“Mary Clay looked out of the window of the old farmhouse.”
I’ve deviating from my Everyman Christmas compilation with a Christmas story out of a collection of Librivox short stories. The Christmas Present was written by Richmal Crompton, an English woman author, and is a curious story in more ways than one. Let’s find out why …
Mary Clay lives in an old farmhouse with her husband. Previous to her marriage, her days had been contented, as Mary eschewed company and was happy with her sewing and reading after hard days of work on the farm. However, since her marriage, she has had no peace. The constant yelling of her name from different parts of the house summoning her to her husband’s presence, his continual demands and especially his reading of the newspaper in a loud grating voice, had turned her peaceful life into an aggravated existence.
A week before Christmas, they receive a letter from her aunt inviting them to visit for Christmas and although her husband complains about Mary’s relatives, she knows he actually enjoys the social interaction. And so they go.
Mary’s aunt is, in fact, as deaf as a doorpost and has been that way since she suddenly became this way at 34 years of age. Curiously, her mother and grandmother went deaf at exactly the same age. On Christmas Eve, Mary’s uncle is trying to get his wife to hear him to send her on an errand and laments her deafness. When the two men leave to walk to the village, Mary’s aunt suddenly speaks to her. Unsettled, Mary responds and her aunt responds to her. Mary is in shock as her aunt admits she is able to hear as well as anyone. Then she offers Mary an unusual Christmas present. Her deafness is the present, as she was given it by her mother and her mother by her mother before her.
Will Mary accept this peculiar present? You will have to read it to discover Mary’s choice.
What an odd story but I must admit that it’s sort of grown on me. It’s both sad that Mary (and her aunt and relatives) have such troublesome relationships with their husbands that they have to come up with such an extreme strategy to escape them, but also funny that they choose such an atypical remedy. It’s interesting that Crompton never married so I wonder where she received such a negative impression of married life.
I’m not sure what i’m going to read next. Perhaps I’ll go back to my Everyman book or I might listen to another story from Librivox. And if anyone has recommendations of any Christmas short stories that are excellent, please let me know!