Helen writes that the first Christmas after Miss Sullivan came to Tuscumbia was “a great event.” Together, Miss Sullivan and Helen prepared surprises for everyone in the family, and for Helen’s friends as well. Helen’s friends teased her with surprises, too, half-spelling the words for the gifts she’d be receiving into her palm before quickly drawing their hands away. As Christmas drew closer, Helen grew more and more excited for the holiday.
Helen had always loved Christmastime, but had never fully understood what was going on in the days leading up to the festivities. Now, with Miss Sullivan at her side, Helen could fully anticipate and appreciate the excitement, glee, and warm feelings of the holiday.
On Christmas Eve, Helen joined the Tuscumbia schoolchildren at their celebration, and she marveled at the beautiful and tall Christmas tree in the center of the room. She “capered” around the tree in delight, and that evening, she lay awake in bed a long time, waiting excitedly for Santa Claus to come. In the morning, Helen found surprises for her scattered all through the house, but the best present of all was Miss Sullivan’s gift—a canary, which Helen named Little Tim.
Helen describes experiencing Christmastime through fresh eyes, truly delighted by the tidings and trimmings of the season for the first time in her life. Miss Sullivan’s presence has made everything wonderful, and the gift she gives Helen—a small piece of nature for Helen to have to herself—is the greatest part of the holiday.
Helen cared dutifully for Little Tim—she cleaned his cage and fed and watered him each day. One morning, however, Helen left the canary’s cage open on the window-seat while preparing water for his bath, and when she returned she felt a cat brush past her. She reached into Tim’s cage, but he was gone, and Helen knew sadly that she would never see her little bird again.
Unfortunately, Helen’s gift from Miss Sullivan is short-lived. Just as Helen learned earlier from the storm that nature has its dark side, she again must confront the sad realities of the natural world.