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Authors: Jean Little

Untangling Christmas (3 page)

BOOK: Untangling Christmas
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Aunt says we must go to bed. And I want to. It will make Christmas morning come faster. But it is hard to settle down. That is why I am writing to you.

Merry Christmas Eve, Benjamin.

Christmas Day

Saturday, December 25, 1920

Dear Ben,

Joy to the world! The Lord is come.

What a mixed-up, marvellous day! To think I was
afraid it would be horrible. Theo woke us all up before it was light outside. He came for me and Fanny first and then we fetched you out of your crib. You were surprised to see us, but when we began to sing “Away in a Manger” you grinned and put up your arms to be lifted out. Then we got Aunt and Father and we were heading for the stairs when a sleepy voice called, “Wait for me, you lot!” Jo had come home in the night to be here to open her stocking. Carrie was with her and Jo had managed to hang up a stocking for her, which was perfect.

We all got silly things and nice things. I got a new book. I am always worried that Father and Aunt will forget I need a Christmas book — but they never have yet. It is
T. Tembarom
by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It is a grown-up love story! I have read almost half.

Right after we had our Christmas breakfast, Theo went out “to play in the snow.” That was what he said. And then, Ben, you will never guess what he did. He went over to the street where we took the Christmas boxes and started playing with the children there, and when he came home, he was jumping up and down with glee. He knew the whole story of how the family found the boxes. The mother even sent Belinda running over to tell her sister — the woman Aunt talked to — and the whole bunch of them got
together and had a wonderful feast.

“That boy even liked the pyjamas,” Theo told Aunt.

“They were the best pyjamas in the store,” Aunt said.

Theo swore he did not even hint that he knew where the things had come from. He was so proud of himself for being such a detective.

I thought he was great until he pulled out his new play sword and started running around giving us all “the mark of Zorro.” It is irritating. That sword does not cut but it sure bruises.

Connie came over at around two. She wanted Fan to come out for a walk. I held my breath, Ben, but Fan was as smooth as a queen. “I’m sorry,” she said, “but we have company and Christmas is a family day. I’m busy tomorrow too. It’s Ben’s birthday and Margery James has invited me to go with her church group on a sleigh ride. I hope you have a merry Christmas.” Then, while Connie was kind of hissing through her teeth, Fan quietly closed the door.

We read Dickens’s
Christmas Carol
tonight. We started before supper so Theo would be able to stay up for it. But he fell asleep on the rug in front of the fireplace, leaning up against Hamlet.

Good night, Ben. You are almost a year old. This book will be finished tomorrow. I am going to miss
writing to you.

But I got a lovely diary book, a fat one with big creamy pages, from Aunt for Christmas. Your clever mother always knows what I will be wanting.

Ben’s First Birthday

Boxing Day, December 26, 1920

Dearest Ben,

You slept in! We were all waiting for you to wake us up early as usual and you didn’t. Finally Theo began making a rumpus. He sang “Happy Birthday!” at the top of his voice and rushed about, stomping his feet, and at last you opened your eyes. And I was watching from the door and you saw me and you said, you actually said, “Fee.” Then you said, “Fifi.” But you can call me “Fifi” if you like, my sweet Ben.

Fan tried to get you to say “Fan,” but you didn’t. You didn’t say “Fifi” again either, but never mind. I know you will.

You love your presents. And you walked another step before you plunked down on your bottom. Such a clever child.

It was a lovely day from start to finish. Not one bit tangled. No frayed bits or ugly knots. I even told Fanny how jealous I had felt of Con when I began this book for you, and she gave me a tight hug.

People came to your birthday party, Ben. It seems strange to celebrate Jesus’s birthday one day and yours the next. It is also strange to know that we will still be singing to the Little Lord Jesus when you are blowing out five candles, or ten, and you are not our “little lord Ben” any longer.

But you will have this Birthday Book to remind you of how we felt when you were almost one and I wrote this for you and learned to love you with all my heart.

Good night, little lord Ben. Goodbye, Ben’s Book.

Love,

Fifi

About the Author

Jean Little is one of Canada’s most beloved and distinguished authors. She has written fifty books, which have been translated into twenty languages. Among them are some of Canada’s best-loved works for children, such as
Mama’s Going to Buy You a Mockingbird
,
Mine for Keeps
and
From Anna
. Jean began writing as a child and has never stopped, despite the challenge of her blindness. She has received numerous national and international awards and has been made a member of the Order of Canada for her outstanding contribution to Canadian children’s literature.

