Aunt Mai’s Budget Christmas Letter

Aunt Mai’s Budget Christmas Letter

By Mrs. Francis F. Steinthal
The Parents’ Review, 1898, pp. AMB 133-134

My dear Children,—This month I can again wish you all a very Merry Christmas. We have spent a happy year together. The Art Club has increased very rapidly, and the progress you have made has much pleased me. The other day I showed a portfolio containing the Joan of Arc skeleton to a little girl of four-and-a-half, who asked a great many questions about the little girl who was listening. She was much impressed with one picture, where Joan is surrounded by palings. A few days after I received a little coloured chalk sketch of a girl with one hand up, and the little artist sent word she was sorry she could not do palings. So you see how your work inspires others to try. The Little Authors have also much improved, and next year I hope this section will be a large and important one. One of your cousins who used to write tales for the Budget wrote to me the other day and told me that she now has her tales accepted by two editors of children’s magazines. Don’t you all feel now that you must begin to write? I want you all before enjoying your own Christmas presents to remember to give pleasure to either Curley or Ellen at St. Chads’ Home, Far Headingley, Leeds, or your little child in the Order of Chivalry.

I should like all the rest of you to give the dickybirds a Christmas tree. Have you ever heard of such a thing? Well, I will tell you how to prepare it. Choose a nice tree in the garden, not too high, and not too thick. Hang on the boughs two cocoa-nuts, each cut in half, and suspend them with string so that the birds can sit on the edge and peck well at the food. Then get a little mutton fat and hang that on, just as you put candles on your own tree. Then here and there fasten on crusts of bread, with plenty of bread left on, and when the tree is ready, go to a distance, or watch from a window the delight of the birds when they find they have got a real Christmas tree of their own. This year I am not sending any Christmas cards, as you, my dear nieces and nephews, have increased to such an extent, that it would take me nearly a week to address them, and you know that mothers, who have big boys and girls, have not got so much time to spare at Christmas, have they?

Instead of a card, I have asked a great friend if he will write, especially for you, a Christmas hymn, which we hope you will learn by heart.

Your loving, very loving,

Auntie Mai


The Song of the Children

This is our world till sunset—

Holly and fire and snow,

And the name of our dead brother,

That loved us long ago.

The grown folk, mighty and cunning,

They write his name in gold;

But we remember a little

Of the million tales he told.

He taught them laws and watchwords,

To strive and parley and pray;

But he taught us, deep in the hay-field,

The games that the angels play.

Had he dwelt for ever amongst us,

Their world had been wise as ours,

And the kings be cutting capers,

And the priests be picking flowers.

But the dark day came: they gathered,

In their faces we could see

They had taken and slain our brother,

And hanged him upon a tree.

Gilbert Chesterton