THE REGISTER

BERWICK, NOVA SCOTIA

December 22, 1937

A Christmas Debt Paid

By Blanche Tanner Dillin

"GRAND’THER, isn’t that the most beautiful doll you ever saw?" The little hand tugged at the hand of the tall man. He looked down at the childish figure beside him. "I wish I had one like her," the child said in a low tone.

The man mused with a tender smile, "It is very beautiful, dear, - but I thought I heard you say that you had all the dolls you could care for."

"Well – I did," came the faltering answer "but" – as though an inspiration had presented itself – "I could give some away I s’pose." The man’s clasp tightened on the child’s hand, and then he reminded her gently that they must hurry on if they were to be home in time for luncheon. Although there were many other interesting toys in the department of the great store, the child showed little interest in them, and managed to work their way back to the object of her affection, and stood enraptured before it until her grandfather again reminded her that they really must be on their way home.

As the child reluctantly followed, the man recalled another dark eyed Marcia standing before just such a doll and heard again almost the same words this Marcia had used today. "Isn’t," she had said, "that doll in pink just beautiful? I wish I had one like it." And he heard the man beside her reply: "You have more dolls now than you know what to do with," and he had added, "That is too expensive anyway." "Oh is it?" the child had asked in surprise. "Yes, everything in this store is." He hadn’t known whether it was or not. Later he asked himself many times why he hadn’t given the doll to the child, and he resolved that never again would he be the cause of a hurt look such as he had seen in the little one’s eyes that day. From then on, he determined to grant her every wish that he possibly could and so alone for the unnecessary suffering he had caused.

Christmas night John Grant sat alone before the fire, his head against the back of the chair, his eyes closed and a smile of content upon his face. The door opened and a young woman’s voice called softly – "Father."

"Yes, my dear," he answered as he turned toward her.

"Mother wants to know if you aren’t coming to bed," the young woman said as she came into the room.

"Tell your mother I’ll be there in just a minute," the man replied with a laugh.

"Do you know, father, I think that you have made Marcia the happiest little girl in the world tonight," Marcia Field said as she went and sat on the arm of her father’s chair.

Her father put his arm around her. "I’m glad if I did," he told her.

"Do you know that doll reminds me of one I wanted many years ago. I thought that I never would be happy if I didn’t have that doll," Marcia laughed at the memory.

"And I wouldn’t buy it for you," her father frowned.

"Why father, do you remember that?" the daughter asked in surprise.

"I have never forgotten it, and I resolved never to be the cause of hurting you or anyone as I had you that day."

"Why, you old dear." Marcia laughed as she hugged him. "I haven’t thought of it for years." And then she said suddenly as a light of understanding broke upon her. "That is why you always have done so much for me, and why you gave Marcia that doll today, isn’t it?" John Grant’s smile was the only answer he gave for a moment, and then he said: "If I have succeeded in making both or either of you happy, I shall be happy, too, for I shall feel that I have at least in part paid a Christmas debt long overdue."

"Dear, dear father," Marcia lovingly assured him, "you don’t know how well you have succeeded."

"Then I am content."


THE REGISTER

BERWICK, NOVA SCOTIA

December 22, 1937

When Christmas Grew

By Frances Grinstead

He was a small boy named Tim who had never been more than ten miles from his home in the Ozark hills. His teacher said he couldn’t even bound Arkansas, his own state, but what his teacher didn’t know was how well he knew the mountain "crick" and the hill slopes circled with green-gold pine trees that bounded his father’s tiny farm. He also knew what it took to keep a family of six children and that for as long as he could remember his father’s farm had scarcely been able to produce enough to stretch over every need.

It was just before Christmas time that he heard his father tell his mother that if there was to be anything "extra" to give the day its meaning for the children, he’d have to get the ax and hack out a few ties. Her face went white, for she knew what that meant. So often had they been forced to remain on the hacking of a few ties to be sold to the railroad for dire necessities that practically all their timber available for that purpose was gone. And trees don’t grow over night. She could tell by the look on her husband’s face that he was taking a desperate and back-breaking chance of finding a few logs tough enough for the commission man to buy.

As she looked out of the window and saw the passing cars of winter "touristers" on the new scenic road the government had built through the hills, she wondered by what magic folks could come to own automobiles and take time off like that to go traveling. But she hadn’t many moments to spare on such thoughts, for her husband had returned to say that the ax was gone. Could one of the children have taken it?

The father had borrowed an ax from a willing neighbor but on the day before Christmas he was silent as he unhitched his team in the wagon lot. Christmas tomorrow and he had been forced to bring back the load from town. The commission man had been truly sorry, for he did need ties; yet none of these were large enough.

He crept up to a window, lost in the sense of failure that made him ashamed to walk to his own door. There an odd sight straightened him. Inside were Tim and his mother joyously trimming a Christmas tree. Tim raced to the door to keep the younger children from bursting gleefully into the room and learning its great secret.

When the father entered the house, no one asked him about the ties. "Dad, dad!" Tim shouted. "Do you know those red berry trees that grow way up the crick? Awful hard to get to, but when I found ‘em I thought they were so purty I took some to school. The teacher said, ‘that’s holly’ and then I read about holly and learned that folks will pay for it to have it for Christmas. So I gathered a lot of it and made me a holly stand up on the new road just hopin’ they would. And dad, they did buy it! Stopped their cars and said, ‘Why it’s holly; who would have thought we’d find it here!’ They wanted so much I had to work awful hard getting it, but gee, it was fun! I wanted to surprise mom and you, and now I’ll tell you both that I made $27.82. There’s $20 right now in that bureau drawer left after buying our Christmas. Gee dad, I love this old farm! It’s got lots of surprises on it yet. This one ain’t the last one."

The father brushed a tear from his eye and kissed his wife. Then he shook hands with Tim. "You’re the kind of son a man can be right proud to own," he choked.

"But dad, will you forgive me?" the boy suddenly implored.

"Why Tim, forgive you what?" the father asked in surprise.

The boy led the way to the kitchen. "You see dad, I just had to have it?"

The father pretended to frown as Tim pointed and then he winked.

"Well, being as it’s just about Christmas for us, as well as the rest of the world, I guess I’ll have to overlook it." For there in a far corner of the room stood the ax. It was Tim who had borrowed it.


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