- What did the author find in a junk shop?
- What did he find in a secret drawer? Who do you think had put it in there?
- The author found a roll-top desk for sale in a junk shop. It was made of oak wood, but it was in a very bad condition.
- In the secret drawer of the desk, the author found a small tin box. It had a letter in it. I think the owner of the roll-top desk might have put it there.
- Who had written the letter, to whom, and when?
- Why was the letter written — what was the wonderful thing that had happened?
- What jobs did Hans Wolf and Jim Macpherson have when they were not soldiers?
- Had Hans Wolf ever been to Dorset? Why did he say he knew it?
- Do you think Jim Macpherson came back from the war? How do you know this?
- John Macpherson, a captain in the British army, had written that letter, dated Dec. 26, 1914, to his wife Connie.
- The letter described a wonderful event. The two armies-the British and the German—fighting against each other celebrated Christmas together.
- Before joining the army, Hans played the cello in the orchestra and Jim was a teacher.
- No, Hans had never been to Dorset. He had only read about Dorset in Hardy’s novel ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’.
- No, Jim Macpherson never came back home from the war. Perhaps therefore his wife Connie had preserved his letters.
- Why did the author go to Bridport?
- How old was Mrs Macpherson now? Where was she?
- The author went to Bridport to meet Mrs Jim Macpherson and deliver to her Jim’s letter.
- Macpherson was 101 years old. She was in a nursing home.
- Who did Connie Macpherson think her visitor was?
- Which sentence in the text shows that the visitor did not try to hide his identity?
- Connie thought that the visitor was her own husband, Jim Macpherson.
- That sentence is, “you told me you’d come home by Christmas, dearest,” she said, “And here you are, the best Christmas present in the world. Come closer, Jim dear, sit down.
Question: For how long do you think Connie had kept Jim’s letter? Give reasons for your answer.
Answer: Connie had kept Jim’s last letter till January 25, 1915. The letter was dated Dec. 26, 1914.
The Best Christmas Present in the World – Question: Why do you think the desk had been sold, and when?
Answer: The desk must have been sold when Connie’s house had burnt. The table had been damaged by fire as well as water.
Question: Why do Jim and Hans think that games or sports are good ways of resolving conflicts? Do you agree?
Answer: Both Jim and Hans were soldiers. Both were warm hearted. They had seen the sufferings of war. So it was natural for them to hate war. They favored a peaceful solution to settle disputes. Games or sports, they said, were good ways of resolving conflicts. I also quite agree with them.
Question: Do you think the soldiers of the two armies are like each other, or different from each other? Find evidence from the story to support your answer.
Answer: All human beings are alike in many ways. They love peace and hate war. They want to live together. Examples from the story: “Then they were calling out to us from a cross no man’s land. Happy Christmas, Tommy! Happy Christmas!“ When we had got.
Question: Mention the various ways in which the British and the German soldiers become friends and find things in common at Christmas.
Answer: The British and the German soldiers belonged to different camps. They were enemies in war time. But after all they were human beings and therefore they had similar feelings. They shared the festive spirit of the Christmas. They got over hatred and played games, feasted and drank like good friends. Both hated war. Both were anxious to go back to their families at the end of war.
Question: What is Connie’s Christmas present? Why is it the best Christmas present in the world?
Answer: Connie thought that Jim had come back home from war. She mistook the author for Jim. She had been waiting for her husband Jim. So the coming home of Jim was the best Christmas present in the world for her.
Question: Do you think the title of the story is suitable for it? Can you think of any other title(s)?
Answer: Decidedly the title of the story is most suitable. For the old Connie, no other present could have given her such joy as the coming home of Jim, her husband. Her presumption might be wrong, but she got the greatest happiness of her life. Since the story revolves around Christmas, the alternate title of the story could be ‘War and Peace’ or ‘Christmas Gift’. But neither can be a match to the present title.
Question: Look at these sentences from the story.
