Janet, or, The Christmas Stockings

December 13, 2010

I am so angry at Louise Elise Gibbons that, when I finished Janet, or, The Christmas Stockings, I took a few moments to fantasize about finding out where she was buried, digging her up, punching her corpse in the face, and then somehow making her watch a dog drown. And I know that sounds horrible, but honestly, it’s a lot less morbid than the content of this story.

There’s this girl, Janet. And her family is dirt poor, although I guess that’s a given. And there’s a bit where the Bishop invites her to church and gives her a pair of Christmas stockings, but that’s pretty much overshadowed by the way her drunk dad falls down dead one afternoon, followed the next day by the entire rest of her family in one fell diphtheria-laden swoop. Her friend Roy, a newsboy, installs her in the home of an apple-woman, but he is soon run over by a cart and killed, leaving Janet with no friend but the apple-woman’s dog. So she goes to Central Park and drowns herself. And then, as if that wasn’t more than enough, the dog drowns itself too.

I hate this story so much.

I have provided a link to the text — the Google books scan is actual of the same copy of the book that I read — but I earnestly advise against reading it.


  1. Okay, I’ll take your advice on this one. Is that your review on Google books?

    • Um, yeah. I was terrified that someone would be looking for short Christmas stories for children — as I was when I found it — and would actually read it to a kid. And I’d like to prevent any children from being scarred for life, if I can.

  2. LOL! This sounds horrible–and the title had the word “Christmas” in it? I’m going to assume that readers in the 1890s felt just as duped and irate as you do today, only they were lucky enough to write to the author!

    • I don’t think I can actually deny this one Christmas story status — there’s the stockings, and the Bishop, and a lot of “God? I wonder who that is, because I have no education.” — but, yeah, I doubt this was what people would have been looking for when they bought it. On the other hand, maybe not many people did buy it — I went looking for contemporary reviews, but all I could find was an indication that it was self-published.

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