The Christmas Present by Richmal Crompton

The Christmas Present“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.


Farmyard (1863) Camille Pissarro
~ source Wikiart

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.

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve – John Everett Millais
~ source Wikiart

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!


15 thoughts on “The Christmas Present by Richmal Crompton

  1. i see the humor in this, partly because i’m going hard of hearing myself; Mary has made me buy hearing aids as she’s really fed up with me saying “What?”,lol… aside from that, this seems like a pretty interesting tale, with attention paid to one of the realities of human existence, and illustrating the impermanence of what people consider to be cast in stone, haha…

    • I haven’t reached this joyful period of life yet. It illustrates that it’s best to develop patience for each other from the first day of marriage, lol! Did you know that in spite of being so intelligent, G.K. Chesterton could never keep his calendar straight and he would always rely on his wife to tell him where he should be going. I think there’s a joke about him calling her to ask her where he should be and she said, “Home!”

  2. Sounds like a interesting but sad story. I’m getting ready to start listening to an audio production of A Christmas Carol narrated by Hugh Grant. I think this will be like my third or fourth time reading it. 🙂

    • I find it so difficult to listen to audiobooks but starting with short stories might get me started. Yes, it was nice to read about your enjoyment of Lilith. I’ll listen to a sample of it on Librivox.

  3. I’ve never read anything by Richmal Crompton, although I’ve been aware of her for years. This short story sounds quite intriguing.
    I really must try an audio book one of these days. They seem so popular and the technology is really good, but I always just seem to come back to the printed word.
    Love your choice of art work, particularly Millais’ “Christmas Eve”!

    • I’d never heard of her and it was a spur of the moment choice. I’m glad I read it but I’m not running to read more.

      I love the printed word too. I can never pay attention to audiobooks and have to keep going back again. Unless it’s Shakespeare, which I read along with the audio or performance. You just cannot replace a physical book!

      Finding artwork for my posts is almost as fun as writing them. I’ve discovered so many lovely paintings.

  4. I’ve heard of Crompton’s “William” books from blogger Simon Thomas at Stuck In A Book. I think she generally wrote humorous books. This at least sounds a little more cheerful than the Chekhov story! Unfortunately I have no suggestions for you. I have only read a few Dickens’ Christmas stories and one from Truman Capote (A Christmas Memory, which is probably already in your anthology). I typically don’t read seasonally.

    • I’ve started to read Christmas books around Christmas for only about the last couple of years. I’m glad because there are many stories out there and they help get one into the Christmas spirit. 😇

      I really should read another Dicken’s Christmas story other than A Christmas Carol but that one is hard to top!

  5. snow down here, hope you don’t have too much of it! and here’s for a very Merry Christmas to you and those you love!!

    • Thanks, Mudpuddle! To You and Mrs. M, too!! We only have about 4 inches but it’s cold! It went down to -15ºC one night (5ºF). Today I was skating on a frozen pond and it was much better … only -4ºC. Take care!

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