Christmas Eve in the Baker home was happily indulgent. Mrs. Baker read the nativity story to Emilie and Robert before they went upstairs. From their cozy beds, they watched fluffy, white snow drift down outside their windows and nodded off.
I remembered how later I was awakened by clatter and a bump, bump, bump on the stairs, and how I tiptoed to the hall and heard a voice reproach, “George, you’ve dropped the sled!” “Great Scott, don’t I know it, Kitty?” A ripple of laughter followed the gruff whisper, mother had a lovely laugh. Father’s voice again, “Sssh! You’ll wake the children.” And I thought of the following dawn when my brother and I, in slippers and nighties, stole down the stairs, and of my shivery excitement as I cautiously opened the living room door and sniffed the spicy scent of balsam, the smokey smell of cannel coal smoldering among its bright red embers in the open grate, and saw the grotesquely bulging stockings hanging from a mantel festooned with strings of pop-corn and cranberries and the odd-shaped packages on the floor in the weird, ruddy firelight. Emilie Loring, Boston Post, 1942
“Christmas, you have a pretty laugh, Kit, it’s like music.” Beyond the Sound of Guns
George Baker wrote a Christmas play each year for the magazine Our Boys and Girls which Rachel, Emilie and Robert performed at home on Christmas Day. One year, it was an adaptation of Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol.” Another year, it was an original play called “Santa Claus Frolics,” in which the children try to wait up to catch Santa in the act of delivering presents but fall asleep after all, and their presents are delivered in secret. Yet another year, it was the story of “The Merry Christmas of the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe.”
Mrs. Baker bore cheerfully the emptying of her house to create an eighteen-by-fifteen foot stage or to build a ten-foot-long wooden shoe. When preparations were completed, performances at the Baker home often ran for seven nights. Scenery was painted on canvas, and a row of candles served as footlights. After the performance, there were congratulations for the performers, followed by chicken salad, “feather light Parker House rolls,” coffee, and “huge quantities of vanilla ice cream” for the children. At evening’s end, the guests called “Good night! Happy New Year!” over the sound of sleigh bells, and the children were sent upstairs.
“Poor mother. She was a heroine; she would see her treasures trucked off to set a stage without one protest. Now that I have a house of my own, I know how it must have hurt.” With Banners
Her mother’s dark hair was dressed to show the lovely shape of her head. The brilliancy of her brown eyes and the satin texture of her magnolia tinted skin were accentuated by a green frock… she was still vividly beautiful. As Long As I Live
“It’s late. Scamper to bed, youngsters,” father said. And I remember that as I reached the top of the stairs, I turned and saw my father and mother looking up. She was wearing a dark green silk dress, a coral brooch fastened her round lace collar, and coral dangled from her ears. One of us had stuck a sprig of holly from the Christmas pudding in her brown hair. Father’s arm was around her waist, her head against his shoulder. I remember wondering why suddenly my eyes pricked as if filled with sand and my throat was so tight I couldn’t swallow, and I remember how those queer feelings melted into warmth and glow and how I felt as if tender, protecting arms had closed around me as mother called softly, “I’ll be up to tuck you in, dear.” How secure and safe I felt, and how sorry for the children who didn’t act in a play on Christmas. Emilie Loring, Boston Post, 1942
Happy Landings: The Life Behind Emilie Loring’s Stories
Have wonderful holidays in your own, cozy homes, and thanks for joining me here. That is a gift I appreciate each time it is given. Patti