It's time for our second Christmas story by Stephen Leacock. Tonight's tale begins a little unseasonally:
This Santa Claus business is played out. It's a sneaking, underhand method, and the sooner it's exposed the better.
For a parent to get up under cover of the darkness of night and palm off a ten-cent necktie on a boy who had been expecting a ten-dollar watch, and then say that an angel sent it to him, is low, undeniably low.
I had a good opportunity of observing how the thing worked this Christmas, in the case of young Hoodoo McFiggin, the son and heir of the McFiggins...
And, after the disappointments of the McFiggin Christmas stocking, we look at Yuletide a generation later and from the opposite perspective - that of an older and somewhat lonely man. Almost all of the institutions to which he refers are what Burke would have called "the little platoons", and almost all are weaker than when Leacock wrote about them.
Members of The Mark Steyn Club can hear me read Hoodoo McFiggin's Christmas and Christmas Rapture simply by clicking here and logging-in. Our first Stephen Leacock Yuletide yarn can be found here - and a cavalcade of Christmas tales by everyone from Dickens to Steyn is awaiting you here.
Thank you for all your kind comments about our Christmas Tales for Our Time. Jan Schiebout, a First Week Founding Member of The Mark Steyn Club, writes from Florida:
Oh, Mark - what a magnificent TFOT! And what a perfect choice. Embarrassingly, I had never read Leacock - but the despondency of the post-war Father Christmas perfectly matches the encompassing dark spirit surrounding our world this Christmas. I was transported into the story, longing for the taste of a mulled wine.
The ruined presents of Christmases past, the embers of a dying fire, the tattered books meant for children who would never receive them. What an editorial on wars, past and present! Yet - glimpses of hope, both in the reignited fire, and the writer, pledging to repair a broken toy horse.
These short stories will keep me sane this Christmas, as I prepare to sing three concerts, where a good portion of the backup chorus has now been so spooked by the news of the new Covid variant, they will now sing it masked. Insane. They were also the deciding votes in canceling the celebratory after-party, as well. Ho, Bah, Humbug.
As always, superlative creative narration. Thank you so much! You're the Christmas gift that keeps on giving.
Thank you, Jan. Paul Cathey, a Colorado Steyn Clubber, also enjoyed it:
Thank you, Mark, for the introduction of Stephen Leacock into the Tales, an author unknown to me. And, as usual, the music you have chosen to accompany the story is pitch perfect, and, in this case, very moving. Father Christmas's anguish at the loss of his children brought to mind a WWII Norman Rockwell painting (probably for a Saturday Evening Post cover) of a young girl kneeling in prayer in the ruins of a bombed building, her thin body enrobed in the battered field jacket of a U.S. Army sergeant.
That music, for those as taken by it as Paul, was by Schönberg. But fortunately (at least for my ears) a most unSchönbergian Schönberg. Christmas, apparently, could do that to him.