There Are No More Oranges
It would be the last of its kind.
My sister and I bought five shillings worth of toys from the charity bazaar for our tree. Beads, tinsel, paper ornaments, a popcorn string, jeweled baubles of all kinds, and two oranges—we’d have them after a long day of adventure.
Several hours later, Jane and I started on the Christmas Tree. The beauty of it touched the damp on the ceiling. We did up part of the presents – the principal ones were covered in assorted colored paper. We allowed mother in the living space, but she wouldn’t assist us because father was growing increasingly annoyed by our fevered clamor. The tree looked lovely– it ought to have been a huge success. We couldn’t understand why my father remained steadfastly stern. I don’t know how to explain his daily countenance in those times, but to say wood, his face had hardened. He had no interest in Yuletide affairs.
On the other hand, we girls had never seen a tree look more winsome. It was simply crammed with childhood contentment.
Mother had gone back into the room, the room with father. One naughty wink from my sister Jane was all it took. We were headed towards the room, stilly to meddle in our parents’ affairs.
We placed our prying ears to the door, ever so gently, and we heard him say:
‘My hours are going down— we can’t afford these. We can’t afford these godforsaken—’
Their conversation was cut short. Our little feet could be heard absconding from possible consequence.
Christmas arrived, and father transpired once more— he tottered out of his room. He was cross, his face was wood.
Blind happiness had abandoned us; quickly it was replaced with sustenance. I passed father an orange, I had forgotten all about its existence.
His sternness briefly melted… or maybe this is just the story we share every Christmas thenceforth. It places a twinkle upon my sister’s countenance, at least.
There isn’t much Yuletide to be found in a workhouse. Nor are there any more oranges.