This is the first Christmas where we see Laura's family wondering how they will have a happy Christmas. The despair we see in Laura knowing that there is no way Christmas can happen is heartbreaking, but more so is the helplessness that Ma and Pa seem to have.
"After supper that night they washed their hands and faces, buttoned their red-flannel nightgowns, tied their night-cap strings, and soberly said their prayers. They lay down in bed and pulled the covers up. It did not seem at all like Christmas time.
Pa and Ma sat silent by the fire. After a while Ma asked why Pa didn't play the fiddle, and he said, "I don't seem to have the heart to, Caroline." "
"After a longer while, Ma suddenly stood up. "I'm going to hang up your stockings, girls, " she said. "Maybe something will happen."
Laura's heart jumped. But then she thought again of the creek and she knew nothing could happen."
As a child, I never understood this despair. We never had much, but if my parents ever felt this helplessness, they did not show it. But, now as an adult and most especially as a parent...I have felt this helplessness. I know Christmas isn't about the gifts under the tree or in the stockings...but it is such a horrible feeling knowing that you can't afford even a few gifts or maybe not even the tree! We have had several Christmases recently where we could not afford a tree and we could not really buy much of anything(including what would be used for mama-made gifts). So, as I read this section or other sections in later Little House books now, I can sit in Ma and Pa's seat and KNOW what they felt that night.
But...there is always a way :-)
"She sat down again by the fire and Laura almost went to sleep. She woke up a little when she heard Pa say, "You've only made it worse, Caroline." And she thought she heard Ma say: "No, Charles. There's the white sugar."
And then there is the love shown by neighbors and family. Just when one thinks there is no way and that things will be depressingly meager...He provides! How many parents have been blessed by an unknown giver? Someone decides to send a card with money for food, or gifts or they find a bag/box of presents for the children, left anonymously on their porch? This is such a beautiful gift from our Lord. And I think I learn to love Mr. Edwards in this particular section simply for his selfless giving. He is a true neighbor!
"It was too big a risk, Edwards," Pa said. "We're glad you're here, but that was too big a risk for a Christmas dinner."
"Your little ones had to have a Christmas," Mr. Edwards replied. "No creek could stop me, after I fetched them their gifts from Independence."
The most beautiful, scraggly ol' wild cat :-)
"That was a happy Christmas."
And I don't think it was because they got so very much...but the selfless love shown by one man...makes me think of the selfless love shown by our beautiful Lord.
Lots of love,