yet : Used with not or no, as here, this word == up to this time, so far. Note that Christmas comes at a cold time of year in England.
cousin : a person's 'cousin' is the son or daughter of his uncle or aunt, so the children of brothers and so on are 'cousins' to one another).
dance : International word. The verb 'dance' == 'go through a form of moving in regular rhythm, generally to music and using special steps', and 'a dance' is such a form. But it may also == 'a coming together of people for the purpose of dancing', and that is the sense it has here.
hall : In addition to the sense we have had earlier (see Book I, Letter 1) this word is also used as the name of a great room or special building use for meetings, talks, dances and so on.
bunches : a 'bunch' is a group of things massed together, specially flowers. Notice the plural form.
gay == happy and bright (used of people or things).
sideboard : This complex word, made by putting together the words 'side' and 'board', is the name given to a large, somewhat low, cupboard or table with drawers used in a dining-room for keeping dishes, wines, fruit, knives and forks, and other things used at meals, on or in.
turkey == a sort of farm bird of great size used as food, specially at Christmas.
prepared ; Past Participle of 'prepare' == 'make ready', which was used in Book I, Letter 8.
Christmas pudding == a special sort of sweet pudding eaten at Christmas dinner in England.
shall : This word is generally used with 'I' and 'we' as a sign of the future in place of 'will' (but not with 'you', 'he', and so on). 'I will'' does put an act in the future, but it gives at the same time the suggestion of purpose ; 'I shall' gives no suggestion, it is simply a statement about the future. "I shall see him tomorrow" == that is what is going to take place ; "I will see him tomorrow" == that is what my purpose is, what I am going to make come about. A little later in the letter we shall see the Simple Past should..
opened : the Simple Past of the regular verb 'open', which we saw in Book I, Letter 8.
hurrying ; This is the -ing form of the verb 'hurry' == ' do, go quickly', which we had in Book I, Letter 6.
at the last minute : To do anything 'at the last minute', is to do it as late as possible, when in a short time the chance of dong it will be gone.
custom == thing which is regularly done.
best friends : We call our chief friend or friends our 'best friend(s)'.
gaily ; Notice the adverb formed from gay by adding -ly after changing the ' y ' to ' i ', == 'i n a gay way ', or , here, ' so as to look gay'.
decorated : This is the Past Participle of the verb 'decorate', which has the sense ' put ornaments on or in, make look gay or beautiful by ornamenting'.
pretty == pleasing to the eye. This word is less serious than 'beautiful', it is used for things which give pleasure to our eyes but without moving us deeply.
hung : This is the Past Participle of the verb ' hang', which we had in Book I, Letter 7. Note that the Simple Past, to which we will come later in the letter, has the same form ' hung',
overhead ; This complex word is a short way of saying 'over our heads, up in the air'.
wait : Another regular verb which has a connection with a Basic word ending in -ing. the sense is 'be waiting'. The Simple Past and Past Participle are formed by the addition of -ed (waited).
served ; We had the word 'serve' in connection with having a meal (Book I, Letter 4), where Mrs English was said to 'serve' those at the table when she gave them vegetables. In the same way, a person working in a shop 'serves' those who come in to buy when he gets them what they ask for.
because of == as the effect of. give attention to this form of words.
delays ; The plural of the word 'delay', the sense of which is 'a loss of time, a keeping back in the process of going somewhere, or doing something'.
as soon as == with no loss of time after, with no waiting after.
wore : Here we have the Simple Past of the verb 'wear' == ' have on as clothing'. Remember that the Past Participle, which we had in Book I, is ' worn'.
expect == be looking on as to come, be looking forward to.
wonder == have a desire to know the answer to some question, be playing with it in one's mind. this verb is regular.
find == 'make the discovery of, come across'. this verb has the irregular Simple Past and Past Participle found.
photograph : A 'photograph' is a picture made with a camera. Take note that we say 'take a photograph'.
on holiday == having a holiday. Give attention to this us of on with holiday.
in the belief that == because they have the belief that. In has a like use with hope : "We went in the hope that she would be there".
chimney == outlet for smoke from a fire, going up from the fireplace though the roof and ending in a tall structure outside.
fill == make full. In the next statement we have the Simple Past of this verb, ' filled '. The Past Participle has the same form ' filled '.
softly == very quietly. From the expansion of soft == 'not loud '.
hung : == Here is the Simple Past of the verb ' hang'.
real == truly having existence, not a fiction.
sleigh == carriage with long blades in place of wheels, used for going over snow.
reindeer : A 'reindeer' is a certain animal of the far North (see picture). Note that the Plural is the same as the singular, like sheep. The story is that Father Christmas lives far in the North among snow and ice, for that reason he is pictured as journeying to other countries at Christmas in a sleigh pulled by reindeer.
already == by now, before this time.
feel : Again a verb which has a connection with a Basic word ending in -ing. The sense of ' feel ' is ' be feeling, having the feeling (that) '. ' Feeling' is often used loosely in the sense of 'idea about something' and ' feel ' here == ' have the idea that '. The Simple past and Past Participle of this verb have the same form, ' felt '.
