it all was from the great wide, still sky house!

But the star had never been so happy in all its life; for the little boy was there.

He stood apart from the other children, looking up at the star, with his hands clasped behind him, and he did not seem to care for the toys and the games.

At last it was all over. The lights were put out, the children went home, and the house grew still.

Then the ornaments on the tree began to talk among themselves.

"So that is all over," said a silver ball. "It was very gay this evening—the gayest Christmas I remember."

"Yes," said a glass bunch of grapes; "the best of it is over. Of course people will come to look at us for several days yet, but it won't be like this evening."

"And then I suppose we'll be laid away for another year," said a paper fairy. "Really it seems hardly worth while. Such a few days out of the year and then to be shut up in the dark box again. I almost wish I were a paper doll."

The bunch of grapes was wrong in saying that people would come to look at the Christmas-tree the next few days, for it stood neglected in the library and nobody came near it. Everybody in the house went about very quietly, with anxious faces; for the little boy was ill.

At last, one evening, a woman came into the room with a servant. The woman wore the cap and apron of a nurse.

"That is it," she said, pointing to the golden star. The servant climbed up on some steps and took down the star and put it in the nurse's hand, and she carried it out into the hall and upstairs to a room where the little boy lay.

The sweet-faced lady was sitting by the bed, and as the nurse came in she held out her hand for the star.

"Is this what you wanted, my darling?" she asked, bending over the little boy.

The child nodded and held out his hands for the star; and as he clasped it a wonderful, shining smile came over his face.

The next morning the little boy's room was very still and dark.

The golden piece of paper that had been the star lay on a table beside the bed, its five points very sharp and bright.

But it was not the real star, any more than a person's body is the real person.

The real star was living and shining now in the little boy's heart, and it had gone out with him into a new and more beautiful sky country than it had ever known before—the sky country where the little child angels live, each one carrying in its heart its own particular star.

— Katherine Pyle

Jane Taylor

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

Twinkle, twinkle, little star;

How I wonder what you are!

Up above the world so high,

Like a diamond in the sky!

When the blazing sun is set,

And the grass with dew is wet,

Then you show your little light,

Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.

In the dark blue sky you keep,

And often through my curtains peep,

For you never shut your eye

Till the sun is in the sky.

As your bright and tiny spark

Lights the traveller in the dark,

Though I know not what you are,

Twinkle, twinkle, little star.


  WEEK 52  


The Story-Teller  by Maud Lindsay

The Promise

A Christmas Wonder Story for Older Children

T HERE was once a harper who played such beautiful music and sang such beautiful songs that his fame spread throughout the whole land; and at last the king heard of him and sent messengers to bring him to the palace.

"I will neither eat nor sleep till I have seen your face and heard the sound of your harp." This was the message the king sent to the harper.

The messengers said it over and over until they knew it by heart, and when they reached the harper's house they called:

"Hail, harper! Come out and listen, for we have something to tell you that will make you glad."

But when the harper heard the king's message he was sad, for he had a wife and a child and a little brown dog; and he was sorry to leave them and they were sorry to have him go.

"Stay with us," they begged; but the harper said:

"I must  go, for it would be discourtesy to disappoint the king; but as sure as holly berries are red and pine is green, I will come back by Christmas day to eat my share of the Christmas pudding, and sing the Christmas songs by my own fireside."

And when he had promised this he hung his harp upon his back and went away with the messengers to the king's palace.

When he got there the king welcomed him with joy, and many things were done in his honor. He slept on a bed of softest down, and ate from a plate of gold at the king's own table; and when he sang everybody and everything, from the king himself to the mouse in the palace pantry, stood still to listen.

No matter what he was doing, however, feasting or resting, singing or listening to praises, he never forgot the promise that he had made to his wife and his child and his little brown dog; and when the day before Christmas came, he took his harp in his hand and went to bid the king good-bye.

Now the king was loath to have the harper leave him, and he said to him:

"I will give you a horse that is white as milk, as glossy as satin, and fleet as a deer, if you will stay to play and sing before my throne on Christmas day."

But the harper answered, "I cannot stay, for I have a wife and a child and a little brown dog; and I have promised them to be at home by Christmas day to eat my share of the Christmas pudding and sing the Christmas songs by my own fireside."

Then the king said, "If you will stay to play and sing before my throne on Christmas day I will give to you a wonderful tree that summer or winter is never bare; and silver and gold will fall for you whenever you shake this little tree."

But the harper said, "I must not stay, for my wife and my child and my little brown dog are waiting for me, and I have promised them to be at home by Christmas day to eat my share of the Christmas pudding and sing the Christmas songs by my own fireside."

Then the king said, "If you will stay on Christmas day one tune to play and one song to sing, I will give you a velvet robe to wear, and you may sit beside me here with a ring on your finger and a crown on your head."

But the harper answered, "I will  not stay, for my wife and my child and my little brown dog are watching for me; and I have promised them to be at home by Christmas day to eat my share of the Christmas pudding and sing the Christmas songs by my own fireside." And he wrapped his old cloak about him, and hung his harp upon his back, and went out from the king's palace without another word.

He had not gone far when the little white snowflakes came fluttering down from the skies.

"Harper, stay," they seemed to say,

"Do not venture out to-day."

But the harper said, "The snow may fall, but I must go, for I have a wife and a child and a little brown dog; and I have promised them to be at home by Christmas day to eat my share of the Christmas pudding and sing the Christmas songs by my own fireside."

Then the snow fell thick, and the snow fell fast. The hills and the valleys, the hedges and hollows were white. The paths were all hidden, and there were drifts like mountains on the king's highway. The harper stumbled and the harper fell, but he would not turn back; and as he traveled he met the wind.

"Brother Harper, turn, I pray;

Do not journey on to-day,"

sang the wind, but the harper would not heed.

"Snows may fall and winds may blow, but I must go on," he said, "for I have a wife and a child and a little brown dog; and I have promised them to be at home by Christmas day to eat my share of the Christmas pudding and sing the Christmas songs by my own fireside."

Then the wind blew an icy blast. The snow froze on the ground and the water froze in the rivers. The harper's breath froze in the air, and icicles as long as the king's sword hung from the rocks on the king's highway. The harper shivered and the harper shook, but he would not turn back; and by and by he came to the forest that lay between him and his home.

The trees of the forest were creaking and bending in the wind, and every one of them seemed to say:

"Darkness gathers, night is near;

Harper, stop! Don't venture here."

But the harper would not stop. "Snows may fall, winds may blow, and night may come, but I have promised to be at home by Christmas day to eat my share of the Christmas pudding and sing the Christmas songs by my own fireside. I must go on."

And on he went till the last glimmer of daylight faded, and there was darkness everywhere. But the harper was not afraid of the dark.

"If I cannot see I can sing," said he, and he sang in the forest joyously:

"Sing glory, glory, glory!

And bless God's holy name;

For 'twas on Christmas morning,

The little Jesus came.

"He wore no robes; no crown of gold

Was on His head that morn;

But herald angels sang for joy,

To tell a King was born."

The snow ceased its falling, the wind ceased its blowing, the trees of the forest bowed down to listen, and, lo! dear children, as he sang the darkness turned to wondrous light, and close at hand the harper saw the open doorway of his home.

The wife and the child and the little brown dog were watching and waiting, and they welcomed the harper with great joy.


The harper was happier than a king as he sat by his own fireside.

The holly berries were red in the Christmas wreaths; their Christmas tree was a young green pine; the Christmas pudding was full of plums; and the harper was happier than a king as he sat by his own fireside to sing:

"O glory, glory, glory!

We praise God's holy name;

For 'twas to bring His wondrous love,

The little Jesus came.

"And in our hearts it shines anew,

While at His throne we pray,

God bless us all for Jesus' sake,

This happy Christmas day."




Sunny Bank

As I sat on a sunny bank,

On Christmas Day in the morning,

I spied three ships come sailing by,

On Christmas Day in the morning,

And who should be with those three ships

But Joseph and his fair lady!

O he did whistle and she did sing,

On Christmas Day in the morning,

And all the bells on earth did ring,

On Christmas Day in the morning,

For joy that our Saviour he was born

On Christmas Day in the morning.


