This lovely frontispiece is from a story by Harriet Beecher Stowe about the love of Jesus and the special magic that can happen around Christmas. Two young children are in the center of this snow-filled landscape. While playing in the churchyard, the church sexton placed pine bows, holly and even a small cross fashioned from natural materials out for trash. These were the bits and pieces left over from decorating the church for Christmas. The children, who were terribly poor, looked upon the church’s left over Christmas trimmings as a gift unlike any they had known in a long time.
They quickly hurried home and decorated their meager home with their treasures.
Rather than tell you the entire story here, I’ll just get to the end and share how everything turns out well. In a story of love and kindness at Christmas, their father re-signed a temperance pledge and was rehired for his old job in great measure due to the kindness of his old employer’s daughter. The daughter also spent a small amount of her own money to provide Christmas for the family by providing them with food, coal and even a new tea set. The story ends with the daughter realizing how for so little money and effort she enacted great change for the family and realized it was truly more blessed to give than receive.
This is obviously not one of those more traditional Christmas images. But, it just seemed to represent something with too much meaning to place it among Children Playing in the Snow. We have a beautiful church, covered in snow and draped with ice cycles. The churchyard is full of birds who seem to recognize the yard as a safe place to spend a bitterly cold day. The sextant stands in the doorway of the church, watching the children gather up the Christmas greenery to carry home. Even before I knew the story the illustration was used with, I somehow knew it was a Christmas rather than winter image.
I do hope someone can make good use of it and share the Christmas Lesson it can teach us all. The artist was not identified but since Betty’s Bright Idea bears a copyright of 1875, this Christmas image is in the public domain.
This image is copyright free and in the public domain anywhere that extends copyrights 70 years after death or at least 120 years after publication when the original illustrator is unknown.