“The Birds’ Christmas Carol”
If you are at all sentimental and believe, as I do, that no holiday season is complete with-out at least one good cry (even if it’s over a Hallmark commercial), then I highly recommend that you read “The Birds’ Christmas Carol” by Kate Douglas Wiggin, written in 1886.
This book, which my mother and Aunt Dot had read as children, was given to me for Christmas when I was about 10, and read to me by my Uncle Sam.
Wiggin wrote so descriptively, even to accents, that between her language, the colored pictures in the original edition, and my own visualization abilities, I did not just hear the story, I experienced it.
The Carol of the title is a beautiful child, born on Christmas day into a loving family who previously had only sons. Of course, as so often happened in Victorian stories, Carol develops some unnamed illness and grows weaker and weaker until she is permanently confined to her bed. Everyone in the family dotes on her , and she, in turn, brings strength into each of their lives with her sweet disposition.
For the Christmas described in this book, on which Carol would turn twelve, she decides that all she wants is to provide a marvelous holiday for the Ruggles family, a boisterous gang of poor children whom she delights in watching out her bedroom window. The description of each child, the outfits the mother creates for each of them, the manners she tries to drill into them in preparation for the great day will make you laugh right out loud. You attend the celebration rather than observing it.
Ah, and then I’m sure you can predict what happens as evening turns to Christmas morning, the choir of the local church, heard through the bedroom window singing, “Carol, Brothers, Carol. Carol Joyfully.” Of course they had been singing this same song the morning Carol was born, and thus her name.
One year I was reading this book chapter by chapter to my own children and some kids in the neighborhood. Though I had heard and read the story many times over, when I reached a certain point, I just started sobbing. One neighbor child said, “Darn, now I’ll never know how the story ends.”
But I did read the rest of the story, and I have to believe that it still has a place in the heart of all who have heard or read it.
© Dorothy C. Judd
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