“Tilly’s Christmas” // Twelve Days of Christmas Countdown

Tilly’s Christmas

by Louisa May Alcott

“I’m so glad to-morrow is Christmas, because I’m going to have lots of presents.”

“So am I glad, though I don’t expect any presents but a pair of mittens.”

“And so am I; but I shan’t have any presents at all.”

As the three little girls trudged home from school they said these things, and as Tilly spoke, both the others looked at her with pity and some surprise, for she spoke cheerfully, and they wondered how she could be happy when she was so poor she could have no presents on Christmas.

“Don’t you wish you could find a purse full of money right here in the path?” said Kate, the child who was going to have ” lots of presents.”

“Oh, don’t I, if I could keep it honestly!” and Tilly’s eyes shone at the very thought.

“What would you buy?” asked Bessy, rubbing her cold hands, and longing for her mittens.

“I’d buy a pair of large, warm blankets, a load of wood, a shawl for mother, and a pair of shoes for me; and if there was enough left, I’d give Bessy a new hat, and then she needn’t wear Ben’s old felt one,” answered Tilly.

The girls laughed at that; but Bessy pulled the funny hat over her ears, and said she was much obliged, but she’d rather have candy.

“Let’s look, and may be we can find a purse. People are always going about with money at Christmas time, and some one may lose it here,” said Kate.

So, as they went along the snowy road, they looked about them, half in earnest, half in fun. Suddenly Tilly sprang forward, exclaiming,

“I see it! I’ve found it!”

The others followed, but all stopped disappointed; for it wasn’t a purse, it was only a little bird. It lay upon the snow with its wings spread and feebly fluttering, as if too weak to fly. Its little feet were benumbed with cold; its once bright eyes were dull with pain, and instead of a blithe song, it could only utter a faint chirp, now and then, as if crying for help.

“Nothing but a stupid old robin; how provoking!” cried Kate, sitting down to rest.

“I shan’t touch it. I found one once, and took care of it, and the ungrateful thing flew away the minute it was well,” said Bessy, creeping under Kate’s shawl, and putting her hands under her chin to warm them.

“Poor little birdie! How pitiful he looks, and how glad he must be to see some one coming to help him! I’ll take him up gently, and carry him home to mother. Don’t be frightened, dear, I’m your friend;” and Tilly knelt down in the snow, stretching her hand to the bird with the tenderest pity in her face.

Kate and Bessy laughed.

“Don’t stop for that thing; it’s getting late and cold: let’s go on and look for the purse,” they said, moving away.

“You wouldn’t leave it to die?’ cried Tilly. “I’d rather have the bird than the money, so I shan’t look any more. The purse wouldn’t be mine, and I should only be tempted to keep it; but this poor thing will thank and love me, and I’m so glad I came in time.”

Gently lifting the bird, Tilly felt its tiny cold claws cling to her hand, and saw its dim eyes brighten as it nestled down with a grateful chirp.

“Now I’ve got a Christmas present after all,” she said, smiling, as -they walked on. ” I always wanted a bird, and this one will be such a pretty pet for me!”

“He’ll fly away the first chance he gets, and die anyhow; so you’d better not waste your time over him,” said Bessy.

“He can’t pay you for taking care of him, and my mother says it isn’t worth while to help folks that can’t help us,” added Kate.

“My mother says, ‘Do as you’d be done by;’ and I’m sure I’d like any one to help me if I was dying of cold and hunger. ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ is another of her sayings. This bird is my little neighbor, and I’ll love him and care for him, as I often wish our rich neighbor would love and care for us,” answered Tilly, breathing her warm breath over the benumbed bird, who looked up at her with confiding eyes, quick to feel and know a friend.

“What a funny girl you are,” said Kate, “caring for that silly bird, and talking about loving your neighbor in that sober way. Mr. King don’t care a bit for you, and never will, though he knows how poor you are; so I don’t think your plan amounts to much.”

