The play is intended, not only for acting, but also for reading. It is so arranged that boys and girls can read it to themselves, just as they would read any other story.
The play has been acted more than once, and by different groups of people. Practical suggestions as to costumes, scenery, and some simple scenic effects will be found at the end of the play.
Before the Play begins, MOTHER GOOSE comes out in front of the curtain, and this is what she says:
Well, well, well, well, well, here we all are again. And what’s more important, Christmas is here again, too. Aren’t you glad? Now I want to tell you children something. Do you know what I enjoy most at Christmas time? It’s to come in here and see all you children sitting in rows and rows, all your faces looking up at me, and a smile on every one of them. Why, even some of those great big men and women back there are smiling, too. And I think I know why you are all smiling. There are two reasons for it, I believe. One is that you think old Mother Goose is a good friend of yours, and loves you all very much. And you’re quite right about that, for I declare, I love every one of you as much as I love—plum pudding. And the second reason why you are all smiling, I guess, is because you think I am going to show you a Christmas Play. And you’re right about that, too. I have a play all ready for you, there behind the curtain, and the name of it is “The Christmas Dinner.” Doesn’t the very name of it make you hungry? Well, you just wait. Now when the curtain opens, you’ll see the warm cozy kitchen of a farm house, where six people live. Two of them are quite young, because they are just a boy and a girl, and their names are Walter and Gertrude. And two of them are older, and yet not so very old either: they are the father and mother of the two children. And the last two are the oldest of all, and they are really old, for they are the children’s grandfather and grandmother. It is late in the afternoon of the day before Christmas, the hour when it has begun to get dark. The father is out cutting some good big sticks of wood for the Christmas fire, and the two children are playing outside of the house. So you’ll not see them at first. But you will see the mother, who is just finishing the day’s work, and the old grandfather and grandmother, who are sitting by the fire. Are you ready, all of you? Be quiet, then, for now it is going to begin.
The Christmas Dinner
The First Scene
Now the Curtain opens, and you see a farmhouse kitchen, just as Mother Goose promised. At the back, opposite to you, is a fire-place, with a mantel shelf over it. A bright fire is burning. On the mantel is a lamp, lighted, and an unlighted candle; also some other things that you’ll hear about later. There is a cupboard against the back wall. At one side of the room is the door leading out of doors; beside it is a large wood box, where the fire-wood is kept; and nearby are a broom, leaning against the wall, and a dustpan. On the other side of the room is another door, which leads to the rest of the house; beside that is a big clothes basket, where the soiled clothes are kept. Close to the fire, one on each side, the Grandfather and the Grandmother are sitting in comfortable
chairs. Near the front and a little at one side are a table and a chair. On the table is a dishpan and a number of dishes, which the Mother is washing when the curtain opens.
The first one to speak is the GRANDMOTHER, and this is what she says: Haven’t you nearly finished, Mary?
Yes, almost, answers MOTHER: only a few more things to be washed, and then I can sit down and rest.
GRANDMOTHER asks, Is everything ready for the Christmas dinner tomorrow?
Every single thing, MOTHER answers. The goose is ready to go on the fire; the apple sauce is made; the bread and the pies are baked; and the plum pudding—well, you saw the pudding yourself, so that I don’t need to tell you about that. It’s a beauty, if I do say so.
At this moment the outside door opens, and the two children, Walter and Gertrude, run in. Their coats and mittens show that they have been playing in the snow.
Oh, Mother, says WALTER, it’s getting dark outside. May we come in now? Is your work all done?
Not quite yet, dears, his MOTHER answers. Run out, both of you, for ten minutes more, and then I’ll have everything cleared away. It makes me nervous to have you about while things are in a mess.
All right, mother, says GERTRUDE. Come on, Walter, I’ll race you to the gate. And both the children go out-of-doors again, running. Gertrude was nearer the door, and gets out first.
Such energy as those children have! exclaims MOTHER, with a sigh, as she goes on with her work. Sometimes it makes me tired to watch them. There, every last thing is washed...