The Life and Times of Lee Graham, Chapter Six, Part One: Christmas with Mrs. White

Chapter Six, Christmas With Mrs. White
by Lulabelle Gimlin

The Christmas before Livie died, Josiah Graham was away in San Francisco.  He left two days after Thanksgiving and stayed gone until the end of March.  That winter was the best of Lee Graham's life. 

Knowing Polly's husband was away, Mrs. White invited the young mother and her to children to spend Christmas in her home.  "You can bring your children to my place the afternoon of Christmas Eve and we can walk to church together."

She meant the little church in Alma.  Polly had never been there.  In Wellsville, she'd attended the Methodist church with her parents.  Since coming to Alma with her husband, Polly never felt church was a place for her.  She'd gotten married because she had to and most everyone knew it and her husband was not what one could call a "man of God."  Josiah Graham was more a man of the world than one destined for heaven.  Polly wondered if the church doors would seal themselves shut if she tried to come in.

Still she told the older woman, "That would be real nice, Mrs. White.  My children and I would like to come to church with you." 

"I'd like it if you and Livie and Lee stayed for the whole holiday," she said.   Seeing the look on Polly's face, she could see that the young woman was wondering if Mrs. White really wanted her house full of Grahams or was she just being kind, so the woman added, "Christmas can be a lonely time if a person is all alone.  It would mean a great deal to me to have visitors, especially children, in the house." 

And so Polly and Livie and Lee arrived  at Mrs. White's late one snowy afternoon.  The house was the biggest one on Alma.  The front yard was as big as the public park down in Bolivar.  They were greeted at the door by Mrs. White's servant, a woman almost as old as Mrs. White herself.  Her  name was Esther and she ushered the Grahams into a large parlor where a fire was blazing and Mrs. White sat in a large, fluffy chair, reading a book.  Lee saw that the pages of the book were yellowed and worn and that the title was embossed in gold on its spine.  A Christmas Carol, it said. 

The woman put the book down and rose to greet her guests.  "Oh good, you're here!" she exclaimed as though she had half expected them not to show up.  Then she turned to Esther and asked, "Is it ready?" 

The woman nodded. 

"Wonderful," cried Mrs. White!  "Come with me!" 

She led her guests through a large door and into a more formal parlor.  At the center of the room, there was a large tree decorated in ribbons and candy canes.  A china angel was perched at the top.  Around the tree, there were boxes wrapped in red and green paper.  The room contained a second fireplace which was lit and burning hot. 

Mrs. White led the Grahams and Esther to the tree.  "I know it's not quite Christmas yet.  Most of the gifts are for after church, but I have one for each of you to open right now." 

"But..." started Polly. 

"There are no buts about it," said the woman.  "Christmas is for sharing.  It delights me to share with you." 

"But we have nothing to share," argued Polly. 

"You share your good company," replied the woman, who was stooping to pick up one rectangular red-wrapped box which she handed to Livie. 

"But we brought you no gifts," said Polly. 

Mrs. White was now offering a box wrapped in green to Lee who accepted it with a bright "Thanks, Ma'am!"

"There's no point in arguing," said Esther to Polly.  "Mrs. White is set on giving you and your children a Christmas to remember.  Once her mind is set, there is no point in arguing.  Trust me, I know." 

"She's quite right", said Mrs. White, handing another red-wrapped box to Polly herself before handing another to Esther, who seemed a bit surprised one of the packages was for her. 

"But I thought..." said Esther. 

"I know what you thought," said Mrs. White.  "I saw how you look at it in the window of Green's down in Bolivar.  I want you to have it.  Happy Christmas, Esther."

"Same to you, Mrs. White." 

Esther unwrapped her box as the others looked on.  Her face lit up brighter than the fire in the hearth when she saw what it contained.  The housekeeper lifted out a green, felt hat with two great feathers sticking out of the band.  Esther moved to a mirror and placed the hat atop her head. 

"Does it look as fine as you hoped?" asked Mrs. White. 

"It does!" said Hesther.  "Thank you, Ma'am.  I will wear it to church!" 

Then it was Polly's turn to open her gift.  Her box also contained a hat, one not quite so grand as Esther's.  Polly's new hat was made of cream colored felt and had no feathers.  It was a hat meant more for keeping warm than looking fashionable.  It suited Polly.  The box also contained gloves and a muffler which matched the color of the hat. 

Livie opened her box and found inside a Christmas-red coat.  It had two columns of buttons down the bodice and a collar and cuffs made of dark fur.  From the waist, the coat flared out and fell to the floor. 

"With your boots on, it will be just the right length," said Esther, handing Livie a pair of calf-high boots made of black leather. 

Lee's box also contained a coat.  His was made of heavy blue tweed and there was a hat to match.  "Wow," he said when he saw them.  "I've never seen anything so grand for a boy!"

"I hope you like it," said Mrs. White.  "Esther thought it was too bright for a boy from Alma, but somehow I thought you would like it."

"Oh, I do!" said the boy. 

"Good," said Mrs. White.  "And now it's time for a little supper before we head off to church." 

Esther led them all to the dining room.  The table was set for what appeared to be a sumptuous feast. 

To Be Continued....

Previous Chapters of The Life and Times of Lee Graham can be found here. 

* Lulabelle Gimlin is an SL RP character of Stephanie Mesler.  The Life and Times of Lou Graham is copyright Stephanie Mesler, 2014.  This story may be reprinted for inworld RP purposes with proper attribution to its author, Lulabelle Gimlin (Stephanie Mesler). 


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