Here’s another of my favourite Christmas scenes from a book… this one comes from the prairies.
Little House on the Prairie // Laura Ingalls Wilder
In this Christmas story, Laura and Mary are worried that with all the rain, Santa Claus won’t be able to get to the little house. But then, on Christmas Eve, who should show up but Mr. Edwards! And he’s brought them Santa’s gifts…
Mr. Edwards came and sat on the floor by their bed, and he answered every question they asked him. They honestly tried not to look at Ma, and they didn’t quite see what she was doing. …
Well, the first thing Santa Claus said was, “Hello, Edwards!” (“Did he know you?” Mary asked, and Laura asked, “How did you know he was really Santa Claus?” Mr. Edwards said that Santa Claus knew everybody. And he had recognized Santa at once by his whiskers. Santa had the longest, thickest, whitest set of whiskers west of the Mississippi.) …
Then Santa Claus said: “I understand you’re living now down along the Verdigris River. Have you ever met up, down yonder, with two little young girls named Mary and Laura?”
“I surely am acquainted with them,” Mr. Edwards replied.
“It rests heavy on my mind,” said Santa Claus. “They are both of them sweet, pretty, good little young things, and I know they are expecting me. I surely do hate to disappoint two good little girls like them. Yet with the water up the way it is, I can’t ever make it across that creek. I can figure no way whatsoever to get to their cabin this year. Edwards,” Santa Claus said, “Would you do me the favor to fetch them their gifts this one time?”
“I’ll do that, and with pleasure,” Mr. Edwards told him. …
And Santa Claus uncinched the pack and looked through it, and he took out the presents for Mary and Laura.
“Oh, what are they?” Laura cried; but Mary asked, “Then what did he do?”
Then he shook hands with Mr. Edwards, and he swung up on his fine bay horse. Santa Claus rode well for a man of his weight and build. And he tucked his long, white whiskers under his bandana. “So long, Edwards,” he said, and he rode away on the Fort Dodge trail, leading his pack-mule and whistling.
Laura and Mary were silent an instant, thinking of that.
Then Ma said, “You may look now, girls.”
Something was shining bright in the top of Laura’s stocking. She squealed and jumped out of bed. So did Mary, but Laura beat her to the fireplace. And the shining thing was a glittering new tin cup.
Mary had one exactly like it.
These new tin cups were their very own. Now they each had a cup to drink out of. Laura jumped up and down and shouted and laughed, but Mary stood still and looked with shining eyes at her own tin cup. …
There never had been such a Christmas.
Little House on the Prairie, Chapter 19
What I Love About this Scene
I love the friendship Mr. Edwards displays for this family. He knows how dangerous it is to cross the river, but he does it anyway… for Laura and Mary. (While “Santa” couldn’t make it across the raging river, Mr. Edward could and did!) And it’s amazing how he makes it into an experience for the girls. A whole story! (I also love how Wilder includes the little questions the girls have when they see a potential plot hole in his story. But Mr. Edwards never missed a beat.)
I also love how Laura and Mary are thrilled with the simple gifts they receive: their tin cups, candy, a little cake made with white sugar, and a penny each! What bounty!