  WEEK 52  


The Toy Shop  by Maud Lindsay

The Christmas Tops

S EVEN of the big tin tops that sang when they spun went to the Brown family. There was Mr. Brown and Mrs. Brown, the two big Brown boys, and the two Brown boys who were neither very little nor very big, and the one little Brown girl. Seven Browns and seven singing tops!

Mr. Brown bought the tops, and when the other people in the Toy-Shop looked a little surprised to see him get so many he laughed and chuckled till they had to laugh, too. He was a very jolly man.

"Getting ready for Christmas fun," said the Toy-Lady who had sold him tops before. But she did not know how much fun the Browns did have at Christmas.

They had fun hanging the Christmas wreaths in every window and holly all over the house. They never could put up too much holly for Mr. Brown. He even pinned a tiny piece on his coat, he liked it so well.

They had fun making the Christmas pudding that everybody had to stir. Mr. Brown said he wouldn't eat a Christmas pudding unless everybody in the house had stirred it.

They had fun choosing the Christmas tree and bringing it home and putting it up and trimming it and lighting the candles; and in guessing what was in the Christmas packages before they were opened, and saying, "Oh, just what I wanted!" when they were opened.

They hung up their stockings and socks on Christmas Eve, and laughed because some of them were small and some big, some long and some short; and they laughed again in the morning when they found those same socks and stockings stuffed with Christmas goodies.

Eating Christmas breakfast was fun, too, because nobody had to hurry away to work or to school, and there was plenty of time to talk about all sorts of pleasant things; and when they finished their breakfast they spun the Christmas tops.

All the Browns sat on the floor and wound their tops at the very same time and then when Mr. Brown said, "One, two, three; ready to go!" off went the tops all together.

"Hum, hum, hum," they sang like great sleepy bees, and the fun then was to see whose top would spin and sing the longest.

Mrs. Brown felt very sure that hers would be the one. It was such a steady-going top with its hum, hum, hum; never moving out of its place.

But Mr. Brown thought that his top would be the last to stop, even though it danced about as it sang.

"I think they do better when they move," he said.

The Brown boys, no matter whether they were big or middle-sized, made a great noise and stir over their tops.

"Mine will last the longest!"  "Mine will last the longest!" they called and they whirled and twirled and danced about as if they were tops themselves.

But which of the tops do you think was still turning on its one little toe and humming like a big sleepy bee when all the others had tumbled down? The top that belonged to the little Brown girl; and the rest of the Browns were as pleased as she was.


Still turning on its one little toe.

"Next time though mine must beat," said Mr. Brown. "One, two, three; ready to go!" Then all the fun began again.


Clement Clarke Moore

A Visit from St. Nicholas

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;

And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,

Had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,

Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow

Gave the luster of mid-day to objects below,

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,

And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:

"Now, Dasher!  now, Dancer!  now, Prancer  and Vixen!

On, Comet!  on, Cupid!  on, Donder  and Blitzen!

To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!

Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;

So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,

With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas, too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof

The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,

Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,

And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;

A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,

And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,

And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;

He had a broad face and a little round belly,

That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,

And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,

Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,

And laying his finger aside of his nose,

And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,

And away they all flew like the down on a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."


  WEEK 52  


Good Stories for Great Holidays  by Frances Jenkins Olcott

The Christmas Rose

When the Magi laid their rich offerings of myrrh, frankincense, and gold, by the bed of the sleeping Christ Child, legend says that a shepherd maiden stood outside the door quietly weeping.

She, too, had sought the Christ Child. She, too, desired to bring him gifts. But she had nothing to offer, for she was very poor indeed. In vain she had searched the countryside over for one little flower to bring Him, but she could find neither bloom nor leaf, for the winter had been cold.

And as she stood there weeping, an angel passing saw her sorrow, and stooping he brushed aside the snow at her feet. And there sprang up on the spot a cluster of beautiful winter roses,—waxen white with pink tipped petals.

"Nor myrrh, nor frankincense, nor gold," said the angel, "is offering more meet for the Christ Child than these pure Christmas Roses."

Joyfully the shepherd maiden gathered the flowers and made her offering to the Holy Child.

— An Old Legend by Lizzie Deas (Adapted)

George MacDonald

Christmas Day and Every Day

Star high,

Baby low:

'Twixt the two

Wise men go:

Find the baby,

Grasp the star—

Heirs of all things

Near and far!