“I believe it, though; and shall do my part, any way. Good-night. I hope you’ll have a merry Christmas, and lots of pretty things,” answered Tilly, as they parted.

Her eyes were full, and she felt so poor as she went on alone toward the little old house where she lived. It would have been so pleasant to know that she was going to have some of the pretty things all children love to find in their full stockings on Christmas morning. And pleasanter still to have been able to give her mother something nice. So many comforts were needed, and there was no hope of getting them ; for they could barely get food and fire.

“Never mind, birdie, we’ll make the best of what we have, and be merry in spite of everything. You shall have a happy Christmas, any way; and I know God won’t forget us, if every one else does.”

She stopped a minute to wipe her eyes, and lean her cheek against the bird’s soft breast, finding great comfort in the little creature, though it could only love her, nothing more.

“See, mother, what a nice present I’ve found,” she cried, going in with a cheery face that was like sunshine in the dark room.

“I’m glad of that, dearie; for I haven’t been able to get my little girl any thing but a rosy apple. Poor bird ! Give it some of your warm bread and milk.”

“Why, mother, what a big bowlful ! I’m afraid you gave me all the milk,” said Tilly, smiling over the nice, steaming supper that stood ready for her.

“I’ve had plenty, dear. Sit down and dry your wet feet, and put the bird in my basket on this warm flannel.”

Tilly peeped into the closet and saw nothing there but dry bread.

” Mother’s given me all the milk, and is going without her tea, ’cause she knows I’m hungry. Now I’ll surprise her, and she shall have a good supper too. She is going to split wood, and I’ll fix it while she’s gone.”

So Tilly put down the old tea-pot, carefully poured out a part of the milk, and from her pocket produced a great, plummy bun, that one of the school-children had given her, and she had saved for her mother. A slice of the dry bread was nicely toasted, and the bit of butter set by for her put on it. When her mother came in there was the table drawn up in a warm place, a hot cup of tea ready, and Tilly and birdie waiting for her.

Such a poor little supper, and yet such a happy one; for love, charity, and contentment were guests there, and that Christmas eve was a blither one than that up at the great house, where lights shone, fires blazed, a great tree glittered, and music sounded, as the children danced and played.

“We must go to bed early, for we’ve only wood enough to last over to-morrow. I shall be paid for my work the day after, and then we can get some,” said Tilly’s mother, as they sat by the fire.

“If my bird was only a fairy bird, and would give us three wishes, how nice it would be! Poor dear, he can’t give me anything; but it’s no matter,” answered Tilly, looking at the robin, who lay in the basket with his head under his wing, a mere little feathery bunch.

“He can give you one thing, Tilly, the pleasure of doing good. That is one of the sweetest things in life; and the poor can enjoy it as well as the rich.”

As her mother spoke, with her tired hand softly stroking her little daughter’s hair, Tilly suddenly started and pointed to the window, saying, in a frightened whisper,

“I saw a face, a man’s face, looking in! It’s gone now; but I truly saw it.”

“Some traveller attracted by the light perhaps. I’ll go and see.” And Tilly’s mother went to the door.

No one was there. The wind blew cold, the stars shone, the snow lay white on field and wood, and the Christmas moon was glittering in the sky.

“What sort of a face was it?” asked Tilly’s mother, coming back.

“A pleasant sort of face, I think ; but I was so startled I don’t quite know what it was like. I wish we had a curtain there,” said Tilly.

“I like to have our light shine out in the evening, for the road is dark and lonely just here, and the twinkle of our lamp is pleasant to people’s eyes as they go by. We can do so little for our neighbors, I am glad to cheer the way for them. Now put these poor old shoes to dry, and go to bed, dearie; I’ll come soon.”

Tilly went, taking her bird with her to sleep in his basket near by, lest he should be lonely in the night.

Soon the little house was dark and still, and no one saw the Christmas spirits at their work that night.

