Welcome to the Christmas season at SteynOnline. If you're short of gift ideas, we have some bargains galore among this year's Steynamite Christmas specials - and as always we will have a full panoply of seasonal programming in the days ahead.
As I've emphasized since we launched The Mark Steyn Club last year, our regular content will always be free to everyone around the world, but we are admitting Club members to a few experimental features which, in the event they're sufficiently non-incompetent, we may eventually make more widely available. Tales for Our Time is one such - my series of monthly audio adventures, which over the past two-and-a-half years has presented serializations of H G Wells, Scott Fitzgerald, Conrad, Kipling, Kafka and more. To access them all, please see our easy-to-navigate Netflix-style Tales for Our Time home page. You'll notice we also have a special selection from my readings of Christmas stories - from Charles Dickens to O Henry, Louisa May Alcott to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ...oh, and some fellow called Steyn. We've introduced a similar tile format for my Sunday Poems and also for our audio and video music specials - and the latter likewise contains a Christmas section of live performances from The Mark Steyn Show of "White Christmas", "Silent Night", "I'll Be Home for Christmas" and more.
But, ever since my reading of A Christmas Carol (of which more next weekend), seasonal stories have been a special part of our annual Yuletide festivities. As First Day Founding Member Wayne Carmichael wrote of last year's tales:
What a Christmas present this is! Thank you, Mark, and Merry Christmas!
My pleasure, Wayne. For the 2019 festive season I've picked two authors about as different as one can imagine. We begin with a second trip to Anne of Green Gables, whom we first visited last year in the company of Anne fan Michele Bachmann. 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 could not refer it to Marilla, who, he felt, would be quite sure to sniff scornfully and remark that the only difference she saw between Anne and the other girls was that they sometimes kept their tongues quiet while Anne never did. This, Matthew felt, would be no great help.
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 first of our 2019 seasonal stories, prefaced by my own introduction to L M Montgomery's tale, Mark Steyn Club members should please click here and log-in.
We launched The Mark Steyn Club over two-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 Fargo to Fiji, Vancouver to Vanuatu, Cook County to the Cook Islands, West Virginia to the West Midlands. As I emphasized at the time, membership isn't for everyone, but it is a way of ensuring that all our content remains available for everyone.
That said, we are offering our Club members a few extras, including our monthly audio adventures. We're very pleased by the response to Tales for Our Time - and we even do them live on our annual Mark Steyn Club Cruise. We'll be presenting another Tale along with live editions of The Mark Steyn Show and much more on next year's Mediterranean cruise.
I'm truly thrilled that one of the most popular of our Steyn Club extras these last two years has been our nightly radio serials. If you've enjoyed them 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, Mark's Mailbox, and our other video content;
~My video series of classic poetry;
~Booking for special members-only events such as this year's Mark Steyn Christmas Show and my conversation with Douglas Murray;
~Priority booking for the above-mentioned Third Annual Mark Steyn Club Cruise from Rome to Gibraltar, Barcelona and Monte Carlo 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 yarns 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 the second of our seasonal tales by L M Montgomery.