The Happiest Day of the Year
Pom was the first to wake up on Christmas morning. The stars were still looking down from the sky but the hands on his little clock pointed to five. So up he got, and running from one room to another, wagged his tail and barked his Christmas greetings in his best manner. The children sat up in their beds and laughed at him.
“Merry Christmas, Mother Hubbard, Merry Christmas, Jumping Joan, Merry Christmas Georgie Porgie!” rang out the greetings. In a twinkling, the boys and girls were out of bed and jumping into their clothes as fast as ever they could.
Little Miss Muffet bit her tongue in her hurry to get her dress over her head. She might have stopped to cry but she put her stockings the wrong side out, but did not take time to change them then. Mother Hubbard could not find her spectacles and looked every place for them except the back of her head, where she found them at last.
When everyone was dressed, they ran from their rooms and down the hall. Boy Blue and Georgie Porgie fell over each other and rolled half way down the stairs. Neither was hurt, however, and they both got up, laughing.
Oh, what a jolly breakfast on that Christmas morning before it was yet light outside! Mother Hubbard let Jack and Jill put tiny candles at each place. When the yellow bowls full of steaming porridge were set around, the lamp light was blown out and the candles lit. Mother Hubbard’s dining-room was a cheerful place indeed, with the light from the candles and the fire to make things bright. Pom and Mary’s lamb were given a little table of their own. It was very low and was set before the crackling fire.
Just as the children were sitting down to the table, a voice called from the living-room, “Merry Christmas!” They turned to see who it might be and there was the Ten O’Clock Scholar coming into the dining-room, tying his tie. He had slept fast through all the noise of Christmas Morning.
“Oh, sleepy Scholar,” they called to him, “what made you come so soon?”
“Do you think I meant to sleep on Christmas morning?” he asked. “I should say not. Why, I did not sleep a wink all night watching and waiting for the morning to come. But I must have dozed away just before the rest of you got up. I am not a bit sleepy now.”
While the children did the morning work, Mother Hubbard and Jack Horner went into the front room to give a last touch to the Christmas tree before opening the doors.
It was now daylight outside, but Mother Hubbard pulled down the shades in this room to make it dark. Then the little candles were lit and the doors thrown open.
“Oh, oh, oh!” gasped the children, holding their breath, as they saw the giant tree, the blazing candles and the glittering gold and silver tinsel. The strings of snow pop-corn and chains of scarlet cranberries and colored balls made the tree beautiful, indeed, and the children clapped their hands with joy to see it.
Then they all joined hands and walked round and round the tree singing Christmas carols. They were very very happy little boys and girls! Afterwards, when they had settled themselves on the floor, Mother Hubbard handed the presents from the tree to them.
Everybody held their Christmas bundles in their laps until Mother Hubbard had given out the last one. They wanted to open them all at once but it was very hard to keep from peeking under the pretty ribbons that tied them. How they laughed when Mother Hubbard took a round clock from the tree and handed it to the scholar.
“For our Ten O’Clock Scholar,” the card tied to it read, “he used to come at ten o’clock but now he comes at noon.”
What presents there were when, at last, they were all opened.
Jack and Jill found twin slates with sponges and boxes of bright-colored pencils. Mary had a box of ribbons and a little lace cap to wear mornings before breakfast. Bo-Peep got a lovely new crook tied with a silver bell. Boy Blue found a big silver horn on which he could play wonderful tunes. Georgie Porgie had a pair of leather gloves and a fine whip to use when driving his father’s horse to town. Jumping Joan got a story book and a skipping rope of red cord with wooden handles. Little Miss Muffet received a box of paints and a book of fine pictures which she could color. The Ten O’Clock Scholar found a book which told him all about wild animals, while Jack Horner got a strong knife made of steel which could cut any wood that grows. Of course, there were many, many other gifts besides these I have told about.
The children left their toys and stood by Mother Hubbard as she opened the bundles they had given her.
“My, my,” was all that she could say as she looked at her presents. There was the cane made from a willow wand that Boy Blue gave her; the tea cozy, Joan had made with her own little hands; the tortoise shell comb that Jack and Jill brought; the blue cushion filled with fragrant pine needles which Jack Horner had gathered; the white lace apron that Mary had sewed; and many, many more things, too.
“You are the dearest children in the world,” said Mother Hubbard, blowing her nose and wiping a few tears of joy from her kind eyes.
The sounds from the dining-room told that Elsie Marley was setting the table for dinner.
“Ding,” went the clock on the mantel twelve times, just as the last fork and plate were put on the table in the dining-room. Then Pom came into the front room and struck a dinner gong with his tail three times.
The big turkey, smoking hot, stood at the head of the table which was trimmed with sprigs of holly. A glass dish of cranberry sauce stood at one side of the platter and around it were bowls of mashed potatoes covered with melted butter; rich brown gravy, and golden squash. There were plates full of raisin bread and dishes of jelly and the other good things that always go with a Christmas dinner.
Elsie Marley carved the bird and the children held their breath as she plunged the sharp knife into the juicy breast and cut the tender meat off in thick slices. Jack Horner sat at the head of the table and put large spoonfuls of vegetables on each plate.
“We will never want anything more to eat as long as we live,” the children said when the last morsel of pudding was gone and they were eating raisins.
The afternoon passed all too quickly with so many new toys to play with and so much candy and nuts to eat.
There was not much playing that night after supper. The Ten O’Clock Scholar and little Joan were nodding their heads and blinking their eyes before the evening meal was over.