'Tis the season at SteynOnline: we have plenty of 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 a stateroom on the Mark Steyn Caribbean Cruise, where, aside from Eva and Conrad and Snerdley and Leilani, we'll do a live Tale for Our Time - maybe even a return visit to Green Gables with a celebrity Anne fan.
~Welcome to Advent at SteynOnline. We started with a rather dark tale that could have come straight from the last week's headlines, and continued with composer Hugh Martin telling me about his blockbuster Christmas standard. But beloved seasonal stories have always been a special part of our Yuletide festivities. As Wayne Carmichael, a First Day Founding Member Wayne Carmichael, put it a couple of festive seasons back:
What a Christmas present this is! Thank you, Mark, and Merry Christmas!
My pleasure, Wayne.
Our second Christmas Tale is also a second trip to Anne of Green Gables. For me (and also for my little girl, when I first read the book to her as a nightly serial), one of the most touching aspects of L M Montgomery's all-time Canadian blockbuster has always been the relationship between aged taciturn Matthew Cuthbert, the farmer who wanted a boy to help him out, and young garrulous Anne Shirley, the orphan girl he wound up with instead. In his own way, he understands Anne rather better than his sister Marilla does - and so, in tonight's excerpt, an elderly rustic who knows nothing of ladies' fashions discerns just before Christmas that the little girl is ...missing something:
He had come into the kitchen, in the twilight of a cold, gray December evening, and had sat down in the woodbox corner to take off his heavy boots, unconscious of the fact that Anne and a bevy of her schoolmates were having a practice of "The Fairy Queen" in the sitting room. Presently they came trooping through the hall and out into the kitchen, laughing and chattering gaily. They did not see Matthew, who shrank bashfully back into the shadows beyond the woodbox with a boot in one hand and a bootjack in the other, and he watched them shyly for the aforesaid ten minutes as they put on caps and jackets and talked about the dialogue and the concert. Anne stood among them, bright eyed and animated as they; but Matthew suddenly became conscious that there was something about her different from her mates. And what worried Matthew was that the difference impressed him as being something that should not exist. Anne had a brighter face, and bigger, starrier eyes, and more delicate features than the other; even shy, unobservant Matthew had learned to take note of these things; but the difference that disturbed him did not consist in any of these respects. Then in what did it consist?
Matthew was haunted by this question long after the girls had gone, arm in arm, down the long, hard-frozen lane and Anne had betaken herself to her books...
He had recourse to his pipe that evening to help him study it out, much to Marilla's disgust. After two hours of smoking and hard reflection Matthew arrived at a solution of his problem. Anne was not dressed like the other girls!
To hear me read "Matthew Insists on Puffed Sleeves", the second of this year's seasonal stories, prefaced by my own introduction to L M Montgomery's tale, Mark Steyn Club members should please click here and log-in.
As I've emphasised since we launched The Mark Steyn Club six-and-a-half years ago, our regular content will always be free to everyone around the world, but we are admitting Club members to a few additional features which, in the event they're sufficiently non-incompetent, we may eventually make more widely available. Tales for Our Time is one such - our series of audio adventures, which over the years has presented serialisations of H G Wells, Scott Fitzgerald, George Orwell, Louisa May Alcott, Conan Doyle, Conrad, Kipling, Kafka ...oh, and some fellow called Steyn. To access over sixty of them, please see our easy-to-navigate Netflix-style Tales for Our Time home page. We've introduced a similar tile format for my Sunday Poems and also for our audio and video music specials.
We launched The Mark Steyn Club over six-and-a-half years ago, and I'm overwhelmed by all those members across the globe who've signed up to be a part of it - from Vancouver to Vanuatu, Cook County to the Cook Islands, West Virginia to the West Midlands. We're particularly pleased by the response to our audio adventures - and we'll be presenting another Tale along with live editions of The Mark Steyn Show and much more on next year's Mark Steyn Caribbean Cruise.
If you've enjoyed these yarns and you're looking for a Christmas present for a fellow fan of classic fiction, I hope you'll consider our special Club Gift Membership. Aside from Tales for Our Time, 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 chance to engage in live Clubland Q&A sessions with yours truly (such as Wednesday's);
~Transcript and audio versions of The Mark Steyn Show and our other video content;
~My video series of classic poetry;
~Priority booking for events such as our Annual Mark Steyn Cruise with Michele Bachmann, Conrad Black and my other guests;
~Advance booking for my live appearances around the world;
~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 Christmas at Green Gables but to all the other capers gathered together at the Tales for Our Time home page.
One other benefit to membership is our Comment Club privileges. So, whether you favor this Christmas vignette or not, feel free to comment away below. And do join us tomorrow for more seasonal programming.