The Best Christmas present in the World is a heart touching story by Michael Morpurgo. The narrator buys an old desk and finds a letter inside it, written by an English Soldier Jim Macpherson to his wife, Connie. The narrator goes to handover the letter to Mrs. Macpherson.
The theme of the story, "The Best Christmas Present in the World," depicts friendship and universal friendliness. The narrator wants a roll-top desk. He went to a junk shop in Bridport, looking for a roll-top desk. The narrator picks up the desk made of oak. The narrator finds it cheaper than the other desks he had seen.
Although the desk which was bought by the narrator was not suitable and not in proper shape either, he started working on it. He took out the damaged cover. He observed that fire and water had taken a toll on the desk, and then he opened all the drawers present on the desk very easily. But for the last one, he had to apply some force.
In the last drawer, he found a tin box. He took out this tin box with a note on it with instructions to bury the letter with her. Out of curiosity, he read all the letters present in the tiny box. A lady Macpherson’s address was mentioned in the letter. He read a letter which was written with a pencil.
In that letter, her husband (captain of the English Army) was happily sharing an incident held on Christmas morning, and they were standing in their trenches. He observed a white flag that was waved from the German soldier’s side. They called out “Happy Christmas” loudly to the soldiers from his side. They also wished them back cheerfully.
However, they offered them to share schnapps and sausage. About 12 soldiers started coming towards them in no man's land. Initially, the narrator was apprehensive, yet he made no efforts to stop them. Mr. Macpherson was pleased that the narrator was celebrating with his enemies. He further added that he liked the German officer’s way, who came towards him and introduced himself.
He wished him “Happy Christmas” and told him that he should play cello in the orchestra. He was surprised and greeted the German officer, and he replied that he was a schoolteacher from Dorset. He then shared rum and sausage. He spoke almost perfect English. He was surprised to see Dusseldorf speaking good English and knew about Dorset where he had gone.
The narrator had the best time celebrating with the enemy. Next, they played football, which was a fun element. They all made goalposts by pitting Greatcoats. Macpherson was sure of winning a game of cricket but was not any good at playing football. The Germans won the game, and to his surprise, Hans Wolf admitted their goal was wider than theirs.
Soldiers of both sides said goodbye to each other and felt that the night was a memorable one. Jim concluded the letter by saying that both the German and England armies wanted peace. After reading the letter, the author could not sleep and decided to drive to Bridport. He asked the address from a boy, and he went there. The old man told him that he knew Mrs. Macpherson.
Her house was burnt as she used the candles instead of using electricity, considering it to be cheap. She was in a nursing home named ‘Burlington House’ on Dorchester road. He went to the nursing house, and there was a hallway, and a lighted Christmas tree kept in a corner when he entered that house. He asked for Mr. Macpherson while waiting to observe that all the persons in the house were in the dining room and were singing and wearing a paper hat.
The matron offered a mince pie and told him that she was not with others, and she would be happy to have a visitor as she does not have a family. He saw a lady sitting in a wheelchair and folded hands in her lap, and her hair was in a wispy bun folding. The narrator wished her Merry Christmas and handed the box to her.
She saw the tiny box with a letter and smiled. She came forward with tearful eyes. She asked him to sit and read all the letters present in the box. She wanted to hear his voice and told him that they would have a Christmas Cake and Marzipan. She further said that she had received the Best Christmas Present in the World.
War can only result in the hatred and destruction between two countries, but a small gesture of kindness and empathy can make this world a better place for all. The Best Christmas Present in the World lesson highlights how two armies instead of hating each other, meet cheerfully to each other to celebrate the Christmas and it becomes one of the best Christmas of their life. The story also highlights the act of kindness and empathy by the narrator when he decides to hand over the letters he found in his desk to Mrs Macpherson who gets really happy after receiving the last memory of his late husband. Sometimes, it just takes a little kindness and empathy towards other people to make them happy.