wake up == become awake. Notice the use of up. ' Wake' may quite well be used by itself, but 'up' is very commonly put after it.
asleep == sleeping. This word is parallel in form and opposite in sense to 'awake'.
greetings : As we have seen, a 'greeting' is something said in greeting (Book I, Letter 8), and we may send a greeting as well as say y one, that is, putting in writing the sort of kind thought, good wish, which it would be natural to say to a person on meeting him. The plural 'greetings' is frequently used in connection with Christmas, birthdays, and so on -- possibly because at these times we generally say more than one thing.
wishes : This is the plural of the noun wish, which has the same relation to the verb 'wish' as the noun ' hope' has to the verb ' hope', that is 'a wish' is 'an act of wishing' or 'what is wished '. To give a person our good wishes is to wish good things for him.
ring == (of a bell) give out its clear, natural sound. That is the sense here, but in the next statement "The bells are rung", the Past Particle is used with, or, as we say, in, the sense 'made to ring'. That is, when bells give out a sound they are said to 'ring', and when we put them in motion so as to make this sound, we are said to 'ring them'. Take note that there is no connection between this verb and the noun 'ring'.
knew : The simple Past of the verb ' know' (Book I, Letter 1).
stay up ; The sense of the verb 'stay', as we have seen, is ' keep in some place, position', and up is used as the opposite of 'in bed '. So stay up is ' not to go to bed '.
hear ==be hearing, have the experience of hearing. The third verb in this Letter having a connection with a Basic word ending in -ing. In the next statement you will see the Simple Past, heard, which is the same in form as the Past Participle.
singing ; The verb 'sing', of which this is the -ing form, has the sense 'make music with the voice, be using one's voice in song, give a song'.
outside : This complex word has the root sense, clear from its parts, of a noun == ' the out side of anything, the part which is out, not in', as "The outside of the house is painted white". It then comes to be used as a word of direction or position == 'on, to, the outside (of) ' or 'in the open air, not in any building', as "The dog is kept outside:, or, as here, "Outside the door was a small boy", "Come outside the house with me."
wished us a happy Christmas ; When we 'wish a person something' it is a short and very common way of saying that we 'wish that he will have whatever it is'. ' Wished ' is the regular Simple Past of the verb 'wish', used in Book I, Letter 8.
enjoy : The verb 'enjoy' has the sense 'get pleasure from'. It is a regular verb.
danced : The Simple Past of the regular verb 'dance', on which we had a note earlier.
found : the Simple Past of ' find ', which was made clear in Letter 1. The Past Participle has the same form, ' found '. ("The baby was found in the church.")
postman : The send of this complex word (made up of the international word post and the Basic word man) will be clear to everybody. A 'postman' is, of course, a man whose work is taking round letters and other things sent through the post.
brought : The Simple Past of the verb 'bring' which came in Book I, Letter 6. Another verb of which the Simple Past and the Past Participle are the same in form. ("Why have you not brought your music ?").
a lot more : 'More' is used as a sign, not only of comparison but of addition. So we may say not only "the postman brought more letters today than yesterday," but also "The postman brought more letters later today", to give the idea that he brought letters again today, as an addition to those he brought earlier. When it is so used, if it is desired to show the number or amount of the addition, the word or words giving this are put before 'more'. So we have ' have more rain today', or 'some more rain' or 'a little more rain or 'a lot more rain' or 'much more rain, or 'get two (three an so on) more cards by the next post.'
greeted : Past Participle of the regular verb 'greet'. (See this book Letter 1, and Book I, Letter 8.)
absent == not present, in another place. Give attention to the fact that we say absent from (a place).
remember == have, keep, in (one's) memory. A regular verb.
members : Plural of the word 'member'. A person who is one of a group, such as a family, a society, a company, is a 'member' of that group.
merry == gay, laughing, full of pleasure and amusement. "very Christmas" == "I hope that you will have a merry Christmas Day."
father-in-law == the father of a person's husband or wife. In the same way, mother-in-law == the mother of a person's husband or wife. So Mr. English's mother is Mrs. English's mother-in-law.
generous == giving freely, kind in giving.
cook : Here the sense is ' become cooked, undergo cooking'. We say both "The cook is cooking (the food)" and "The food is cooking."
amusing == marked by humour, causing people to laugh. Take note of the connection with amusement.
jokes : The plural of 'joke' == amusing story or thing said.
party == group of people joined together for some purpose specially one come together for amusement. It may also have the sense, as we see further down, of the event, 'a coming or getting together for pleasure.'
asked : The Past Participle of 'ask'. Note that when we are talking of asking someone to come to a party, a meal, and so on, the words ' to come' are often dropped out.
next door : A house is 'next door to' another if it is the next on the street (so that one goes into it throughthe next door (to us)' or that something 'is going on next door', in place of saying 'in the house next door to this one.'
ages : The sense of the word age is : ' the time for which anything has been in existence, how old a thing or person is.'
