Boxing Day At Baker Street
I take real pride in calling myself a true Sherlockian. And when writing this Christmas Sherlock fanfic, I studied how Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote John Watson’s writing about his and Holmes’ adventures. I have done my best to replicate this and stay TRUE to the characters as Doyle wrote them. I hope you enjoy this light hearted story! 💛
In all my days of knowing Sherlock Holmes, I have perceived many things. His need for order in all things is both his strength and his weakness (though he would never willingly acknowledge the fault.) His calculating and organized mind is at all times active.
Like a high speed mechanical device, the many cogs and gears are always turning, keeping the machine alive and working. I, who have been his companion for many a year, often have the opportunity to observe this thinking rotary. Holmes himself calls his brain “an attic” in which he keeps “the tools which may help him in doing his work” and “all in the most perfect order.” However, in my small observations, his brain, which he takes such pride in, has never been so.
As I have said to Holmes many times before, a mortal man cannot rightly decide what he is and is not to know. “It’s not our place,” I say. Yet Holmes chooses to forgo my words and might comment that he is no “mortal man.”
And on another and more prevalent note, Holme’s mind is anything other than “perfect order.” He values order, yes, and does his best to keep it. But, as is our modern society, order cannot always be kept. And when the inevitability of disorder comes knocking on the door of 221B Baker Street, the place where Holmes and I reside, the former is nothing short of unnerved (I here add “in the best sense of the word” in respect for my friend’s pride.)
Christmas time at Baker Street was a jolly one for those of us who participated. Mrs. Hudson, the landlady of Baker Street, made a roast beef to put Her Majesty’s cooks to shame. The honorable lady (Mrs. Hudson that is, not The Queen) also accompanied me to place a tasteful bouquet on the grave of my late wife, Mary.
All the while, however, Holmes remained in the rooms we shared.
“It is unadulterated foolishness, Watson,” Holmes told me, “To celebrate nothing.”
“Nothing?” I exclaimed. “By Jove, Holmes, Christmas is far from celebrating nothing! Christmas is for the human ability of joy and co-existence. The birth of Christ for His sake!
He raised a sharp eyebrow as a bemused smile began to play on his lips. “As I sad, nothing.”
I was aware of Holmes’ frankly blasphemous thoughts on religion, particularly the one I and the whole of modern England shared. I opened my mouth to defend either the holiday, Christianity, or myself (I had not then decided which) but Holmes spoke before I could. He was rather good at that.
“You are a Christian, Watson, are you not? Then as a Christian attempting to acknowledge this manufactured holiday known as Christmas, you are indeed celebrating nothing. In those days when pagans were the majority, did they not too deck their houses with the evergreen botanicals, such as holly and ivy? I believe these were to keep away the imagined ‘evil spirits.’ And you tell me you do as they did in the name of God? Show me the logic behind this, for I am quite certain that there is none. I do not say I will join in these festivities of religion in which no physical evidence has been produced, for I am no man of faith, but if you feel the need to justify your standing of a Christian who celebrates a pagan Christmas, by all means attempt to prove me wrong.”
I did not retaliate in anger, as many other God fearing Englishmen would have if spoken to by the offensive and disagreeable man before me. I did not roll my eyes, I did not steal a breath, I did not steady my nerves.
Rather than showing these signs of irritation, I chose to laugh.
Holmes was thoroughly taken aback by my reaction. His head turned sideways slightly and his eyes seemed to take in every feature of my face, pondering the meaning behind my jovial attitude. I recognized the signs of confusion that I often saw when I assisted him in his works of detection and deduction.
“Why, Holmes,” I said merrily, “You forget that you have told me the exact same speech every year since I first came to Baker Street! My good man, show me the logic in that.”
“If I have made such an error, which I doubt, it is only because I do not find the memories priority.”
“Or it is because you dislike what I have to say next.”
“And pray tell me what that should be?”
“The same speech in which I have responded, and perfected, I might take the liberty of adding, to your pessimistic diatribe every year in this season.”
I paused and then continued, “It is true that the traditions of Christmas are rooted in less than holy places. I know the history that you have taken the time to explain to me so thoroughly. But allow me to give you a lesson now. Tradition and religion…these are man made and often times artifice. However, even you acknowledge the beauty that God has bestowed upon mankind. I recall you once said to me that “our highest assurance of the goodness of Providence seems to rest in the flowers” and that “it is only goodness which gives extras, and that we have much to hope.” You know there is some higher power, Holmes, do not deny it. And you know that in this world of chaos and ill will there are still those who sew and reap good and praiseworthy values. Mankind is a folly kind, indeed. But on this day, we might folly in a better sort. We might extend a hand to those less fortunate than ourselves and gift that which our very flawed and human hearts lead us to give. There are aspects of beauty in that, no? Why there is even logic enough for you in these things! Now, I’ll allow you to display if you have changed at all in the past year, since the last time I gave you this same lecture. A single remark will do, Holmes. Not one? I thought not. Happy Christmas, good friend.”
