The summers are swelterin’ on our island, like I said, but so wet. Tropical wet. We get twice as much rain in the summer as in the winter, which is somethin’ strange for most folk, but not us. We’re used to it. I was born here and bred here, a real Ellen Point Islander, but not my papa. He was born up the coast in a state called Maine. That’s where his mama and papa were born too. Way up in the north, nearly as far up our country as you can go before you’re in Canada, and that’s a different land altogether.
Papa doesn’t remember much about his home in Maine. He was just four years old when they moved down here to the island. But grandmama and grandpapa remember everythin’ and they’re always tellin’ stories about their snowy home. I ain’t ever even seen snow, but I’ve seen pictures and it looks very pretty, like cake frostin’. We have Christmas. We just don’t have snow with it.
I know that Christmas is nearly here. The trick or treatin’ decorations have been packed away in the barn loft for next year and we’ve finished all the Thanksgivin’ turkey, so Christmas is next. Mama sings with the choral society and she’s been singin’ carols for weeks. I think I’ll be fed up with hearin’ her practisin’ the carols about our sweet baby saviour by the time Christmas Eve is here. I think I know all the words too and I don’t even go with her to the practices.
The children in our school are practisin’ for the Christmas pageant. This year I’m just a tree. I wanted to be an angel, like my best friend Susannah, but she’s got hair the colour of honey that curls all the way to her waist, so she looks right for an angel. When you’ve got short brown hair like a boy (I had to have one braid chopped off when I got it all stuck up with chewin’ gum and then the other one chopped off to match), you don’t really look right for an angel. I guess it’s better to be a tree than a sheep and crawl around on the floor getting dusty knees. My brother Jed’s playin’ Joseph ‘cause it’s his last year in the pageant. He’s twelve. When I’m twelve I want to be Mary, so I’ll just content myself with playin’ a tree this year, cross my fingers, and stop chewin’ gum.
Grandmama’s real name is Mary. That’s on account of her being born on Christmas Eve. We’re havin’ our Christmas at their place this year, like we always do. Mama’s sewn a patchwork quilt for grandmama’s birthday. Papa’s made some peach brandy. That’s grandmama’s favourite. She has a glass every evening sittin’ by the fireside. It’s way after my bedtime, but I creep down the stairs and peep through the banisters to watch the grown ups. Jed says I’m bad fer doin’ it. The real reason is to see the Christmas tree all decked before Christmas mornin’ when we’re allowed downstairs in our nightclothes.