Friends, we have another short story this week and the title has a bit of a play on grammar. Good times are in store! You can read A College Santa Cluase by Ralph Henry Barbour by clicking on the link.
Once again, literary poser that I am, I hadn’t heard of Ralph Henry Barbour. I’m going to talk about what I learned on the internet, but I have to warn you, it’s not much. So, if you don’t want to see any spoiler information, don’t read too much further.
Ralph Henry Barbour “lived from November 13, 1870 to February 19, 1944 and was an American novelist, who wrote popular works of sports fiction for boys.” This factoid stunned me: During his career, “Barbour produced more than 100 novels as well as a number of short stories.”
100 novels? What?!
That is about all the information I found. So, he might have written a lot, but not a lot was written about him!
If you’re still reading, we’re about to start discussing the story . . . okay?
I enjoyed this one, but for different reasons than A Burglar’s Christmas. If A Burglar’s Christmas was a version of The Prodigal Son, this was more The Rich Young Ruler.
Seeing Satherwaite at the beginning of the story having his Christmas plans fall apart at the last minute and being away from home . . . made me think of us. I bet it’s happened to you too. Most of my Christmases abroad have been good and maybe even had a humorous story. But there were two that were utterly disappointing–I’ll share the short versions here, and if you want to know more, as in the comments :).
1. All hot water pipes in my building were being replaced resulting in no hot water for three months. My bathroom was used as the chute for all construction material in the whole building to be dropped through. The construction noise went on and on and on. For three months no one would visit us. Christmas that year was on a weekday. Pound. Pound. Pound. Bang. Bang. Bang. Crash. Crash. Crash. I was also having a medical situation that required me to soak my bottom in hot water three times a day. It is the time I point to if I had magically been offered a plane ticket, I might have left without looking back.
2. Another year, in a different city, I was on my way to church one Christmas Eve and dropped by little I.D. wallet that I had tucked cash into to pay for a cab home. I lost several important cards I needed. In shock, I hopped off the bus because my only option was to walk home and the further I rode, the further I’d have to walk. I was too dejected to go to church. (Sorry to disappoint, but it’s the truth). My I.D. wallet also carried the I.D. I needed to get onto the school property where I lived and without it, I wouldn’t be allowed to enter the campus. I spent the whole walk home crying, wondering how I could sneak onto the campus, and feeling more alone than I ever had at Christmas.
How about you? What are some of the lower points of your experiences? You know, the ones you can’t share because then you look like an ungrateful, unwilling to pay the cost, cross-cultural worker.
I loved how Satherwaite looked around his room and found an excuse to make a connection with someone. “I know, even though it’s Christmas Eve, I’ll return this book I borrowed NOW instead of waiting.” Hehehe, I know I’ve also come up with very thinly veiled reasons to return or borrow or ask a burning question all because what I really wanted was connection. Anyone else? Please tell me you get it.
I had mixed feelings when Satherwaite stumbled into the party. Isn’t it the WORST feeling when you realize you’ve crashed something and you weren’t invited?! But wasn’t it also the best for his snobby self to see this group together, having fun, and realize that riches come in other forms than mere money.
What did you think of the ways each side made gestures towards each other? As mildly uncomfortable as they all were, I was impressed to see how they leaned into and through the discomfort as they awkwardly made gestures of each other. I was glad that Satherwaite invited himself in and decided to stay. It’s so much easier to leave than to stay, isn’t it?
What moved you in this story? What annoyed you? What didn’t seem to ring true? Other thoughts this stirred?
See you in the comments, friends! Amy
Reading plan for the month:
December 1: A Burglar’s Christmas by Willa Cather (our discussion is here)
December 8: A College Santa Cluase by Ralph Henry Barbour
December 15: How the Captain Made Christmas by Thomas Nelson Page
December 22: The Other Wise Man by Henry Van Dyke