Advent Calendar

Eloise at Christmastime by Kay Thompson

‘Jingle, jingle, jingle here. Jingle there. Jingle Christmas everywhere.’

Let’s step out of the cold and return to the New York Plaza hotel once more to spend Christmas with its most famous resident, six year old Eloise. If you’ve not met her before, she’s the part feral product of wealth and delegated parenting, who may or may not be based on Liza Minnelli, who lived with the author while her mother Judy Garland was abroad.

It’s a very modern premise for a children’s book of the 1950s, as is the freewheeling language of Kay Thompson and the crisp animated illustrations of Hilary Knight. As a result the Eloise books haven’t aged a day since they were first published.

In Eloise at Christmastime our friend is once again on the loose in the endless corridors of the Plaza, as her mostly companion Nanny is busy getting ready for the big day. As any sane person knows the most fun is to be had on Christmas Eve, a day when mania mingles with good will and Eloise can be at her mischievous best.

‘Oh trinkles my dear. Oh drinkles and sklinkles of fun. It’s Christmas, Christmas Eve. Oh my there’s a lot to be done.’

For Eloise this means decorating the walls of the corridors. And decorating the Christmas tree with half eaten apples, scissors and even a goldfish in a plastic bag.

But when all the hard work is done Eloise has a rare moment of reflection. Santa’s naughty list casts a shadow over her fun and games, ‘If no one remembers me and no presents can I find. I’ll know I don’t deserve them. It doesn’t matter. I don’t mind.’

Despite her unchecked behaviour, Eloise is essentially a generous person, doling out dubious gifts for the long suffering staff and looking out for her favourite pigeon Emily as she prepares to give birth. Most of all she has time for her absolutely best friend Nanny, with whom she shares a tender moment at the crack of Christmas morn, looking out over snow bound Central Park.


3 thoughts on “Eloise at Christmastime by Kay Thompson

  1. Oh, I should have remembered Eloise! She’s one of my heroes — because you’re right, she is “essentially a generous person” rather than a one-dimensional spoiled brat. The TV adaptation starring Sofia Vassilieva and Julie Andrews is surprisingly faithful to that spirit, and it’s become a Christmas tradition for my family.


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