When Tilly opened the door next morning, she gave a loud cry, clapped her hands, and then stood still, quite speechless with wonder and delight. There, before the door, lay a great pile of wood, all ready to burn, a big bundle and a basket; with a lovely nosegay of winter roses, holly, and evergreen tied to the handle.

“Oh, mother! did the fairies do it?” cried Tilly, pale with her happiness, as she seized the basket, while her mother took in the bundle.

“Yes, dear, the best and dearest fairy in the world, called ‘Charity.’ She walks abroad at Christmas time, does beautiful deeds like this, and does not stay to be thanked,” answered her mother with full eyes, as she undid the parcel.

There they were, the warm, thick blankets, the comfortable shawl, the new shoes, and, best of all, a pretty winter hat for Bessy. The basket was full of good things to eat, and on the flowers lay a paper saying,

“For the little girl who loves her neighbor as herself .”

“Mother, I really think my bird is a fairy bird, and all these splendid things come from him,” said Tilly, laughing and crying with joy.

It really did seem so, for as she spoke, the robin flew to the table, hopped to the nosegay, and perching among the roses, began to chirp with all his little might. The sun streamed in on flowers, bird, and happy child, and no one saw a shadow glide away from the window ; no one ever knew that Mr. King had seen and heard the little girls the night before, or dreamed that the rich neighbor had learned a lesson from the poor neighbor.

And Tilly’s bird was a fairy bird ; for by her love and tenderness to the helpless thing, she brought good gifts to herself, happiness to the unknown giver of them, and a faithful little friend who did not fly away, but stayed with her till the snow was gone, making summer for her in the winter-time.



“A few of my favorite things…” // Twelve Days of Christmas Countdown

My friend Hannah had this clever idea to create a taggy thing to celebrate Christmas and get in the spirit of happiness and good-will — or more in the spirit if you happen to already be there! And she tagged me because she’s sweet like that. And so did Olivia. They both deserve chocolate chips, methinks. 


Answer prompts with the wintery/Christmassy theme in mind.

Tag at least 5 of your blogger-buddies to take part.

Use the title picture I provided above.

Spread the love around!


1.) Favorite “snuggle weather” Books

The Wind in the Willows is, hands down, the best “snuggle weather” in the history of ever. Also,

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Actually, all of the Chronicles of Narnia.

— The Borrowers.

— A Christmas Carol. 

— The Hobbit.

— Jane of Lantern Hill.

— Little Women. 

And basically any mystery by Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, or G.K. Chesterton.

2.) Favorite wintery/Christmassy Snacks

Gingerbread and milk. Frosted sugar cookies. Candied nuts. Chocolate. Oreo truffles. I shared some recipes yesterday.


3.) Favorite Hot Drinks


4.) Favorite Christmas Movies

I chatted about that on Monday.

5.) Favorite holiday Songs

*sings Jingle Bells at the top of her lungs* 

I’m actually going to share a post about my favorite Christmas music next week! Complete with linkys. ^_^ 

6.) Favorite “snow day” Crafts 

I knit allll the things. And make paper snowflakes very badly. 

 7.) Do you wanna build a snowman?

I would love to… IF THERE WAS ACTUALLY SNOW. *mournful wail*

Tagging these lovelies: 

Joy @ Fullness of Joy | Hanne-col @ Ain’t We Got Fun Serena @ Poetree | Savannah @ A Scattering of Light | Lydia @ Lydia Carns
Have a jolly day, humans! 

Holiday recipes — sweets // Twelve Days of Christmas Countdown

 The walls and ceiling were so hung with living green, that it looked a perfect grove; from every part of which, bright gleaming berries glistened. The crisp leaves of holly, mistletoe, and ivy reflected back the light, as if so many little mirrors had been scattered there; and such a mighty blaze went roaring up the chimney, as that dull petrification of a hearth had never known in Scrooge’s time, or Marley’s, or for many and many a winter season gone. Heaped up on the floor, to form a kind of throne, were turkeys, geese, game, poultry, brawn, great joints of meat, sucking-pigs, long wreaths of sausages, mince-pies, plum-puddings, barrels of oysters, red-hot chestnuts, cherry-cheeked apples, juicy oranges, luscious pears, immense twelfth-cakes, and seething bowls of punch, that made the chamber dim with their delicious steam.

