"One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town corner now and out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six...."
"...In easy state upon this couch, there sat a jolly Giant, glorious to see; who bore a glowing torch and held it high up to shed its light on Scrooge, as he came peeping round the door. 'I am the Ghost of Christmas Present,' said the Spirit. 'Look upon me!'"
"'... Thank you and your husband so much for the beautiful calendar you sent us. It was so good of you to think of us –' 'Oh, you can't possibly say that.' 'Why not? It's what I always say.' 'We sent them something on the twenty-second, so they had to think of us. There was no getting around it.' 'Well, what did we send them?' 'I forget – good heavens – I think it was a calendar....'
"Her fingers tore at the string and paper. And then an ecstatic scream of joy; and alas! a quick change to hysterical tears and wailing. For there lay the combs that Della had worshipped for so long in a Broadway window. And now they were hers, but the tresses they should have adorned were gone. But she hugged them to her, and at length she was able to smile and say: 'My hair grows so fast, Jim. Oh! You haven't seen your beautiful present! A platinum watch chain, I hunted all over to find it. Give me your watch, I want to see how it looks on it.' Instead of obeying, Jim tumbled down on the couch and put his hands under the back of his head and smiled. 'Dell,' said he, 'let's put our Christmas presents away and keep 'em a while. They're too nice to use just at present. I sold the watch to buy your combs.'"
"Ralph and Imogene were there all right, only they didn't come through the door pushing each other out of the way. They just stood there for a minute as if they weren't sure they were in the right place – because of all the candles I guess, and the church being full of people. They looked like people you see on the six o'clock news – refugees, sent to wait in some strange ugly place, with all their boxes and sacks around them. It suddenly occurred to me that this was the way it must have been for the real Holy Family, stuck away in a barn by people who didn't care what happened to them. They couldn't have been very neat and tidy either, but more like this Mary and Joseph – Imogene's veil was cockeyed as usual, and Ralph's hair stuck out around his ears."
"Look, would it be all right if I was to put you in the stable? I mean, just for tonight, till we can get a bit of space clear. It won't be too bad in there, there's plenty of straw and all that, and we can keep the animals separate – I could give it a clean-out first. No charge of course, till you have a room – come on then, bring her in, and be careful. I'll get the boy to fetch the midwife... dear oh dear, what a night, what a night..."
"A coming of winter morning more than twenty years ago. Consider the kitchen of a spreading old house in a country town. A great black stove is its main feature; but there is also a big round table and a fireplace with two rocking chairs placed in front of it. Just today the fireplace commenced its seasonal roar. A woman with shorn white hair is standing at the kitchen window. She is wearing tennis shoes and a shapeless gray sweater over a summery calico dress. She is small and sprightly, like a bantam hen; but, due to a long youthful illness, her shoulders are pitifully hunched. Her face is remarkable—not unlike Lincoln's, craggy like that, and tinted by sun and wind; but it is delicate too, finely boned, and her eyes are sherry-colored and timid. 'Oh my,' she exclaims, her breath smoking the windowpane, 'it's fruitcake weather!'"
"I opened the last carton, labeled DECORATIONS. There on top was the cardboard tree Jannie had made in kindergarten. That always went on the dining room table, and then there was the big Santa Claus face Sally had done in first grade, and that went on the back door, and the red and green paper chains Larry had made when he was a Cub Scout went over the doorway. Not two weeks ago Barry had come home from nursery school with a greenish kind of a picture of a snowman, and that somehow got established on the refrigerator next to the big chart Larry always made early in December, so we could all fill out our Christmas lists and keep them in plain sight. Here were the popcorn strings my mother strung when I was the youngest child, and the paper bells Larry and I made when he was so small it seems unbelievable now, and the jigsaw Santa my husband cut out the same year, and the painted candy canes, and the red ribbons, and the green paper wreaths. 'Oh, my,' I said, looking at all of it. 'Oh, Mom, just sit down,' Jannie said. 'You just don't remember, that's all. You sit down and I'll do it.'"
"If, on the other hand, you want your celebration to be social, you will probably find that you have more options than you may have realized at first. Whether you perceive your lack of family as an irretrievable loss or as a chance to explore new options depends entirely on your attitude. First, redefine your idea of 'family'..."
"But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart."