'Tis the season at SteynOnline: we have plenty of Yuletide Steynamite Specials over at the Steyn Store, including one of the world's merriest Christmas albums. And, if you really want to treat your beloved this Christmas, there's always the gift of a lifetime: a stateroom on the Mark Steyn Caribbean Cruise, with Eva Vlaardingerbroek, Conrad Black, Michele Bachmann, Bo Snerdley, Leilani Dowding, Tal Bachman and more - plus a live-performance edition of a Tale for Our Time.
~Notwithstanding Mark's bout of ill health, we have a full slate of holiday programming for you. Of our seasonal Tales for Our Time, Ross Spence, a First Month Founding Member of The Mark Steyn Club from Texas, put it this way:
Thank you for these Christmas gems... Keep them coming.
And so we will. Following our vignette from Christmas at Green Gables, here is a second and very different take on a North American Christmas. Jack London was first glimpsed round these parts six chilly winters back trying To Build a Fire. In this first tale of A Klondike Christmas, prefaced by Mark's introduction, we are somewhere near the mouth of the Stuart River, named for John Stuart, Simon Fraser's assistant on his ascent of the river in 1806. In Jack London's time it was in the North-West Territories, and is now within British Columbia. It's almost a century after Fraser's expedition, but this is still no place to look for a lavish Christmas. Yet, on this December 24th, for a young man with a yen for adventure, home is where you find it:
It was a snug little cabin in which he sat. Built of unbarked logs, measuring not more than ten by twelve feet on the inside, and heated by a roaring Yukon-stove, it seemed more homelike to him than any house he had ever lived in, except—of course, always the one, real home.
Two bunks, table and stove, occupied two-thirds of the room, but every inch of space was utilized. Revolvers, rifles, hunting-knives, belts and clothes, hung from three of the walls in picturesque confusion; the remaining one being hidden by a set of shelves, which held all their cooking utensils. Though already eleven o'clock in the morning, a sort of twilight prevailed outside, while it would have been quite dark within, if it had not been for the slush-lamp. This was merely a shallow, tin cup, filled with bacon grease. A piece of cotton caulking served for a wick; the heat of the flame melting the grease as fast as required.
He leaned his elbows on the table and became absorbed in a deep scrutiny of the lamp. He was really not interested in it, and did not even know he was looking at it, so intent was he in trying to discover what else there could possibly be for dinner...
Fried bacon, yes. Baked beans, of course. Bread raised from sour dough, sure. But what else might be procured? In the course of tonight's tale, mock turtle soup raises its mock turtle head. It is a long while since mock turtle soup has graced restaurant menus, but it is in origin an English dish from the mid-1700s. It survives a quarter-millennium on in a famous Cole Porter lyric you can enjoy with Mark and Bond villain Robert Davi here:
Is it the good turtle soup or merely the mock?
The soup is merely the mock, but the tale is the real deal. To hear A Klondike Christmas, prefaced by Mark's own introduction to the story, please click here and log-in.
We launched The Mark Steyn Club in 2017, and we're very touched by all those SteynOnline supporters across the globe - from Fargo to Fiji, Vancouver to Vanuatu, Cook County to the Cook Islands - who've signed up to be a part of it. As Mark always says, membership isn't for everyone, but it is a way of ensuring that all our content remains available for everyone - all our columns, audio interviews, video content, Rick's movie features and Steyn's songs of the week.
That said, if you've enjoyed our members-only bonus features such as our Steyn Club classic capers and you're looking for a Yuletide present for someone special, we hope you'll consider our Gift Membership. Aside from our audio adventures, The Mark Steyn Club does come with other benefits:
~Exclusive Steyn Store member pricing on over 40 books, mugs, T-shirts, and other products;
~The opportunity to engage in live Clubland Q&A sessions such as this yesterday's;
~Transcript and audio versions of The Mark Steyn Show, and our other video content;
~Mark's video series of classic poetry;
~Priority booking for the annual Mark Steyn Cruise;
~Advance booking for Mark's live appearances around the world, including members-only events such as The Mark Steyn Christmas Show, if such events are ever permitted again;
~Customized email alerts for new content in your areas of interest;
~and the opportunity to support our print, audio and video ventures as they wing their way around the planet.
To become a member of The Mark Steyn Club, please click here - and don't forget that special Gift Membership. As soon as you join, you'll get access not only to A Klondike Christmas but to the full archive of over sixty other audio adventures.
One other benefit to membership is our Comment Club privileges. So, whether A Klondike Christmas left you with a warm glow or you thought it frosted up the joint, feel free to comment away below. And do join us tomorrow for a second Jack London story of Christmas in the Klondike.