— A Christmas Carol

Every Christmas season at some point all of us siblings congregate together and spend a glorious several hours decorating sugar cookies — creating wreaths of colors impossible in nature, giving angels blue wings and Christmas trees snow on their branches. Icing ends up on everything, including on our faces. Sleigh Ride and Feliz Navidad and The Little Drummer Boy play in the background, drowned out at times by our laughter.

Christmas food is very important in our household. Every year we make our traditional gingerbread men, sugar cookies, homemade hot chocolate, candied nuts… and in honor of the season, I thought a few recipes would be a perfect addition in the #CuriousWrenChristmasCountdown.

Gingerbread People

1 and 1/2 cups dark molasses

1 cup packed brown sugar

2/3 cup cold water

1/3 cup butter

7 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground allspice

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Mix molasses, butter, brown sugar, and water. Combine dry ingredients separately. Add dry ingredients to molasses concoction.  Cover and refrigerate at least two hours.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough 1/4 inch thick on floured surface (I sometimes use powdered sugar instead of flour). Cut with floured (powdered sugared) cookie cutters. Place about 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Bake until no indentation remains when touched, about 10 to 12 minutes. Cool. Frost. Prepare to want to eat all of the gingerbread in one seating. Recommend festive Christmas music to enhance the scene.

(makes about two dozen cookies)

Apple Taffy Salad

 8 ounce can of pineapple

1 egg

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon flour

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

8 ounce container of Cool Whip

6 large apples (peeled, cored, and cubed)

1 cup dry roasted peanuts (chopped)

  1. Squeeze pineapple by hand. Drain juice. Set aside squeezed pineapple. Combine juice with egg, sugar, flour, and vinegar in a small saucepan. Beat ingredients on low speed. Stir over medium heat until thickened. Cool completely.
  2. Place cubed apples and crushed, squeezed pineapple in large mixing bowl. Add saucepan mixture.
  3. Fold in Cool Whip and 1/2 cup of chopped peanuts.
  4. Sprinkle remaining peanuts on top.

This is easily one of my favorite recipes of all time. I could live on this stuff, people.

Also, I trotted over to Pinterest to look for more tasty recipes and basically I am now starving and craving ALL THE THINGS.


Candied nuts


Peppermint Oreo Truffles


Twelve 4-ingredient Christmas Treats


Melted Snowmen Oreo Balls

Now excuse me while I go whip up a batch of something scrumptious.

Is your mouth watering yet? What are some of your favorite/traditional holiday treats? And which one of these recipes makes you the hungriest? (Personally, I just really want some Oreo truffles.)

The House of Christmas poem // Twelve Days of Christmas Countdown


The House of Christmas

There fared a mother driven forth
Out of an inn to roam;
In the place where she was homeless
All men are at home.
The crazy stable close at hand,
With shaking timber and shifting sand,
Grew a stronger thing to abide and stand
Than the square stones of Rome.

For men are homesick in their homes,
And strangers under the sun,
And they lay on their heads in a foreign land
Whenever the day is done.
Here we have battle and blazing eyes,
And chance and honour and high surprise,
But our homes are under miraculous skies
Where the yule tale was begun.

A Child in a foul stable,
Where the beasts feed and foam;
Only where He was homeless
Are you and I at home;
We have hands that fashion and heads that know,
But our hearts we lost – how long ago!
In a place no chart nor ship can show
Under the sky’s dome.

This world is wild as an old wives’ tale,
And strange the plain things are,
The earth is enough and the air is enough
For our wonder and our war;
But our rest is as far as the fire-drake swings
And our peace is put in impossible things
Where clashed and thundered unthinkable wings
Round an incredible star.

