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"It Was the Same Christmas Morning" Read by Brian Highlight

From Audio: Story Time — Brian reads "It Was the Same Christmas Morning"

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station description The fascinating backstories to the Christmas traditions you cherish.
Christmas Past
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Duration: 09:35
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Listen to "It Was the Same Christmas Morning" Read by Brian Highlight
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in Philadelphia, the rich and poor live cheek by jowl or rather, back to back between the streets of the rich and parallel to them, run the alleys of the poor. The rich man's garage jostles elbows with the poor man's dwelling. In a big house fronting on one of the most fashionable streets lived a little girl named Ethel. Other people lived in the big house, also. Ah, Father, a mother, Ah Butler Ah, French maid and a host of other servants. Back of the big house was the garage facing the garage. On the other side of the alley was a little old. One story and a half brick house in this house dwelt a little girl named Maggie. With her lived her father, who was a laborer, her mother, who took in washing. And a half dozen brothers, four of whom worked at something or other. While the two little list went to school, Ethel and Maggie never played together. Their acquaintance was simply a bowing one better, perhaps a smiling one from one window in the big playroom, which was so far to one side of the house that Ethel could see past the garage and get a glimpse of the window of the living room in Maggie's house. The two little girls at first stared at each other. One day. Maggie nodded and smiled. And then Ethel, feeling very much frightened for she had been cautioned against playing with or noticing the Children in the alley, nodded and smiled back. Now, neither of the Children felt happy unless they had held a Panta mimic conversation from window to window at some time during the day. It was Christmas morning. Ethel awoke very early, as all properly organized Children do. On that day, at least, she had a beautiful room in which she slept alone adjacent to it. In another room, almost as beautiful, slept Celeste. Her mama's French made Ethel had been exquisitely trained. She lay awake a long time before making a sound or movement, wishing it were timeto arise. But Christmas was strong Upon her. Thean flexion of the season was in her blood. Presently, she slipped softly out of bed, pattern across the room paused at the door, which gave entrance to the hall, which lead to her mother's apartments, then turned and plumped down upon Celeste. Merry Christmas, she cried, shaking the maid to awaken Celeste was a task of some difficulty. Ordinarily, the French woman would have been indignant at being thus summarily routed out before the appointed hour. But something of the spirit of Christmas had touched her as well. She answered the salutation of the little girl kindly enough. But as she sat up in bed, she lifted a reprove ing finger. But she said, You must keep this silence. Memoirs L Ethel Madam Volta, Madam, She must not be disturbed in the morning. She has been out very late in the night and she have to go to the bed very early. She say You must be very quiet on the matanza. Noel, I will be quiet. Celeste answered the little girl, her lip quivering at the injunction. It was so hard to be repressed all the time. But especially on Christmas Day of all others. Then I will help you dress Imedi amount and then William, he will call us to see is a tree. Never had the captions. Little girl been more docile, more obedient. Dressing Ethel that morning was a pleasure to Celeste. Scarcely had she completed the task and put on her own clothing when there was a tap on the door. What is it? Morning, Miss Celeste spoke a heavy voice outside, ah, voice subdued to a decorous softness of tone. If you and Miss Ethel already the tree is lit and the already and Monsieur William answered Celeste throwing open the door dramatically, Ethel opened her mouth to welcome the butler, for if that solemn and portentous individual ever un bent, it was to Miss Ethel, whom in his heart of hearts he adored. But he placed a warning finger to his lips and whispered in an awestruck voice. The master, your father came in late last night, Miss, and he said that there must be no noise or racket this morning. Ethel nodded sadly, her eyes filling at her disappointment. William then marched down the hall with a stately magnificence peculiar to butlers and opened the door into the playroom. He flung it wide and stood to one side like a grand year. As Celeste and Ethel entered, there was a gorgeous tree, beautifully trimmed. William had bought the tree, and Celeste's French taste had adorned it. It was a sight to delight any child's eyes and the things