I spotted it in a junk shop in Bridport… The man said it was made in the early nineteenth century… This one was in a bad condition…
The italicized verbs are in the past tense. They tell us what happened in the past, before now.
(i) Read the passage below and underline the verb in the past tense.
A man got on the train and sat down. The compartment was empty except for one lady. She took her gloves off.
A few hours later the police arrested the man. They held him for 24 hours and then freed him.
Answer: A man got on the train and sat down. The compartment was empty except for one lady. She took her gloves off.
A few hours later the police arrested the man. They held him for 24 hours and then freed him.
Now look at these sentences.
The veneer had lifted almost everywhere. Both fire and water had taken their toll on this desk.
Notice the verb forms had lifted, had taken (their toll).
The author found and bought the desk in the past. The desk was damaged before the author found it and bought it. Fire and water had damaged the desk before the author found it and bought it.
- We use verb forms like had damaged for an event in the ‘earlier past’. If there are two events in the past, we used the ‘had ….’ form for the event that occurred first in the past.
- We also use the past perfect tense to show that something was wished for, or expected before a particular time in the past. For example, I had always wanted one
- Discuss with your partner the difference in meaning in the sentences below.
- When I reached the station, the train left.
- When I reached the station, the train had left.
(ii) Fill in the blanks using the correct form of the verbs in brackets.
My little sister is very naughty. When she———- (come) back from school yesterday, she had ———- (tear) her dress. We——————————————————— (ask) her how it had——– (happen). She—– (say) she——- (have, quarrel) with a boy. She———– (have, beat) him in a race and he——— (have, try) to push her. She——— (have, tell) the teacher and so he——- (have, chase) her and she———- (have, fall) down and——– (have, tear) her dress.
Answer: My little sister is very naughty. When she came back from school yesterday, she had torn her dress. We asked her how it had happened. She said she had quarreled with a boy. She had beaten him in a race and he had tried to push her. She had told the teacher and so he had chased her and she had fallen down and had torn her dress.
(iii) Underline the verbs and arrange them in two columns, Past and Earlier
- My friends set out to see the caves in the next town, but I stayed at home, because I had seen them already.
- When they arrived at the station, their train had left. They came back home, but by that time I had gone out to see a movie!
- So they sat outside and ate the lunch I had packed for them.
- By the time I returned, they had fallen asleep!
(i) set out, stayed
(ii) arrived, came back
(iii) sat, ate
had left, had gone
The Best Christmas Present in the World – Question: Dictionary Work
By the end of the journey, we had run out of drinking water.
Look at the verb run out of in this sentence. It is a phrasal verb: it has two parts, a verb and a preposition or an adverb. Phrasal verbs often have meanings that are different from the meanings of their parts.
Find these phrasal verbs in the story.
Write down the sentences in which they occur. Consult a dictionary and write down the meaning that you think matches the meaning of the phrasal verb in the sentence.
- burn out: House number 12 turned out to be nothing but a burned-out shell, the roof gaping, the windows boarded-up.
- light up: That was the moment her eyes lit up with recognition and her face became suffused with a sudden glow of happiness.
- look on: Hans Wolf and I looked on and cheered, clapping our hands and stamping our feet, to keep out the cold as much as anything.
- run out: The time came, and all too soon, when the game was finished, the schnapps and the rum and the sausage had long since run out, and we knew it was all over.
- keep out: Hans Wolf and I looked on and cheered, clapping our hands and stamping our feet, to keep out the cold as much as anything.
Question: The table below contains a list of nouns and some adjectives. Use as many adjectives as you can to describe each noun. You might come up with some funny descriptions!
circular, striped, enormous, multicolored, round, cheerful, wild, blue, red, chubby, large, medium-sized, cold
|elephant||enormous, cheerful, wild, large, medium-sized,|
|face||round, cheerful, chubby|
|building||multi-colored, blue, red, large, medium-sized|
Question: Imagine that you are Jim. You have returned to your town after the war. In your diary record how you feel about the changes you see and the events that occur in your town. You could begin like this
25 December, 1919
Christmas today, but the town looks…..
