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A young girl looks forward to receiving mittens and oranges and ...
A young girl looks forward to receiving mittens and oranges and candy at church on a Christmas Eve during the Depression, and when these special treats are stolen, her spirit sinks.
Mama, Papa, and the narrator hitch their horse, Star, to an old-fashioned sleigh to make the Christmas Eve trip to town for church; Star has a pair of antlers tied on for the occasion. The child looks forward to the tree at the church, where gifts of mittens, oranges, and candy await, but when they arrive, they find that someone has stolen it all. The church service proceeds, stoically, but when the manger scene is set up, a mishap with a donkey sends the girl and her best friend, Emma, into the night to get Star. Outside they see "a man in a cap and coat" (portrayed in lackluster watercolors as Santa) heaving a large bag into the sleigh. Whatever readers surmise from the text—that this is either the person who has stolen the gifts and had second thoughts (along the lines of How the Grinch Stole Christmas) or another person entirely returning stolen goods—it's more odd than magical.