The Apollo-Whitman Question: A Temperance Christmas Short Story

In a previous post on the mountain hamlet of Temperance Professor Phillips Comes For A Christmas Visit the story ended this way:

Turning, he saw a figure under the corner lamp. Then the full moon broke through the snow clouds and shone upon the figure under the lamp.

“Betsy,” William softly uttered.

“Bill,” she responded with tears of joy. They walked toward each other and embraced.

Above them they did not hear the singing of the reindeer bells. Their moonlight enrapturement tuned everything out except for that moment of reality when two old friends were reunited on Christmas Eve under the full moon.

“Well, my children, it has been a tortuous road for both of you. May the moonlight of Christmas Eve be as magical as snow,” the old Reindeer Herder stated. “May the love that you both harbor in your hearts be realized on Christmas morn. I am sure Henry would have been pleased with my present to you two…”


Christmas Morning At the Thompson’s House:

Vesta and Thelma Sue were busy in the kitchen with a dozen brown eggs waiting to be fried with onions and dill, baking cinnamon rolls, warming canned Jonathan applesauce, maple syrup oatmeal with currants and buttermilk biscuits.  Buttermilk biscuits with black raspberry jam were William’s favorite with canned pears and peaches on the side.

Thomas was still asleep since he had sat up most of the night to catch a glimpse of Santa Claus, but he fell asleep before the reindeer bells on the roof reverberated with the falling snow.  However, Santa had left two of his butter pecan cookies, baked by Thelma Sue, on the platter for Thomas.  He felt the boy needed a small reward for his intended nocturnal diligence.

William Thompson was fast asleep.  He had come in just before 3 after talking and walking the streets of Temperance with Betsy Tarrwater.

George Thompson was sitting in the living room by the fire reading The Saturday Evening Post.  He was a bit amused by the audacious advertisements.

As the Justice of the Peace he wanted just the facts and, most of all, truth.  Some of these ads were a bit touched by a night of drinking “spiced” eggnog.

His concentration was broken by the doorbell. “Blasted!” He mumbled.  “Who is ringing that bell this early on Christmas?  Better be a good reason!”

Opening the door, he saw young Gary Marlow with a wrapped package nicely covered with green paper featuring mourning doves. “Come in, son, get out of this cold.”  The mountain winds were icy, and the boy had on just a jacket –no scarf and hat.

“No, thank you, Sir.  I have to get back home for Christmas breakfast, but if you could, please give this to Thelma Sue.”

George smiled as he took the present.  “Goodness!  Must be six pounds of something.”

Gary smiled, “Five pounds, Sir.  Enjoy your day.”

“You as well, young man.”  George paused after he closed the door and mused, “I better begin saving for that wedding in a few years.  It’s costly to have a daughter.”

He placed the present under the seven-foot Victorian tree in the far left corner by the ingle.  Vesta came into the living room and saw George on his knees at the tree.

“Who was at the door, dear?”

Turning his head and looking over his spectacles, “Santa Claus.  He missed leaving a present last night.”

Vesta sighed and returned to the kitchen.  George resumed his place on his chair and continued reading the Post.

After breakfast and dishes the family assembled in the living room to open presents, except for William who was still asleep; Vesta had his breakfast waiting for him when he did come down.  She was happy that he and Betsy spent Christmas Eve together—based on what Agnes Sorensen had told her early that morning.  If anything happened in Temperance, Agnes knew about it.

George received two Tom Wye Jackets from William—one for walking (four pockets) and one for driving (two pockets) his Maxwell Roadster.  Vesta received a Tiffany’s diamond-sapphire-18 karat white gold watch in an elegant case made by Richard Neale of Coventry.

When Thelma Sue was given Gary’s present, she attempted to hide her excitement, but her parents knew of the growing bond between these two teenagers.  Opening the first layer of green paper, she mused that he had his mother wrap it since it was too delicately assembled for a boy to have done.

There was a pressed pink rose on top of a red-wrapped box.  Picking up the rose, she sighed to herself, “A dried pink rose.  Undoubtedly from mother’s rose brushes. He may not be a pie thief, but he is a rose thief…”

Removing the vermillion paper, there was a five pound box of Apollo Chocolates.  Thelma Sue had never been given a box of candy before by anyone.