To an open house in the evening
Home shall men come,
To an older place than Eden
And a taller town than Rome.
To the end of the way of the wandering star,
To the things that cannot be and that are,
To the place where God was homeless
And all men are at home.

G.K. Chesterton

Top Five Favorite Holiday Films // Twelve Days of Christmas Countdown

This is one of those moments where I’m not sure if I’m entirely sane — let’s go with not.

Despite being up to my ears in other Christmas-related stuff (this month is turning out to be one of the busiest in the history of ever, no exaggeration) I’ve decided that I’m going to do something special here on Curious Wren for the Twelve Days of Christmas.

Now, technically they start on December 25th and end on January 5th, but where’s the fun in that? Instead, I’m planning to post something short and festive every day leading up to Christmas Day.

It’ll be a jolly way to build the anticipation for myself (hopefully, you too) and even though I’m 99% sure I’m biting off more than I can chew — I’m going to give it a whirl anyways. Because why not?


Today I’m sharing with you five of my favorite Christmas movies.

Grab a mug of hot chocolate and a cozy blanket and let’s talk film!

1. It’s a Wonderful Life.

This is probably one of the best-known Christmas movies ever, and with good reason. It used to scare me a bit when I was little, but as I grew up I began to realize the beauty of the story and I fell head-over-heels for it. Humor, poignant moments, festive cheer, thought-provoking themes, good acting…. it has it all.

2. A Christmas Carol.

Nobody in my family considers our holiday season complete unless we’ve watched this version of A Christmas Carol. It’s our traditional viewing on whatever evening we attack a pine tree and make it all pretty and shiny. The first time I saw it I was in awe of the amazing animation — still am — and I love how true it is to the book, not to mention it has some deliciously chilling scenes and some comical ones too. Plus, the entire soundtrack is Christmas music so that’s lovely. ^_^

3. The Nativity Story.

I still remember my surprise the first time viewing The Nativity Story — it tells the story of Christ’s birth so well and with such wonder and love. I especially like that it opens up insights into Mary and Joseph’s life that I’d never thought about before. I’d never paused to think what it was like for Mary being an unwed, pregnant young woman and how people would have treated her, even though she was entirely innocent. And it’s fascinating watching Mary and Joseph’s relationship develop. When we re-watched the movie last night I couldn’t resist turning to my older sister during one of the couple’s particularly sweet scenes and whispering, “I ship it.” XD

Oh, and anyone else absolutely love the three Wise Men? “If I am right, and I usually am… ”

4. Rise of the Guardians.

I admit I was dubious about this one, but since it was a gift from my sister-in-law we tried it out and I was pleasantly surprised. Not only is it funny, it’s thoroughly heart-warming and Jack Frost is one of my favorite movie characters ever. Commonly we don’t watch films that feature Santa, but I loved the twist in RoTG that each guardian was human before they became immortal. It’s a festive Avenger-esque story for children and, goodness, the character dynamics are so much fun! Also, I will never not cry in Jack’s first scene talking face-to-face with a child who can see him. and, yes, I ship Jack and Elsa. not even sorry. 

5. Arthur Christmas.

Oh, this movie. *happy sigh* It stars James McAvoy who does a brilliant job as Arthur. The Christmas family has been “Santa Claus” for generations with each firstborn son taking on the role when their father relinquishes it. My sister-in-law introduced it to us last Christmas and within the first two minutes of the movie my sisters and I were all, “WHERE HAS THIS BEEN OUR ENTIRE LIVES?” I’m sure the film has flaws and plot-holes, but it is just so good. The storyline, the dialogue, the emotions, the humor, the accents… I love it all. Seriously, if you haven’t seen it, check it out, alrighty?

Honorable mentions: Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol. Doctor Who: The Doctor, The Widow, and the Wardrobe. Borrowed Hearts.

What are your favorite festive films, lovelies? And am I unhinged to attempt a Curious Wren Christmas Countdown?