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The San Francisco call. [volume] (San Francisco [Calif.]) 1895-1913, December 18, 1910, Image 8

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Santa Claus Twin
A. CHRISTMAS party in July, daugh
ter, how eoulU that happen?"
"That's Just what I said, mother,
when Bess first spoke of it, and she
said, 'Well, it's thl 3 way. You know
my. birthday comes the day after
Christmas. All the rest have birth
days in the summer. May's is in May,
of course, and both the boys' are in
September. They always have birth
day parties, and lots' of fun beforehand
planning and preparing, but mine
comes too soon after, the Great Birth
day. One time I spoko of this when
we were up hero at the farm for vaca
tion, and Aunt Bess said "How would
it do for us to have a party up here
some day in July, if you like, and call
it your birthday party?" and just then
Uncle Warren came along and we asked
him what he thought, and he didn't say,
only began. sort of chanting— \V.«,k
Oh, what ~n 'blessing 'twould 'a' been
If .Santa had been born a | twin,
;. We'd had two CliiiKtmnsos a year.
And p'raps one brudder'd settled here.
' "'.That gave us the Idea of making
it. a. .Christmas party. . Uncle had
found, the verse In an old magazine, and
had set it- to music/, So we always
sing it at my. party. ; 'That was three
years .ago, and . we've had .one each
year since, and you don't know what
! fun it is! 1 ,Y>, « •
: "And it is, mother.' , I'll just begin
at tiie beginning and tell you allabout
it. You t remember you thought the
country life, this vacation would help
me to grow, strong and well, and when
Aunt Bess asked me to comoout with'
Bess and the , children, I didn't want
to. go, but you coaxed, me. I was afraid
-for Blu? wasn't my. really, truly Auntie, :
' and I never like to be away from you—
b "t i;never had. such, a jolly ..time in"
my life, and I shall never be afraid
again.--- .Lonesome? V Why. from the'
time^they, met usat the. train until I
pt back- home I don't believe there
has been asingle minute I havn't been \u25a0
doing isomethingl wanted to do and
you couldn't get lonesome out. there if
you tried.
\u25a0 "For two weeks before the party we
W itn e n« USy aS bees ma^ing gifts and
planning, surprises, just as we do for
Christmas, \ and Uncle- Warren would
say .'mystery, mystery; who's got the
,mystery,Vbut'he was the worst of the
lot. because we found out he had helped
Bess Plan nearly everything
t*»,iy i^ n , the da y came and we had
£a«m d , lnin & room ready. I wish you
could .have seen it. Bess set; a small
tablefor the dolls. We used a big box
for a platform to raise it as high as
° U S ?WI?? WI ? table> E ach doll hadachal
\u25a0and their table had flowers and favors
and candles and baskets of fruit and
boxes of candies, and in the center
Bess \ birthday cake with 14 candles.
.Christmas , wreaths and greens were'
everywhere and the- boys had found a
lot of scarlet berries that grow on
vines^, close to the ground—kinnikin
nic. Rolph said the Indians called li
ana we used U like holly with the
cedar and spruce and fir. •"
"Another table in another corner held
the: gifts.: Packages of all sorts and
shapes and sizes were on it. One of the
rules is that each gift shall be the un
aided work of each giver. Auntie says
there s plenty of time Juring vacation
and the worth of a gift is the love and
thought we weave into it. You just wait
mother, my love, till you see the won
der box I have brought home. It will
make you proud of me. I'm proud of
myself. There are candle shades made
of real pressed flowers between waxed
paper, and when • the light shines
through they look like fresh 'blooms.
And there are two balsam pillows;
they take quite a lot of time, and some
pillows of rosoleaves— you know there
are such loads and loads of roses there,
always. Then there are quite a lot of
the funniest hickory j nut and clothes
pin dollies. They are fascinating to
make, and soon as you get one done
you want to do another. The hickory
nut dolls we dressed \u25a0in corn husks,
perfectly gorgeous raiment of different
shades of brown. I callone of them
my Creole queen. You will think I
worked hard every minute when you
see what I have done, all my own self,
but I didn't. Aunt Bess says this life
is too short and too full of pleasant
things to do ever to keep at one till
we are weary, and it seemed like she
made us stop each time at the place in
our work when we would be crazy to
continue. Maybe that was what made
us rush at it again so eagerly and
gladly when the chance came. Sha
never mild 'Stop!' Instead she would
say, 'What Tittle girl wants to go with
- me,' or 'Whose duty is,. it?' And, of
course, it was always something, we
wanted to do. I had a horseback ride
j nearly every single day and they t»ught
' me how to hitch a horse to a buggy
and — but that- isn't übout the party.
