Tuesday, June 30, 2015


The magic of music and Christmas can bring new love.

Music knows what magic needs to be done, and Christmas is the time for love. Milliner and widow Augusta Brown wants a new life and thinks she’ll move to Boston and open a dress company, but her friends urge her to open up to romance instead and start dancing again to the Victrola as she and her late husband had done—especially at Christmas. When a handsome gentleman comes to her hat shop to buy a Christmas hat for his sister, the Victrola mysteriously starts playing Augusta’s favorite Christmas carol, leading to introductions and shy explanations that both Augusta and Andrew Knight are single. Andrew returns for the special hat, the Victrola picks right up with the music and Andrew asks Augusta to dance . . . a dance that continues for many happy years together with that special carol every Christmas Eve.     

A Christmas hat, a magic Victrola, and a special carol create dance and romance. Augusta Brown is a milliner in Philadelphia with a shop in front of her elegant home displaying seasonal hats of every kind: pillbox, cloche, peach basket, fascinator—feathers fixed to a comb, and large-brimmed hats. Her stunning Christmas display features a red and white hat atop a well-lit tree. Her late husband encouraged her weekly ladies club and bought a Victrola that he and Augusta used to dance to, especially “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” at Christmas. With him gone she spends Christmas holidays alone, and the Victrola sits unused in a corner.

Yearning for something new, Augusta feels like moving to Boston and opening a dress company, but her friends urge her to open up to romance instead. When a handsome gentleman enters the shop, the Victrola starts playing “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” startling Augusta, who explains it hasn’t played since her husband passed away. Andrew Knight introduces himself and orders a hat for his sister. Augusta tells him to come back for it the Friday before Christmas.

Augusta works all week on the bright red hat—and makes sure the Victrola is covered and in the corner. She tells the machine that it is the Friday before Christmas, and there is to be no funny business. As Andrew opens the shop door that afternoon, the Victrola begins playing right where it left off. In an awkward moment, Andrew asks Augusta if she cranked the Victrola this morning. While explaining that she hadn’t touched the Victrola, Andrew takes the hatbox and holds it at his chest. He wanders around the shop, admiring Augusta’s store. Then he finally turns and asks if she would like to go to Christmas Eve dinner with him and his family. After mumbling “yes,” he tells her to be ready after closing her shop on Christmas Eve.

When Andrew arrives at Augusta’s door late Christmas Eve, the Victrola begins playing again. As Augusta rushes toward the Victrola to turn it off, Andrew takes her hand and twirls her in a circle. Augusta reluctantly rests her head on his shoulder through all five verses of the carol. Although she puts up a fuss for months, Augusta never buys a train ticket to Boston to start a dress company. She stays in Philadelphia with her hats, spending each Christmas with Andrew as her husband, dancing to the Victrola. Augusta is grateful for the midnight hour when love itself became clear.

Copyright 2022 Jennifer Waters

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