Because I intend to publish the novel from which this excerpt comes, Symphony Christmas will not be placed in Backfile.
Elanor has just realized something the other kids missed.
Stephanie half raised her hand, withdrew it, then raised it again. Neil was pleased at this crack in her normal self-confidence. He nodded, and she said, “I guess it was fair that you gave the poor kids more candy. But now you said you are going to make it all even.”
“That’s right, I am. I do like to be fair.”
Stephanie squirmed in a perplexity of near understanding. Every atom of her body was involved in the moment. She said, “But then – why did you do it?”
“I didn’t do it for the poor kids.”
She just shook her head. She still didn’t get it.
“I did it for the rich kids.”
She was still blank, but trying so hard to understand.
“I did it so the kids who always get everything could just once, in one tiny way, know what it feels like to see others get something they want while they get nothing.”
Neil instructed his class to evaluate the lesson. If they wanted, they could look at it like Mr. Campbell would, or they could tell how it had affected them personally. Most of them wrote willingly; kids always do when they have something they really want to say.
That night he read their papers. Stephanie had said:
I always get a lot for Christmas and for birthdays. I always say thank you to my parents. I really do appreciate them. They are very good to me and I know it.
Sometimes I see other kids parents being mean to them. They won’t let them play baseball or buy them things and I think how sad it would be to be like that. But sometimes I guess they don’t have much choice. Like if they have lost their jobs and they don’t have much money. I think it would be sad to live like that and I am glad my Daddy has a good job so we can live in a nice house and have nice things.
Your class made me see what it would be like to not have anything and to see other people get things. I wouldn’t like that, but I guess I needed to see it, so thank you Mr. McCrae for showing me.
Rosa had written:
We used to have alot at Christmas until my daddy lost his job, but we are still luky I guess cause we have more than some other poeple have We hav plenty to eat even if it is beans alot of the time. I like beans anyway and if I don’t get nothing for chirismas this year thats alright because I got alot last year.
It would be easy, Neil thought, to see Stephanie as spoiled and Rosa as some kind of angel, but that wasn’t so. They were both just sweet eleven year old girls who hadn’t had much experience in the world. Giving them some of that experience was Neil’s job. continued