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Christmas Dinner

Remembering those who are hungry this Christmas

by Janice Ross

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To consider those who will be hungry this Christmas.

Preparation and materials

  • An excerpt from ‘Farmer Boy’ by Laura Ingalls Wilder (see below).
  • Appropriate images showing the poor and hungry.


1. Read the following excerpt from the story Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder (check copyright).

Almanzo bowed his head and shut his eyes tight while Father said the blessing. It was a long blessing, because this was Christmas Day. But at last, Almanzo could open his eyes. He sat and silently looked at that table.
He looked at the crisp, crackling little pig lying on the blue platter with an apple in its mouth. He looked at the fat roast goose, the drumsticks sticking up, and the edges of dressing curling out. The sound of Father’s knife sharpening on the whetstone made him even hungrier.
He looked at the big bowl of cranberry jelly, and at the fluffy mountain of mashed potatoes with melting butter trickling down it. He looked at the heap of mashed turnips, and the golden baked squash, and the pale fried parsnips.
He swallowed hard and tried not to look any more. He couldn’t help seeing the fried apples ‘n onions, and the candied carrots. He couldn’t help gazing at the triangles of pie, waiting by his plate: the spicy pumpkin pie, the melting cream pie, the rich, dark mince oozing from between the mince pie’s flaky crusts.
He squeezed his hands together between his knees. He had to sit silent and wait, but he felt aching and hollow inside.
All grown-ups at the head of the table must be served first. They were passing their plates, and talking, and heartlessly laughing. The tender pork fell away in slices under Father’s carving-knife. The white breast of the goose went piece by piece from the bare breast-bone. Spoons ate up the clear cranberry jelly, and gouged deep into the mashed potatoes, and ladled away the brown gravies.
Almanzo had to wait to the very last. He was the youngest of all, except Abner and the babies, and Abner was company.
At last Almanzo’s plate was filled. The first taste made a pleasant feeling inside him, and it grew and grew, while he ate and ate and ate. He ate till he could eat no more, and he felt very good inside. For a while he slowly nibbled bits from his second piece of fruitcake. Then he put the fruity slice in his pocket and went out to play.

2. How many of the foods on the table in the story can the children remember? Talk about Christmas dinner in our homes. What foods might be on our tables?

3. Ask the children to imagine what it would be like if all they could do was to look at the food - if none of the food would be shared with them. Imagine that they were just to remain ‘hollow’ and ‘aching’ inside.

Display the images of the poor and hungry, if being used.

Ask the children what they think might be on the Christmas dinner table for these people.

4. Statistics tell us that only one in three children in the world will have food this Christmas. Demonstrate this by asking all the children to stand. Count along the rows, repeating the numbers one to three. The number ones should be instructed to sit down. All those left standing would be the hungry in our world.

Time for reflection

We are often so full after our Christmas dinner that we say we are ‘stuffed’, a bit like the turkey!
Let’s think about this question:

'Is there something that we, who have so much, can do to help those who are hungry this Christmas?'

Dear God,
Christmas is a message of love, hope, joy and peace for all men everywhere.
We are sorry that the world is such an unequal place, where some people have far too much and many more have nothing.
Thank you for all the relief agencies that are working so tirelessly to bring help to those in need throughout the world.
Please show me how I can play a small part in helping them.

Publication date: December 2015   (Vol.17 No.12)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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