Another of my favourite Christmas scenes in a book…
3 – Little Women // by Louisa May Alcott
I love the Christmas sequence that opens Alcott’s masterpiece. “Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,” grumbles Jo. And then on Christmas morning, as they’re about to enjoy their Christmas breakfast, Marmee comes and spoils it all. She suggests they give their breakfast to a poor hungry family!
The girls know their duty, and they agree to the charity. And they end up doing it cheerfully. Later in the day, they go on to giving a performance. And after the performance, there’s a surprise waiting for them them…
It was like Marmee to get up a little treat for them, but anything so fine as this was unheard of since the departed days of plenty. There was ice cream, actually two dishes of it, pink and white, and cake and fruit and distracting French bonbons and, in the middle of the table, four great bouquets of hot house flowers.
It quite took their breath away, and they stared first at the table and then at their mother, who looked as if she enjoyed it immensely.
“Is it fairies?” asked Amy.
“Santa Claus,” said Beth.
“Mother did it.” And Meg smiled her sweetest, in spite of her gray beard and white eyebrows.
“Aunt March had a good fit and sent the supper,” cried Jo, with a sudden inspiration.
“All wrong. Old Mr. Laurence sent it,” replied Mrs. March.
“The Laurence boy’s grandfather! What in the world put such a thing into his head? We don’t know him!” exclaimed Meg.
“Hannah told one of his servants about your breakfast party. He is an odd old gentleman, but that pleased him. He knew my father years ago, and he sent me a polite note this afternoon, saying he hoped I would allow him to express his friendly feeling toward my children by sending them a few trifles in honor of the day. I could not refuse, and so you have a little feast at night to make up for the bread-and-milk breakfast.”
Little Women, Chapter 2
What I Love About this Scene
I just love the March sisters. I like how each of their personalities come out in the above passage as they’re trying to figure out WHO gave them the breakfast party.
I also love how they do a really hard thing at the beginning of the book. They give up something they want. This leads to an even better surprise!
And I love how this is an excellent introduction to Laurie!