about : This is a new sense of about == 'almost, roughly'.
just == not more or less than. This is the root sense ("It is just six o'clock"), but the word is used here in a little wider sense, "She is just six" -- "She has become six only in the very near past, she is only now six."
pieces : The plural of the word, 'piece' which == 'a part, an amount (of something solid), a bit.' It is very like ' bit ', but ' bit ' gives the suggestion of a small part, and a 'piece' may be of any size.
enjoyed : The Simple Past of the regular verb 'enjoy,' used in Letter 1.
play games : We have seen the verb 'play' used by itself in the sense of ' be playing, give oneself amusement.' Now we see that it may have after it the name of the sort of playing which takes place, that is 'game', 'sport ' or the name of any special form of game or sport, such as ' football '. In this use, its sense is nearer to : 'give oneself amusement by taking part in (some game or sport)'.
hide == get or put into a secret place, out of view. A person may hide himself or simply hide ; or he may hide his money or any other thing.
look for : We have seen that one of the chief senses of the verb ' look' is 'give a look (at something)'. Here, with for, its sense is 'give a look wherever something might be, for the purpose of finding it, making discovery of it.'
first : That is, before you do any other thing.
inside : This complex word is the opposite of outside, which we had in Letter 1. So we may say "The inside of the box is red", "There is nothing inside it", or, as here, "Come inside."
cried : The simple Past of the regular verb 'cry', the root sense of which is, as here 'give a cry of, say suddenly and loudly'.
shining == very bright, giving back light like a looking-glass. This is the -ing form of the verb 'shine', which has the sense ' be bright as if polished, give out or give back a bright light,' as "The sun shines".
string == thin cord used for putting round small parcels.
doll == a plaything for a child in the form of a person or a baby. Here the doll is a copy of a little girl. Dolls are made of wax, wood, pot, straw, cloth, and other materials.
ribbon == a band of some thin material such as silk, used chiefly for ornamenting hair or clothing.
curly == (chiefly of hair) not straight, with a tendency to make screw-like twists.
dressed up as : You probably know that 'dress up' has the sense 'put on special clothes' -- it may be one's best clothes to go to church or a party, or it may be clothes representative of some other time in history or some other country. In connection with this second sense, having to do with acting, as is used as a pointer to the person, whose dress is being copied. Here James has put on the clothes representative of Father Christmas.
beard == growth of hair on the chin, sometimes very long. See picture.
toy == plaything. Put before the name of some other thing it gives the sense of 'not real, only a copy for playing with ', as ' toy gun' and ' toy airplane'.
airplane : It is probably unnecessary to give the sense of this complex word == 'machine with wings for flight '.
drum == an instrument of music made of the dry skin of an animal stretched over the opening(s) of a pipe-like or basin-like hollow frame. The sound is made by giving blows on the skin with a stick or the fingers. There are many different sorts of drum. The sort commonest in Europe is pictured hanging on the Christmas tree.
beat == give blows to (a drum or any other thing).
blow : The verb 'blow' has a connection with the root sense of the noun ' blow', but with the expansion of it == 'air current'. Its sense is ' be moving as a current of air' (' the wind blows'), or 'send a current of air out or through, specially through an instrument of music with the mouth'. So one ' blows a whistle' by putting the hollow end between one's lips and sending one's breath through it with force.
sang : The simple Past of 'sing', which we have had in Letter 1.
played : The Simple Past of the regular verb 'play', used earlier in this Letter.
thanked : The form ' thank you' (Book I, Letter 4) is a short way of saying "I thank you", that is, ' thank ' is a regular verb having a general use in the sense of 'say to (a person) words making clear one's sense of debt to him for something he has done or said ' or, more shortly, 'say "' thank you"' to' (a person). Here we have the Simple Past.
enjoyed themselves == had a good time. One may 'enjoy' a certain thing, as we have seen (Janet 'enjoyed the dance', the boy's 'enjoyed the cake'), or simply 'enjoyed oneself ', that is to say, have a lot of pleasure.
wonderful : the pure sense of 'wonderful ' is 'moving the strongest feelings or surprise and, generally, pleasure, as something strange and great, needing more than man's natural powers. But it is very commonly used, specially by the young, for more everyday experiences, in the sense simply of 'very good '.
forget == not keep in one's memory, not keep the memory.
smashing : A schoolboy's word for 'very good '.
pleasant : We have seen this word before in the Note on its opposite 'unpleasant,' Book I, Letter 8.'
dream ==sleep experience chain of events which one seems to be watching or to be part of when one is asleep. ' Pleasant dreams ' is a short way of putting the wish ' I hope you will have pleasant dreams.'
cracking : As a verb 'crack' has the sense 'make a crack in, get cracked ', and also the sense 'make a cracking noise'. You do both when you 'crack nuts', that is, get their hard cover broken open so that you can get the inner nut out. A regular verb.
studies : This is the plural of the noun 'study', which == ' the act of learning about some branch of knowledge, getting knowledge about something from books and teachers.' Janet naturally is learning about a number of things, so we talk of her 'studies'.