Miss November's Dinner Party by Agnes Carr

An amusing allegorical fantasy. All the most interesting Days, grandchildren of Mother Year, came to Mrs. November's dinner party, to honour the birthday of her daughter, Thanksgiving.
THE widow November was very busy indeed this year. What with elections and harvest homes, her hands were full to overflowing; for she takes great interest in politics, besides being a social body, without whom no apple bee or corn husking is complete.

Still, worn out as she was, when her thirty sons and daughters clustered round, and begged that they might have their usual family dinner on Thanksgiving Day, she could not find it in her hospitable heart to refuse, and immediately invitations were sent to her eleven brothers and sisters, old Father Time, and Mother Year, to come with all their families and celebrate the great American holiday.

Then what a busy time ensued! What a slaughter of unhappy barnyard families—turkeys, ducks, and chickens! What a chopping of apples and boiling of doughnuts! What a picking of raisins and rolling of pie crust, until every nook and corner of the immense storeroom was stocked with "savoury mince and toothsome pumpkin pies," while so great was the confusion that even the stolid red-hued servant, Indian Summer, lost his head, and smoked so continually he always appeared surrounded by a blue mist, as he piled logs upon the great bonfires in the yard, until they lighted up the whole country for miles around.

But at length all was ready; the happy day had come, and all the little Novembers, in their best "bib and tucker," were seated in a row, awaiting the arrival of their uncles, aunts, and cousins, while their mother, in russet-brown silk trimmed with misty lace, looked them over, straightening Guy Fawkes's collar, tying Thanksgiving's neck ribbon, and settling a dispute between two little presidential candidates as to which should sit at the head of the table.

Soon a merry clashing of bells, blowing of horns, and mingling of voices were heard outside, sleighs and carriages dashed up to the door, and in came, "just in season," Grandpa Time, with Grandma Year leaning on his arm, followed by all their children and grandchildren, and were warmly welcomed by the hostess and her family.

"Oh, how glad I am we could all come to-day!" said Mr. January, in his crisp, clear tones, throwing off his great fur coat, and rushing to the blazing fire. "There is nothing like the happy returns of these days."

"Nothing, indeed," simpered Mrs. February, the poetess. "If I had had time I should have composed some verses for the occasion; but my son Valentine has brought a sugar heart, with a sweet sentiment on it, to his cousin Thanksgiving. I, too, have taken the liberty of bringing a sort of adopted child of mine, young Leap Year, who makes us a visit every four years."

"He is very welcome, I am sure," said Mrs. November, patting Leap Year kindly on the head. "And, Sister March, how have you been since we last met?"

"Oh! we have had the North, South, East, and West Winds all at our house, and they have kept things breezy, I assure you. But I really feared we should not get here to-day; for when we came to dress I found nearly everything we had was lent; so that must account for our shabby appearance."

"He! he! he!" tittered little April Fool. "What a sell!" And he shook until the bells on his cap rang; at which his father ceased for a moment showering kisses on his nieces and nephews, and boxed his ears for his rudeness.

"Oh, Aunt May! do tell us a story," clamoured the younger children, and dragging her into a corner she was soon deep in such a moving tale that they were all melted to tears, especially the little Aprils, who cry very easily.

Meanwhile, Mrs. June, assisted by her youngest daughter, a "sweet girl graduate," just from school, was engaged in decking the apartment with roses and lilies and other fragrant flowers that she had brought from her extensive gardens and conservatories, until the room was a perfect bower of sweetness and beauty; while Mr. July draped the walls with flags and banners, lighted the candles, and showed off the tricks of his pet eagle, Yankee Doodle, to the great delight of the little ones.

Madam August, who suffers a great deal with the heat, found a seat on a comfortable sofa, as far from the fire as possible, and waved a huge feather fan back and forth, while her thirty-one boys and girls, led by the two oldest, Holiday and Vacation, ran riot through the long rooms, picking at their Aunt June's flowers, and playing all sorts of pranks, regardless of tumbled hair and torn clothes, while they shouted, "Hurrah for fun!" and behaved like a pack of wild colts let loose in a green pasture, until their Uncle September called them, together with his own children, into the library, and persuaded them to read some of the books with which the shelves were filled, or play quietly with the game of Authors and the Dissected Maps.