"in my wonder box you will find
toys unil baskets and rucks and ever
so many thlDga made out of reeds. The
way ,that happened, auntie said she
would give her copy of "Little Women,"
that she has had since she, was a lit
tle girl, to the one who would "con
trive the most. unique things out of the
reeds, and when you see how many I
have you wiJ.l wonder I didn't .win, but
Bess did. \u25a0;. Then ,; auntie , came around
to eaich j of us, after giving Bess "Lit
tje Women,' 1 : and. she said that con
solation prizes were ' certainly due to
each of us, so I .was to have "Under
the Lilacs"^ and. Olive should have
"Faith Gartriey's Girlhood," and each
of the boys .'. had :..< some book off that'
same shelf in -the -library: She said she
wanted us to see what;. old fashioned
stories were like, and she -hoped we
would be good to : the books, because
she had had them so long; that she
gave them to us because she loved us
so well" she wanted to share with us
the .things she cared for Vmost. This
happened, of : course, whil,e we were
making ready for the party.
"To get to back to the day Itself.
The big " dining table, pulled out just
as long as it could be, was set in the
middle of the dining room, and in the
center ; was the most beautiful little. fir
tree, trimmed with the smallest candles
we could get, and all the other things —
tinsel and trinkets. There wasn't room
on that table 'for any other decora
tion^, because there were so many of
us, 11 children and the grownups. And
such a feast! They put everything on
at once, old time fashion.
"At each end there was a huge platter
with a roast turkey, surrounded by
little roast^ turkeys. They were really
truly quail, that the boys had gone
hunting for the day before. And there
was baked ham, cold, an>4 roast veni
son, hot, and vegetables and pies and
cakes 'and cookies and pickles and jel
lies, and, in fact, I don't believe I ever
saw so much\to eat all in sight at one
time In my life, but it seemed a kind of
jolly way. Auntie said it was the
country custom from the time turkey
became the national bird, not of free
dom but of fun. I wondered what we
could do with all that would be left,
but after dinner auntie and Bess
whisked out a lot of boxes and paper
napkins and set us all to packing
\u2666part of the party" (she called it) for
all the) neighbors, for another rule at
this twin Christmas is. that you must
think only of giving, not of getting.
Of course you get, just the same, but
auntie kept talking so much about
the blessedness of giving that truly,
mother, dear, I was sort of surprised
when uncle handed me my first pack
age, and then more and more of them.
Just wait till you see! Theru'u the
loveliest rug made from an Angora kid
skin, and Bess knit me slippers that
Baby May tails ' 'mitten shoes/ and
Jlolph'made me a pen rack of some
small deer horns, and oh — you just
'"When everything was ready uncle
had disappeared and Aunt Bess said,.
'I guess, he's gone ;. down to the barn;
scamper after him and bring, him in.a
hurry,' and we all rushed down to the
barn, but he wasn't there, so we all
rushed back and told her, and she said,
'Well, we'll not wait; come into; the
dining room, he is sure to be along.'
And she opened the door, and I wish
you could have seen that dining room.
Of course, sending us to the barn was
just a trick, and while we were out
they, had drawn: the shades and lit the
candles' arid started the music box in
jthe other room to playing 'Holy Night,'
and by the table of gifts stood uncle
in a white suit that glistened and
sparkled like. frost.
"He began to speak before we had
caught our breath. He said he had
been appointed a deputy for St. Nicho
las,' and before distributing the pack
ages he had a message for us from
headquarters. . j Father Christmas
much pleased at our invitation to visit
us at' a leisure time and! regretted it
would be.impossible to accept. He re
garded the" occasion as a sort of re
hearsal for the real Christmas play
and was sure we would all be benefited
and would play our parts much better
for it. That it had given him pleasure
to confer all necessary authority for
directing the festivities to Uncle War
ren, who he felt sure would prove a
capable deputy.
