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The Best Christmas Present in the World Summary – CBSE Class 8 English Honeydew

The Best Christmas Present in the World

Chapter 1 of the CBSE Class 8 English Textbook – Honeydew includes a prose titled “The Best Christmas Present in the World.” This story is set during the Christmas season in the middle of the of war. It highlights the wish of soldiers and their families to be together and enjoy each other’s company. The chapter tells the story of Connie, an elderly woman and the wife of a British soldier. She mistakes a visitor for her husband and regards their reunion as “The Best Christmas Present in the World.”
Here, we provide a brief summary of the prose- The Best Christmas Present in the World. 

CBSE Class 8 English The Best Christmas Present in the World Summary

“The Best Christmas Present in the World,” written by Michael Morpurgo, begins with the author deciding to purchase an old roll-top desk. He finds one in a junk shop in Bridport, and although it is in poor condition, it is reasonably priced. Believing he could fix it, he takes it home. On Christmas Eve, he starts working on it. When he pulls out the drawers, he sees they are damaged. The last drawer is stuck, and he has to use more force to open it.
Finally, the drawer opened, and he found a shallow compartment inside. Within this space, there was a smaller drawer. He found a piece of lined paper on it that read: “Jim’s last letter, received January 25, 1915. To be buried with me when the time comes.” Inside the small drawer, he found an envelope addressed to “Mrs. Jim Macpherson, 12 Copper Beeches, Bridport, Dorset.” He opened the letter and as he started to read it he noticed it was written in pencil and was dated “December 26, 1914.”
The author proceeded to read the letter. It was penned by a German Captain named Jim Macpherson, addressed to his wife, Connie. In the letter, Jim recounted a remarkable event that occurred on the battlefield on Christmas Eve.

During the war between the British and Germans. Both armies were in their trenches on Christmas morning. Suddenly, someone from the German side waved a white flag and called out to the British soldiers, wishing them a Happy Christmas. Surprisingly, some German soldiers began moving towards the British lines. At first, the British Captain was alarmed, fearing an attack. However, to everyone’s relief, the Germans came bearing gifts of German wine and canned meat. They embraced each other warmly and celebrated Christmas Eve together, with no guns between them. Despite being enemies in the midst of war, they made an effort to seek peace and share in the holiday spirit.

A German officer approached Macpherson, offering a handshake and introducing himself as Hans Wolf Dusseldorf. He expressed his fondness for playing the cello in the orchestra and extended Christmas greetings to Macpherson. Macpherson reciprocated by introducing himself as a school teacher from Dorset. Hans Wolf acknowledged his knowledge of Dorset, admitting he had never been there or to England but had learned about it through English literature. He revealed his admiration for Thomas Hardy, citing “Far from the Madding Crowd” as his favorite book. The two men enjoyed Christmas cake together, with Hans Wolf praising the marzipan as the best he had ever tasted. Macpherson later remarked in his letter that it was the most delightful Christmas party he had ever attended.

Out of the blue, another soldier emerged with a football, initiating a friendly match between the British and German soldiers on the field. Macpherson and Dusseldorf enthusiastically applauded and cheered on the players. Macpherson expressed his wish that conflicts between nations could be settled through football matches rather than warfare. He reasoned that in a football match, there are no casualties—no children left orphaned, and no soldiers’ wives widowed.

At last, the football match concluded, with the Germans emerging as the victors. Following the game, everyone indulged in drinks and savored the food. Macpherson bid farewell to Dusseldorf, expressing his desire for future meetings with their families and hoping for an end to the fighting so they could enjoy time with their loved ones. Dusseldorf saluted Macpherson before unwilling departing. That night, the sound of German soldiers singing a Christmas carol filled the air, met with an English chorus of “While Shepherds Watched.” In closing his letter to Connie, Macpherson reflected on these moments as the happiest memories of his life, expressing hope for a smooth end to the war. He reassured Connie of his immediate return to Dorset, eagerly anticipating the opportunity to be reunited and spend time together in peace.

After finishing reading the letter, the author carefully returned it to its envelope, intending to deliver it to its rightful recipient. The following morning, he woke up early and made his way to Bridport. Upon arriving at House No. 12, he found the house burnt out and empty. Seeking information, he knocked on the door of the adjacent house and asked about Mrs. Macpherson’s whereabouts. An elderly resident of the neighborhood informed him that her house had caught fire, likely due to candles, but she had been rescued by firefighters. She was currently receiving care at a nursing home located in Burlington House on Dorchester Road, situated on the opposite side of town.

Later, the author visited Mrs. Macpherson, an old lady confined to a wheelchair at the Burlington House Nursing Home. The matron offered him a mince pie to eat. He introduced himself to Mrs. Macpherson as her husband’s friend, visiting her for Christmas. He wished her well and gave her the tin box containing her husband’s last letter. Her eyes lit up with recognition, and her face glowed with happiness.

The author explained that he was visiting her with a Christmas present and told her about the roll-top desk. Mrs. Macpherson’s eyes filled with tears, and she seemed lost in her thoughts. She mistook the author for her husband and asked him to sit beside her. She told him how much she missed him during the years he was away fighting in the war. She also mentioned that she had made a nice Christmas cake with marzipan because she knew how much he loved it. The story ends with Mrs. Macpherson believing the author was her long-lost husband, for whom she had been waiting for many years.

Conclusion of The Best Christmas Present in the World

The conclusion of “The Best Christmas Present in the World” is about a touching and heartfelt moment. Mrs. Macpherson, an old woman, thinks the author is her husband, Jim, who she had been missing for many years. The author had brought her a tin box with Jim’s last letter, which made her very happy and brought back many memories. Despite the sad times and the years that had passed, this moment gave her great joy. The story ends on a note of love, loss, and the power of memories, showing how a simple act of kindness can mean so much.

We trust that this summary of the CBSE Class 8 English Honeydew Prose, “The Best Christmas Present in the World,” has provided you with a quick grasp of the chapter. Stay connected with GK Publications for the latest updates on CBSE and study materials. Explore sample papers and question papers from various years to enhance your preparation for the Board exams.

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