"For," said Mr. September to Mrs. October, "I think Sister August lets her children romp too much. I always like improving games for mine, although I have great trouble to make Equinox toe the line as he should."

"That is because you are a schoolmaster," laughed Mrs. October, shaking her head, adorned with a wreath of gayly tinted leaves; "but where is my baby?"

At that moment a cry was heard without, and Indian Summer came running in to say that little All Hallows had fallen into a tub of water while trying to catch an apple that was floating on top, and Mrs. October, rushing off to the kitchen, returned with her youngest in a very wet and dripping condition, and screaming at the top of his lusty little lungs, and could only be consoled by a handful of chestnuts, which his nurse, Miss Frost, cracked open for him.

The little Novembers, meanwhile, were having a charming time with their favourite cousins, the Decembers, who were always so gay and jolly, and had such a delightful papa. He came with his pockets stuffed full of toys and sugarplums, which he drew out from time to time, and gave to his best-loved child, Merry Christmas, to distribute amongst the children, who gathered eagerly around their little cousin, saying:

"Christmas comes but once a year,
But when she comes she brings good cheer."
At which Merry laughed gayly, and tossed her golden curls, in which were twined sprays of holly and clusters of brilliant scarlet berries.

At last the great folding-doors were thrown open. Indian Summer announced that dinner was served, and a long procession of old and young being quickly formed, led by Mrs. November and her daughter Thanksgiving, whose birthday it was, they filed into the spacious dining-room, where stood the long table groaning beneath its weight of good things, while four servants ran continually in and out bringing more substantials and delicacies to grace the board and please the appetite. Winter staggered beneath great trenchers of meat and poultry, pies and puddings; Spring brought the earliest and freshest vegetables; Summer, the richest creams and ices; while Autumn served the guests with fruit, and poured the sparkling wine.

All were gay and jolly, and many a joke was cracked as the contents of each plate and dish melted away like snow before the sun; and the great fires roared in the wide chimneys as though singing a glad Thanksgiving song.

New Year drank everybody's health, and wished them "many happy returns of the day," while Twelfth Night ate so much cake he made himself quite ill, and had to be put to bed.

Valentine sent mottoes to all the little girls, and praised their bright eyes and glossy curls. "For," said his mother, "he is a sad flatterer, and not nearly so truthful, I am sorry to say, as his brother, George Washington, who never told a lie."

At which Grandfather Time gave George a quarter, and said he should always remember what a good boy he was.

After dinner the fun increased, all trying to do something for the general amusement. Mrs. March persuaded her son, St. Patrick, to dance an Irish Jig, which he did to the tune of the "Wearing of the Green," which his brothers, Windy and Gusty, blew and whistled on their fingers.

Easter sang a beautiful song, the little Mays "tripped the light fantastic toe" in a pretty fancy dance, while the Junes sat by so smiling and sweet it was a pleasure to look at them.

Independence, the fourth child of Mr. July, who is a bold little fellow, and a fine speaker, gave them an oration he had learned at school; and the Augusts suggested games of tag and blindman's buff, which they all enjoyed heartily.

Mr. September tried to read an instructive story aloud, but was interrupted by Equinox, April Fool, and little All Hallows, who pinned streamers to his coat tails, covered him with flour, and would not let him get through a line; at which Mrs. October hugged her tricksy baby, and laughed until she cried, and Mr. September retired in disgust.

"That is almost too bad," said Mrs. November, as she shook the popper vigorously in which the corn was popping and snapping merrily; "but, Thanksgiving, you must not forget to thank your cousins for all they have done to honour your birthday."

At which the demure little maiden went round to each one, and returned her thanks in such a charming way it was quite captivating.

Grandmother Year at last began to nod over her teacup in the chimney corner.

"It is growing late," said Grandpa Time.

"But we must have a Virginia Reel before we go," said Mr. December.

"Oh, yes, yes!" cried all the children.

Merry Christmas played a lively air on the piano, and old and young took their positions on the polished floor with grandpa and grandma at the head.

Midsummer danced with Happy New Year, June's Commencement with August's Holiday, Leap Year with May Day, and all "went merry as a marriage bell."

The fun was at its height when suddenly the clock in the corner struck twelve. Grandma Year motioned all to stop, and Grandfather Time, bowing his head, said softly, "Hark! my children, Thanksgiving Day is ended."