"Then uncle distributed the pack
ages, and it was just like " Christmas
eve, oh-ing, and ah-ing, and laughing,
and then pretty soon we all sat down
to dinner, and right in the midst of it
came the adventure. A -knock came on
the kitchen door, and Rolph went out
and opened it. Then he came and called
Uncle Warren. Uncle must have for
gotten how funny his spangled suit
would look to anybody that didn't know
what was going on. The man sort of
mumbled — I couldn't hear what he
said — but uncle spoke up so hearty you
couldn't help hearing: 'Of course!
come right in! We're. glad to have you.
We're at dinner now.'
"Aunt Bess seemed to know, the first
word uncle spoke, what would be
needed, and had a place almost fixed
by the time they reached the dining
room door.
"She said some welcoming word, but
the man didn't seem to hear and began
to get whiter and whiter, and finally
sort of fell into a chair, Uncle thought
he was fainting, but the man said, 'No,
no, no/ no,' over and over, just like
that, and he put his head on his arm
and begun to cry. It was pretty awful
for a minute, I tell you. - I never saw a
grown man cry or sob before.
"Then auntie said: 'It must .be seeing
so many children. Have you, perhaps,
lost one of your own '
•'The man lifted up hit* head, then he
btoud up, looking just lighting mud,. but
auntie said afterwards it was just a
fight for self-control.
"'Lost one! I've lost four! Oh, fool,
fool, fool that I have been, but, God
willing, I can 1 find them again." It
wasn't. so much the sight of the chil
dren,- but that ! table ,of dolls that
knocked me silly. I've one little tad,
that with. one rag doll kept. courage in
us when we needed it pretty bad. She
was just 3 ; at the time, and whatever,
she overheard she would later on ex
plain to "Minnie," iso we just* had to
keep up a brave front, or hear her tell
ing 'Nen papa scolded, and mamma
'.' 'The way I happen to be here is:
shameful enough, but till this : minute
I never thought about it that way. I
couldn't gqt; work, and we were worse
thah starving, fj I thought the little
woman andtho babies could accept help ;'.
and no shame to them, if I disappeared,
and that their condition would become
known through search for me, so I lit
out without saying a word, but I mailed
a. letter before, I left town, saylng s l'd
gone to fln'd work and s*he needn't ex
pect to hear from me till I found it.
I've been j tramping over four months.
I'd get an odd job here and there so
I've not had to beg or go hungry. I've
slept out under the stars (I like that
part of it), and" harvest time is. coming'
so maybe I can get something steady,
but I'm not much account at anything
but my; trade. I'm a stonemason, and
strong enough, but farm work has; to
be learned like any other trade, I.sup
pose, before, a man is much good, and
it seems like every time I touch a tool
I break it, but I'm learning; at least,
I've learned that I don't know much
about it; that helps. But it doesn't
look much like a steady job, with t a
living in it for six, does it? The only
one of my babies that knows much
about Christmas is Vera. She is 8. At
first we did pretty well, but then I got
hurt by a fall, and since then, though
I've worked hard when I could, we've
never been out of debt, not once.'
"He stopped with a sort of gasp, and
even uncle and Aunt Bess looked kind
of helpless, but Bnby May spoke up
jutft then, 'We want you come-a-dlnner;
here's your place; there's mince pie, and
. pumpkin, pie.' That mndo everybody
laugh, and uncle got the man into his
place and served him, and everybody
began talking at once. I guess there
never was exactly such a Christinas
party, but it ended beautifully. Uncle
knew just the place for the man, and
they hud It all planned before dinner
was over to send for the family and
everything. Then, as uncle rose from
the table* he said, 'Oh, what a blessing —
everybody sing,' and began beating
time with v knife, and we nil joined in
Hinging „
"Oh, what it blessing 'twould 'a' beeu
If Saiiln hud been bum a twin.
.We'd lu»d two (.'hrlstiinineis n year.
And ii'iuji-. one brudder'd settled faere."

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