strewn around it on the floor were even more attractive. Everything that money could buy that Celeste and William could think of was there. Ethel's mother had given her maid cart Blanche, to buy the child. Whatever she liked, and Ethel's father had done the same with William. The two had pulled their issue, and the result was a toy shop dream. Ethel looked at the things in silence. How do you like it? Miss? Asked William, at last rather anxiously. Madamoiselle is not pleased, Questioned the Frenchwoman. It it is lovely, faltered. The little girl. We have selected them ourselves. Yes, Miss didn't mama by anything or Papa or Santa. They tell us to get whatever you would like and never mind the money. It was so good of you, I'm sure, said Ethel, struggling valiantly against disappointment, almost too great to bear. Everything is beautiful, but I I wish Mama and Papa had I wish they were here. I'd like them to wish me a merry Christmas. But little lip trembled, but the upper teeth came down on it firmly. The child had courage. William looked at Celeste. Celeste shrugged her shoulders, both knowing what was lacking. I'm sure miss that they do wish you a merry Christmas, and the butler began bravely, but the situation was too much for him. There goes the Masters bell, he said quickly and turned and stalked out of the room gravely, although Nobel had summoned him. You may go, Celeste said Ethel, with a dignity not unlike her mother's manner. The maid shrugged her shoulders again, left the room and closed the door. Everything was lovely. Everything was there except that personal touch, which means so much even to the little list girl Ethel was used to being cared for by others than her parents, but it came especially hard on her. This morning she turned, leaving the beautiful things as they had been placed about the tree and watched to the end window when she could get a view of the little house beyond the garage over the back wall. There was a Christmas tree in Maggie's house, too. It wouldn't have made a respectable branch for Ellen's tree on. The trimmings were so cheap and poor that Celeste would have thrown them into the waste basket immediately. There were a few common cheap, perishable little toys around the tree on the floor. But to Maggie, it was a glimpse of heaven. She stood in her little white nightgown, no such thing as dressing for her on Christmas morning, staring around her. The whole family was grouped about her. Even the little list brothers who went to school because they were not big enough to work forgot their own joy in watching their little sister, her father, her mother, the big boys, all in a state of more or less disheveled undressed stood around her, pointing out the first thing and then the other, which they had been able to get for her by denying themselves some of the necessities of life. Maggie was so happy that her eyes brimmed. Yet she did not cry. She laughed. She clapped her hands and kissed them all round and finally found herself a big orange in one hand, a tin trumpet in the other, perched on her father's broad shoulders, leading a frantic march around the narrow confines of the living room. As she passed by one window, she caught a glimpse of the alley. It had been snowing throughout the night in the ground was white. Oh, she screamed with delight. Let me see the snow. On Christmas morning, her father walked over to the window, parted the cheap lace curtains while Maggie clapped her hands gleefully at the prospect. Presently, she lifted her eyes and looked toward the other window, high up in the air where Ethel stood. Ah, mournful little figure Maggie's papa looked to. He knew how cheap and poor were the little gifts that he had bought for his daughter. I wish he thought that she would have some of the things that child up there has. Maggie, however, was quite content. She smiled, flourished her trumpet, waved her orange. But there was no answering smile on Ethel's face. Now, finally, the wistful little girl in the big house languidly waved her hand, and then Maggie was taken away to be dressed, lest she should catch cold after the mischief was done. I hope she's having a nice Christmas, said Maggie, referring to Ethel. I hope so, too, answered her mother, wishing that her little girl might have some of the beautiful gifts that she knew must be in that great house. Whatever she has, said Maggie gleefully, she can't have any nicer Christmas than I have that you and Papa and the boys gave me. I'm just a Xhaferri ia's. I can be over in the big house. Ethel was also wishing she was so unhappy since she had seen Maggie in the arms of her big, bearded father standing by the window that she could control herself no longer. She turned away and threw herself down on the floor in front of the tree and buried her face in her hands and burst into tears. It was Christmas morning, and she was all alone.
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