Suppose you are the visitor. You are in a dilemma. You don’t know whether to disclose your identity and disappoint the old lady or let her believe that her dear Jim has come back. Write a letter to a friend highlighting your anxiety, fears and feelings.
25 December, 1919
It’s Christmas today, but the town looks very much different from what I had imagined. It has been ravaged by war. Buildings are in ruins and there is graveyard silence. My own house burnt when it was hit by a bombardment. The events of war have taken a toll of civilians as well as soldiers. I hate the fighting instinct in us and curse the war makers (monger). Can’t we live in peace like brothers?
12-A, Block 4,
August 10, 2009 Dear Smith,
I am in a dilemma. It seems to be insolvable. I, therefore, seek your help in making a decision.
You know I had purchased an old desk. Inside it I got a box containing an old letter. It was written by Jim, a British soldier, to his wife. I decided to deliver that letter to Mrs. Jim at Briport.
I reached her house. She was 101 years old. When I gave her the letter, her eyes lit up. She thought I was her long lost husband Jim, who had come home to keep his promise. She was excited and she kissed me. She didn’t listen to what I tried to tell her about my identity.
I don’t know whether or not I should tell who I am. I only walked away from her quickly.
Given below is the outline of a story. Construct the story using the outline.
A young, newly married doctor———- freedom fighter——– exited to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands by the British————– infamous cellular Jail———— prisoners tortured ——- revolt by inmates——— doctor hanged———- wife waits for his return —– becomes old——– continues to wait with hope and faith.
Answer: It was the year 1930. India was a British colony. But English education enlightened a section of people. They started fighting for freedom. A young, newly- married doctor was implicated in a conspiracy case. He was sent to Black Waters (Kalapani) It was a group of Islands in the Bay of Bengal. Many freedom fighters and revolutionaries were sent there for life. They were put in cellular Jail for a few years. They were subjected to torture. The doctor was hanged. But his wife kept waiting for the return of her husband. She grew old. However, her hope and faith did not fade.
Question: How did the author find Jim’s letter? What did it contain?
Answer: The author found Jim’s letter in the small black tin box, put in the drawer of an old table. Jim’s letter was addressed to his wife. He was a British soldier but he was glad to have celebrated Christmas together with the German soldiers. He put it down in the letter and promised to come back home on Christmas.
The Best Christmas Present in the World – Question: Jim talks about an incident that had just happened at the front. What was it?
Answer: England and Germany were at war with each other. The British soldiers were waiting to shoot the German soldiers. But on Christmas, a strange development took place. The German soldiers came out of their hiding places and called out ‘Happy Christmas’. They were unarmed and they waved a white flag. The British soldiers led by captain Jim Macpherson agreed to celebrate the festival together.
The Best Christmas Present in the World – Question: Who are Fritz and Tommy in the story?
Answer: Fritz and Tommy are the names given to the German and the British soldiers respectively.
Question: Describe in brief the author’s meeting with Connie.
Answer: Connie or Mrs Macpherson was 101 years old. When the author took Jim’s letter to her in a nursing home she became very excited. Her eyes lit up and she mistook the author for her husband. She kissed his cheek. She said that she had been reading his letter every day. But she wanted to hear his voice. She had made a Christmas cake also for him as he had promised to come home. She thought that he was back home. She called his presence at home as the best Christmas present for her in the world.
Question: What had happened to Mrs. Macpherson? Describe her condition.
Answer: Mrs. Macpherson lived alone after her husband (Jim Macpherson) went to join the British army during the First World War. One day her house caught fire. But she was saved by the firemen. From then she had been in a nursing home for treatment. She had grown extremely old and couldn’t walk on herself. And her life got confined to a wheelchair.