‘Christmas Shopping’ taken from Mary Poppins written by P.L. Travers and illustrated by Mary Shepard (Collins 1958, 1998). First published by Peter Davies Ltd 1934.
As we head into the last full week before Christmas I am conscious of just how many festive poems and stories that I will not have room to put up on the Landing Advent Calendar. Nevertheless I am pleased that I have managed to include so many of our old family favourites along the way. Perhaps I will have to do it all again next year.
Today is the turn of everyone’s favourite nanny, Mary Poppins who was at various times the mainstay of the Banks’ household. In the Christmas shopping episode Mary Poppins has taken Michael and Jane into town. There they have a magical encounter with one of the Seven Sisters who has come to earth in human form to do a spot of seasonal shopping:
“Now you recognise me, don’t you? I’m the second of the Pleiades. Electra – she’s the eldest – couldn’t come because she’s minding Merope. Merope’s the baby, and the other five of us come in between – all girls. Our Mother was very disappointed at first not to have a boy, but now she doesn’t mind.”
“But what are you doing here?” demanded Michael, still very surprised.
Maia laughed. “Ask Mary Poppins. I am sure she knows.”
“Tell us, Mary Poppins,” said Jane.
“Well,” said Mary Poppins snappily, “I suppose you two aren’t the only ones in the world that want to go shopping at Christmas-“
“That’s it,” squealed Maia delightedly. “She’s quite right. I’ve come down to buy toys for them all. We can’t get away very often, you know, because we’re so busy making and storing up the Spring Rains…”
Maia has a lovely time choosing gifts for her sisters: A stove with silver saucepans for Electra; a skipping rope for Taygete; Alcyone gets The Swiss Family Robinson; Celaeno has a hoop; there is a spinning top for Sterope and a rubber duck for Merope.
If you want to know how an astral body pays for her shopping, or indeed what she receives for Christmas then look out for this Mary Poppins story. As is usual in any adventure with their mysterious nanny, the children are not sure whether they really saw what they thought they saw, or simply had a wonderful dream. And as Mary Poppins’ readers will know, she never tells anybody anything…
(The image of the Pleiades was sourced from Wikipedia)