Happy first night of Hanukkah to our many Jewish readers around the world. It's also the Christmas season at SteynOnline and, as has been traditional round these parts for many years, we have bargains galore among our Steynamite seasonal specials - although they're all but certain to arrive after the big day, unless you're extra generous and sufficiently fond of your loved one to stump up for the gift that lasts all year or the gift that's once in a lifetime.
As always we have a full slate of holiday programming for you, including this year's edition of The Mark Steyn Christmas Show - which is absolutely free for one and all. Meanwhile, I'm delighted to say that the first of this year's selections for Tales for Our Time - Christmas at Green Gables ...and Beyond - was especially well received. Peter Jones, a First Weekend Founding Member of The Mark Steyn Club, writes of L M Montgomery's festive tales:
These are such lovely, charming stories. Simply told but with wonderful texture! As I listen, I'm right there at the fireplace with my hot cup of tea, visualizing the scene, nodding my head, as if I'm part of the conversation.
Okay, so I'm sipping my martini and listening online.... and enjoying every bit of this holiday 'Yuletide Tale'!
Your martini may be even more necessary for the second of our Christmas entertainments this season, Peter. It brings us back to the author of one of our most popular tales, Jack London, last glimpsed round these parts a couple of chilly winters back trying To Build a Fire. In this first tale of A Klondike Christmas, prefaced by my 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 I have seen mock turtle soup on any menu, 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 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 my own introduction to the story, please click here and log-in.
By the way, if Jack London and L M Montgomery are all very well but you pine for a Dickensian Christmas, you'll find Ebenezer Scrooge holding down the fort on The Mark Steyn Christmas Show. As Nicola Timmerman raved:
Orson Bean as Scrooge the highlight of the show.
He's very affecting in the role. Don't miss it.
We launched The Mark Steyn Club in 2017, and I'm 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 I said at the time, membership isn't for everyone, but it is a way of ensuring that all our content remains available for everyone - all my columns, audio interviews, video content, all our movie features and songs of the week.
That said, if you've enjoyed our members-only bonus features such as our Steyn Club radio serials and you're looking for a Yuletide present for someone special, I hope you'll consider our Christmas Gift Membership, which this year includes a handsomely engraved Tales for Our Time sampler. Aside from our monthly 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 with yours truly;
~Transcript and audio versions of The Mark Steyn Show, Mark's Mailbox, and our other video content;
~My video series of classic poetry;
~Priority booking for the third Mark Steyn Cruise (following our first two sell-out voyages);
~Advance booking for my live appearances around the world, including members-only events such as The Mark Steyn Christmas Show;
~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 dozens of 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 the second Jack London story of our Christmas in the Klondike.