When Thomas saw the box, he exclaimed, “Apollo Chocolates.  They are the best!”

Thelma Sue replied, “I assume that Bobby Owenby and you had a conversation about chocolates.”

“He said that his father likes Whitman’s Sampler, but his mother prefers Apollo.  Let me see if I can remember what he said about Apollo.”

Thelma Sue pondered: Bobby Owenby, a triple thorn in both sides of a teacher.

Thomas continued, “No mere box of candy, but an enchanted package, laying the whole world under tribute for its purity and deliciousness.  Each piece a new and pleasant variation of the favorite sweetmeat of some far-off land.”

“Definitely enchanted,” George laughed.

“Father!” Thelma Sue exclaimed.

“Georgeee,” Vesta smiled.

Thomas had no idea what was going on with those comments.  However, he knew his parents were happy that that he was learning so many things from Bobby.

“Are you pleased with Gary’s gift?’  Vesta asked.

“O, Mother, yes!  I just hope he likes my gift to him.”

“I am sure that he will, dear.  A hand-made Peruvian Highland yarn scarf is always a man’s need in these chilly winds of the mountains.”

“Indeed!”  George declared in his official stance.

Both Vesta and Thelma Sue gave him their usual glare.  He just laughed.

“Are you going to share,” Thomas asked.

Thelma Sue gave her brother a stern look.  “Of course.  Mother, may we all have one piece now?”

“Sure, dear, just one piece, then you and I need to prepare Christmas dinner—those yams need a lot of washing.”

“Is there a Strawberry cordial in that box,” George inquired.  “I hope Bobby’s mother is right because I love Whitman’s Sampler.”

“I know how much you love Whitman’s, dear,” Vesta stated with a grin as she looked at him from head to boot.

“It’s a man’s candy. Thomas, what does Bobby prefer—Apollo or Whitman’s?”

“Well, Father, neither one.  He only likes his Aunt Shelia’s divinity which he says is true ambrosia.  I don’t know what ambrosia is.”

“You will, TJ.  I am sure Bobby will explain Greek mythology in full detail since he told you about the Golden Fleece,” Thelma Sue stated in her teaching voice.  “When he and Jamie Piper come over this afternoon, there will be a piece of Apollo chocolate for each of you.”

“If Bobby does not want his piece, can I have it?”  Thomas implored.

“May I have it, young man,” Vesta stated.

“Yes, Mother, may I have it?” Thomas urged.

“You and Jamie can share the piece if young Mister Owenby does not want to partake,” Thelma Sue declared in her authoritarian voice.

“Vesta, a few ounces of home-made divinity would hit the right spot,” George declared as he licked his lips and rubbed his stomach.

“Was that a request, dear?”

“Now, we would not want Bobby to suffer as Thomas and Jamie ate their chocolate.  If you are so inclined, I am sure William, Thomas, Bobby and I would appreciate a nice pink platter of divinity.  Thomas, I will explain to you about ambrosia in the meantime.”

“Come, Thelma Sue.  We have a new item to prepare for the menfolk.”

“Merry Christmas, dear,” George smiled.

“Merry Christmas, George.” Vesta lovingly replied.

As we leave Temperance for now, I am sure the inhabitants, with the exception of a few, would say

Merry Christmas! God bless you everyone!

May this Christmas Eve and Christmas day find you blessed with generosity of spirit. May you live Christmas well by sharing your gold and myrrh and frankincense.

May your Christmas gift come when your time is right. May you have a joyful Christmas! Live Christmas well.


G. D. Williams © 2016

POST 698


Temperance Stories

The Broken Windows on Christmas: A Short Story

Professor Phillips Comes For A Christmas Visit: A Short Story

The Attic’s Secret: A Christmas Short Story

Mrs. Thompson’s Missing Rhubarb Pie: A Short Story

A Knock at the Shop’s Door: A Christmas Eve Short Story

The Christmas Gift—A Short Story