The International Writers Magazine - DREAMSCAPES FICTION
Very Darling Christmas
Darling family were unfortunate in Christmas 1930 as their wonderful
father was away, either on business or at war, Mother always forgot
which. As a result, they were quite poor, though as Mother always
said, there was always somebody less fortunate, and anyway, they
had servants ( Joan the Housekeeper and Old Tom the Gardener).
Christmas morn, Mother roused the children and pressed oranges into
Tis time for church! she declared, joyously.
The family therefore dressed in their Sunday best and trotted two by
two to the ramshackle yet charming local House of God.
Upon their return, Dick, who was twelve and impudent, decided to say
How I love Christmas, said he. Spending the morning
hearing about how Im going to Hell.
Really, Dick, admonished Mother. Charity, run and
cut me a switch.
Esther looked sternly at Dick. At seventeen she was quite grown up and
disapproved of young Dicks antics.
Benjamin, the eldest, broke the solemn silence with a rousing shout.
Lets have breakfast!
The family sat merrily about a table lain with bread, milk and cakes.
Determined Benjamin, pious Esther, tomboy Jane, accomplished Elizabeth,
impudent Dick and little Charity (who means well) with their Mother
were indeed a pretty family.
Whats the point? sighed Charity. We shall only
have to give it all to illegal immigrants again.
Charity! scolded Mother. Really. Elizabeth, run and
cut me a switch.
After the dull church outing, the children were famished, so they were
awfully aggrieved when Mother brightly, and predictably, brought up
the subject of the Irish family in the abandoned barn.
If only the OHara family had as much as we, she began.
Why, their newest baby is ravaged with scarlet fever and the other
fourteen children, frail mother and alcoholic father do nothing but
fret and weep.
Perchance they should seek employment, muttered Dick, as
his mother cried Jane, run and cut me a switch!
Mamma, squeaked Charity (who means well), "Connie Carpenter
said our cousin Emily was wicked and her family threw her out with the
Absurd! cried Mother, turning puce. You know that
poor Cousin Emily recently succumbed to the consumption. Twas
a terrible time.
I saw her yesterday! said Dick. Dirty and ragged under
the old bridge with a baby. Shes not married!
Cest un scandale! agreed Elizabeth, showing off as
Shes dead! shrieked Mother. Esther, run and
cut me a switch.
Mother! coaxed Esther, sanctimoniously. The OHaras!
Why, we simply must take them our breakfast! cried Jane.
Bother, said nearly everyone else.
Thus the Darlings took their breakfast to give to needy children (though
they would have preferred rat traps) and returned in conceited high
spirits to sing memorable songs from 'Meet Me In St. Louis', while Elizabeth
smugly provided the musical accompaniment on the piano. They had just
finished 'The Trolley Song' when there was a knock at the door. The
children ran to answer it.
Oh! they bellowed, simultaneously. Father!
For their father was come at last! They all laughed heartily and the
girls of course wept.
But was that singing I heard? laughed Father. More!
More! But first, Dick, for you! And Father gave Dick his dear
old toy steam engine, mended good as new. And now, continued
Father, still in his heartiest voice and before anyone could ask questions
about his mysterious absence, if Eliza would consent to play again
And Eliza did and they all sang 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas'
until Joan the Housekeeper hanged herself in response to such a saccharine
© Sarah Richardson - Jan 2004
Sarah is a first year Creative Arts student at Portsmouth University
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