And turning away to spare Holmes the slight humiliation of me seeing him at a loss at how to counter, I walked from the room.
I shall leave him a Boxing Day present by his door tomorrow, I thought with an amused smile in my head.
That night, Mrs. Hudson, myself, and the Misses Hawkins and Hooper, two respectable ladies who shared the flat opposite 221 B, sat in the parlor playing a round of Whist. Miss Hawkins headed the conversation the majority of the time, commenting every so often on the number of Penny Posts she had received from young and eligible men. This was endurable, but only just.
Mrs. Hudson and Miss Hooper were much more versed in polite conversation and the evening had been modestly enjoyable. Though it occurred to me how much more lively the evening might have been had my friend Holmes been there with his uncivil tongue and unpopular ideals. I managed to turn my snigger at the thought into a small cough.
My mind must have somehow summoned him, because just after the idea had crossed my mind, the devil came through the sitting-room door.
“My cap, Watson!” He cried, dashing about this way and that.
“Holmes!” I declared. “Come, sit and join us!”
The three other ladies nodded in agreement with me and invited him to the table in their soft, feminine voices.
Holmes did not seem to hear us. “My cap, it is here somewhere. Watson, find my cap!”
“Why do you need your deerstalker, fellow? Are you going out?”
“Man, it is freezing outside!”
“That statement would conclude as to why I need my cap! Aha!” He exclaimed with a laugh as he ducked under the table where we had been playing our card game (making the ladies present cry out in surprise.) He came out as soon as he had gone under, however, and brandished his deerstalker cap with a flourish. “Success!”
He looked at me and at the company I kept, seeing them for the first time. “Ah, people.”
And with that last statement, he left the room quicker than one could utter “Elementary.”
I apologized for his conduct as I often found myself doing. Mrs. Hudson, who knew Holmes almost as well as I, excused my apology with a smile. Miss Hawkins however asked, “You don’t suppose he’s going caroling?”
I quickly excuse myself from the room as to hide my laughter at the mental image of Sherlock Holmes singing “Oh Come All Ye Faithful.”
I had no plans for Boxing Day. After whatever exertions I had taken on Christmas Day, I often found myself staying inside on the holiday, reading the Strand and enjoying multiple cups of tea. Holmes, whom I had seen the previous night leave the flat with such flurry, had not made an appearance to me since then. And that was most strange seeing as he did so like to torment me on the pointlessness of Boxing Day.
Last year I had participated in the work of the church in making poor boxes. Mrs. Hudson volunteered her time annually and I thought I might do the same. Holmes immensely enjoyed quoting one of Dickens’ rude misers whenever entering my presence.
Reflecting on this, it was strange that he was not in my view. Had he rushed off on a case? This was uncharacteristic seeing as he wanted for my assistance whether or not I was inconvenienced or not. More often the former than the latter.
I tried to pay the matter little heed. Holmes was as unpredictable as the criminal classes he worked against.
I spent the hours reading a title which turned out to be easily forgotten and in a few episodes of polite conversation. I was just about to think about luncheon when I heard the front door’s knocker alert me to the presence of a visitor.
Curious to see if Holmes had spent the whole night away from Baker Street, I opened the door expecting to see the detective. Alas I was mistaken…though not so very much.
A different genius child stood at the doorstep. I recognized the boy as Wiggins, a street urchin who was occasionally employed by Holmes.
He must be here for work, I thought when contemplating the boy’s motives.
“Is Mister Holmes here, sir?” Wiggins asked, pulling off his wool flat cap and smiling in a way I had not been accustomed to associate with him.
“No…leastwise, I don’t believe he is.”
“I just wanted to thank him again, sir.” The boy said, excited.
“Thank him?” I inquired. “Whatever for, lad?”
“For the oranges and half crowns, sir! My family will feast today! Give him my thanks, please, sir?” And in his energetic state, he ran onto the street, kicking up snow as he went and whistling a Christmas tune.
I stood for a moment, looking down at the place Wiggins had been only moment ago. Then amused realization began to slowly creep up my person.
Sherlock Holmes…giving gifts to homeless children on Boxing Day? Had my yearly tirade finally made an impression?
I deduced that Holmes must have been out all night finding the members of his so-called “Baker Street Irregulars” and gifting them with oranges and half crowns. And the reason I had not seen him this morning was consequence of his late evening endeavors. Might he be asleep in his rooms? Or was he still out tracking down those lesser fortunate than himself?
I recalled him saying to me in the case of the Mazarin Stone, “I am a brain, Watson. The rest of me is a mere appendix.”
Maybe so, Holmes, old friend, I thought, shutting the door against the chilly holiday air, But a heart is in there somewhere as well.
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