A Candy Cane for Percy, by Sherry Johnson

By: Sherry L. B. Johnson


Christmas 1880 was a disappointment for Percy Ireland.

Firstly, he didn’t even get to see his father or sister. Travel was just too hard and miserable at that time of year. Secondly, his much hoped for presents were useful, like new pants and a lunch pail.

Grandmama McDonald and Aunt Frances tried to make it a special time, which Percy appreciated but it was clear they had no idea what a seven year old boy would want for Christmas.

He would have been absolutely miserable if it hadn’t been for cousin Isabella who, although almost a grown up, would at least read to him. She, too, loved the stories his mother had read to him. They’d become his to keep after she died.

In his copy of “The Nursery” magazine was a Christmas story about candy canes, something that was just starting to be part of Christmas. He dreamed of candy canes. A Christmas tree with candles and candy canes, enough candy canes to last the whole year through.

He dreamed of Santa, who probably didn’t arrive, although he might have been responsible for the Christmas morning orange. It was a special treat, one he saved to share with cousin Isabella.

When the chimney sweep arrived to clean the chimneys a couple of days after Christmas, it was time to admit to himself that Santa and candy canes weren’t going to magically happen.

Percy had met the sweep, William B Jollest before. The cheerful sweep liked children, taking time to answer questions and tell stories while he worked. It wasn’t long before he had the story of a sad Christmas out of Percy.

“Well, young man,” William said as he got ready to leave at the end of the day, “I wouldn’t give up yet. Magic happens in its own time.”

The next morning Mr Jollest was back to finish the last chimney. He pushed the brush up and pulled it down. Then he jumped back, turned around holding a dirty little bundle with a ribbon tied around it.

Handing it to Percy who was hanging around watching, he said “I think this might be yours.” Inside was not one but two candy canes. On a piece of paper with them was a note that read;

"One for you and one for sharing, keep reading."

~ Santa ~

By Sherry L.B. Johnson, (© 2020 GanWalker)

We introduced Sherry Johnson in July 2017 in Sherry’s Walking Heritage Tours, Here is an intro: “Sherry was born in Vancouver and grew up all across Canada. By the time she was five, she likely had enough world travel miles to have gone around the world several times. She had her first spaghetti in Germany and her first grilled cheese sandwich in Ghana, and her first pizza in Canada. The end result was that while she likes people who travel, she has no desire to travel herself, preferring to have the interesting people of the world come to her. Today she organizes private and group tours of Gananoque called the GanWalker.

Endnote: Percy Ireland was a real boy who lived with his grandmother and aunt in Gananoque Town Hall when it was still a private home. Cousin Isabella lived nearby at Blinkbonnie. William B Jollest was a real chimney sweep in Kingston. As to the rest of the story I don’t know for sure that it happened, but it might just have.

Posted in: STORIES+, Volume 15, Issue 12, December 2020

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