Wednesday, December 24, 2008

King John's Christmas

When I was 7 years old my grandfather gave me a copy of "Now We Are Six" by A.A. Milne, the author of "Winnie the Pooh". (I still own this book and it looks just like the one on the left though my little sister Rebecca did scribble her name in it when she was about 5.)

I loved this book of poetry to bits and memorized many of the selections. But King John's Christmas was and still is my favorite - for we are all God's children - whether our behavior is good or bad - God loves and is with us. That's what the Incarnation is all about! May you reach out to all the King Johns in your own life on this Christmas Day.

King John's Christmas
King John was not a good man —
He had his little ways.
And sometimes no one spoke to him
For days and days and days.
And men who came across him,
When walking in the town,
Gave him a supercilious stare,
Or passed with noses in the air —
And bad King John stood dumbly there,
Blushing beneath his crown.

King John was not a good man,
And no good friends had he.
He stayed in every afternoon ...
But no one came to tea.
And, round about December,
The cards upon his shelf
Which wished him lots of Christmas cheer,
And fortune in the coming year,
Were never from his near and dear,
But only from himself.

King John was not a good man,
Yet had his hopes and fears.
They’d given him no present now
For years and years and years.
But every year at Christmas,
While minstrels stood about,
Collecting tribute from the young
For all the songs they might have sung,
He stole away upstairs and hung
A hopeful stocking out.

King John was not a good man,
He lived his life aloof;
Alone he thought a message out
While climbing up the roof.
He wrote it down and propped it
Against the chimney stack:
“TO ALL AND SUNDRY -
NEAR AND FAR -
F. CHRISTMAS IN PARTICULAR.”
And signed it not “Johannes R.”
But very humbly, “JACK.”

“I want some crackers,
And I want some candy;
I think a box of chocolates
Would come in handy;
I don’t mind oranges,
I do like nuts!
And I SHOULD like a pocket-knife
That really cuts.
And, oh! Father Christmas, if you love me at all,
Bring me a big, red india-rubber ball!”

King John was not a good man —
He wrote this message out,
And gat him to his room again,
Descending by the spout.
And all that night he lay there,
A prey to hopes and fears.
“I think that’s him a-coming now,
(Anxiety bedewed his brow.)
“He’ll bring one present, anyhow —
The first I’ve had for years.

“Forget about the crackers,
And forget about the candy;
I’m sure a box of chocolates
Would never come in handy;
I don’t like oranges,
I don’t want nuts,
And I HAVE got a pocket-knife
That almost cuts.
But, oh! Father Christmas, if you love me at all,
Bring me a big, red india-rubber ball!”

King John was not a good man —
Next morning when the sun
Rose up to tell a waiting world
That Christmas had begun,
And people seized their stockings,
And opened them with glee,
And crackers, toys and games appeared,
And lips with sticky sweets were smeared,
King John said grimly:
“As I feared, Nothing again for me!”“

I did want crackers,
And I did want candy;
I know a box of chocolates
Would come in handy;
I do love oranges,
I did want nuts.
I haven’t got a pocket-knife —
Not one that cuts.
And, oh! if Father Christmas had loved me at all,
He would have brought a big, red india-rubber ball!”

King John stood by the window,
And frowned to see below
The happy bands of boys and girls
All playing in the snow.
A while he stood there watching,
And envying them all...
When through the window big and red
There hurtled by his royal head,
And bounced and fell upon the bed,
An india-rubber ball!
AND OH, FATHER CHRISTMAS,
MY BLESSINGS ON YOU FALL
FOR BRINGING HIM A

BIG, RED INDIA-RUBBER BALL!

6 comments:

Mrs. D. said...

I too have Now We are Six, and I still read it now and then.

They're changing the guard at Buckingham palace. Christopher Robin went down with Alice. Alice is marrying one of the guard. "A soldier's life is terrible hard," says Alice.

That's from memory and may be faulty. But isn't memory wonderful? Enriching!

Blessings on your ChristmasDay!

sigrid said...

And a VERY Merry Christmas to you too.

I love you!

Sigrid

Ellie Finlay said...

Oh, I love this book. My mother refused to read anything from it to me until I actually turned six and so that birthday was truly a rite of passage. I well remember being five and wanting so earnestly for my next birthday to hurry up and arrive! :-)

ROBERTA said...

ellie,

you were able to read it a whole year before me! :)

erh said...

This is wonderful, Roberta and brought back many memories for me too; I'm looking for my copy. love, erh

Jan Richardson said...

I still have my copy of Now We Are Six, and remember receiving it from a friend on my sixth birthday. Thanks for conjuring that memory, and for sharing "King John's Christmas." Thank you for your thoughtful blog. Many blessings to you in these Christmas days, and a wondrous new year ahead!