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Purloined Christmas Transcript
Here’s Rita Smith with a story about something that went missing one Christmas.
Casting about for an interesting children’s Christmas story, I found one in the December 1897 issue of St. Nicholas Magazine for Children that gives new meaning to the phrase “seize the day.” The story, written by Gelette Burgess is entitled “The Purloined Christmas”.
It seems that the twelve Months who live in the house of Year woke up one morning and discovered that during the night, some holidays had been stolen: “February had lost her 14th. July’s fourth was missing. October looked in vain for her last day, while November could find but three Thursdays in her set. But, worst of all, the 25th of December was gone! Father Time was furious. St. Valentine, ghosts, hobgoblins, Uncle Sam, and Santa Claus were distraught. Only the turkeys seemed not to regret the larceny.
After many inquiries, Summer Solstice confessed that she had, the evening before the theft occurred, let in a mortal, a beautiful fast talking beggar maid. The months immediately knew that the only mortal clever enough to gain entrance to the House of Year would be the Princess Pittipums, who, they assumed, had stole their days. When the months confronted her, she confessed that she was indeed the thief, and told them she had hidden the days in places she was sure no one would ever look for them. February 14th she had hidden in the heart of a crusty old bachelor, the 4th of July she had concealed in the crown of the Queen of England. The last day of October had been tucked into a light bulb; and Thanksgiving day was buried in the northeast corner of her barnyard, guarded by a patrol of turkeys. But she refused to reveal where Christmas was hidden.
On Christmas Eve, Santa Clause was in despair, but, hoping against hope, he packed his toy and prepared for the ride. At 11 in the evening, Father Time made one last appeal, reminding the Princess of all the millions of little children asleep in their beds dreaming of Santa Claus and toys and sugarplums.
This thought did sadden the Princess, but, she explained, “the 25th of December is my birthday, and I want to keep it out of the Year, so that I may never grow any older!”
“Oh, no one grows older on Christmas day,” Father Time assured her, “indeed, everyone grows younger!” Upon hearing this, the Princess took a very merry Christmas out of her sleeve where it had been all the time. It was 30 seconds to midnight. The stolen day had been returned just in the nick of time and with a whoop, Santa sprant to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, and away they all flew, like the down of a thistle.