Jean’s first book for the Dear Canada series,
Orphan at My Door
, won the CLA Book of the Year for Children Award. Her second,
Brothers Far from Home
, is a CLA Honour Book. Her most recent Dear Canada,
Exiles from the War
, has been shortlisted for the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People.
Dancing Through the Snow
was shortlisted for many awards and has been a great international success.

Jean lives in Guelph, Ontario, with her family and her guide dog, Honey.

While the events described and some of the characters in this book may be based on actual historical events and real people, Fiona Macgregor is a fictional character created by the author, and this story is a work of fiction.

“Untangling Christmas” copyright © 2009 by Jean Little.

Interior illustration by Colin Mayne, copyright © 2009 by Scholastic Canada Ltd.

Originally published in
Dear Canada, A Christmas to Remember: Tales of Comfort and Joy
.

Cover image: © iStockphoto.com/moniaphoto

Published by Scholastic Canada Ltd.

SCHOLASTIC and DEAR CANADA and logos are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of Scholastic Inc.

All rights reserved under International and Pan–American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read this e-book on-screen. No part of this publication may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of the publisher, Scholastic Canada Ltd., 604 King Street West, Toronto, Ontario M5V 1E1, Canada.

ISBN: 978-1-4431-2417-1

First eBook edition: December 2012

Also Available

To read more great Christmas stories and meet other Dear Canada heroines check out
A Christmas to Remember: Tales of Comfort and Joy
and
A Season for Miracles: Twelve Tales of Christmas.

If you liked Fiona Macgregor’s Christmas story, look for her diary,
If I Die Before I Wake
, to read more about her.

Books in the Dear Canada Series

Alone in an Untamed Land, The
Filles du Roi
Diary of Hélène St. Onge
by Maxine Trottier

Banished from Our Home, The Acadian Diary of Angélique Richard
by Sharon Stewart

Blood Upon Our Land, The North West Resistance Diary of Josephine Bouvier
by Maxine Trottier

Brothers Far from Home, The World War I Diary of Eliza Bates
by Jean Little

A Christmas to Remember, Tales of Comfort and Joy

Days of Toil and Tears, The Child Labour Diary of Flora Rutherford
by Sarah Ellis

The Death of My Country, The Plains of Abraham Diary of Geneviève Aubuchon
by Maxine Trottier

A Desperate Road to Freedom, The Underground Railroad Diary of Julia May Jackson
by Karleen Bradford

Exiles from the War, The War Guests Diary of Charlotte Mary Twiss
by Jean Little

Footsteps in the Snow, The Red River Diary of Isobel Scott
by Carol Matas

Hoping for Home, Stories of Arrival

If I Die Before I Wake, The Flu Epidemic Diary of Fiona Macgregor
by Jean Little

No Safe Harbour, The Halifax Explosion Diary of Charlotte Blackburn
by Julie Lawson

Not a Nickel to Spare, The Great Depression Diary of Sally Cohen
by Perry Nodelman

An Ocean Apart, The Gold Mountain Diary of Chin Mei-ling
by Gillian Chan

Orphan at My Door, The Home Child Diary of Victoria Cope
by Jean Little

A Prairie as Wide as the Sea, The Immigrant Diary of Ivy Weatherall
by Sarah Ellis

Prisoners in the Promised Land, The Ukrainian Internment Diary of Anya Soloniuk
by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch

A Rebel’s Daughter, The 1837 Rebellion Diary of Arabella Stevenson
by Janet Lunn

A Ribbon of Shining Steel, The Railway Diary of Kate Cameron
by Julie Lawson

A Sea of Sorrows, The Typhus Epidemic Diary of Johanna Leary
by Norah McClintock

A Season for Miracles, Twelve Tales of Christmas

That Fatal Night, The
Titanic
Diary of Dorothy Wilton
by Sarah Ellis

To Stand On My Own, The Polio Epidemic Diary of Noreen Robertson
by Barbara Haworth-Attard

Torn Apart, The Internment Diary of Mary Kobayashi
by Susan Aihoshi

A Trail of Broken Dreams, The Gold Rush Diary of Harriet Palmer
by Barbara Haworth-Attard

Turned Away, The World War II Diary of Devorah Bernstein
by Carol Matas

Where the River Takes Me, The Hudson’s Bay Company Diary of Jenna Sinclair
by Julie Lawson

Whispers of War, The War of 1812 Diary of Susanna Merritt
by Kit Pearson

Winter of Peril, The Newfoundland Diary of Sophie Loveridge
by Jan Andrews

With Nothing But Our Courage, The Loyalist Diary of Mary MacDonald
by Karleen Bradford

Go to
www.scholastic.ca/dearcanada
for information on the Dear Canada Series — see inside the books, read an excerpt or a review, post a review, and more.

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