The Best Christmas Present in the World- Question Answers

The Best Christmas Present in the World- Question Answers

Comprehension Check

1. What did the author find in a junk shop?

Ans: The author found a roll- top desk in a junk shop. This roll- top desk was made in the early nineteenth century and was made out of oak. It was in a bad condition.

2. What did he find in a secret drawer? Who do you think had put it in there?

Ans: The author found a small black tin box in the secret drawer which contained a letter. I think the owner of the roll top desk might have put it there.

3. Who had written the letter, to whom, and when?

Ans: Jim Macpherson, the Captain of the British Army had written the letter to his wife Connie on 26th December, 1914.

4. Why was the letter written — what was the wonderful thing that had happened?

Ans: The letter was written by Mr. Macpherson to his wife Connie to describe a wonderful event that took place on the day of Christmas Eve. The British Army and the German Army were at war but they celebrated Christmas together.

5. What jobs did Hans Wolf and Jim Macpherson have when they were not soldiers?

Ans: Before joining the Army, Hans Wolf played the cello in the orchestra and Jim Macpherson was a teacher.

6. Had Hans Wolf ever been to Dorset? Why did he say he knew it?

Ans: Hans Wolf had never been to Dorset. He said he knew about it as he had read about Dorset in Hardy Novel’s ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’.

7. Do you think Jim Macpherson came back from the war? How do you know this?

Ans: I think Jim Macpherson never came back from the war. I assume that Connie had preserved these letters sent by her husband.

8. Why did the author go to Bridport?

Ans: The author went to Bridport to meet Connie, the wife of Jim Macpherson to deliver the letter written by her husband.

9. How old was Mrs Macpherson now? Where was she?

Ans: Mrs. Macpherson was 101 years old and she was in a nursing home.

10. Who did Connie Macpherson think her visitor was?

Ans: Connie Macpherson thought that the visitor was her own husband.

11. Which sentence in the text shows that the visitor did not try to hide his identity?

Ans: The sentence is “you told me you’d come home by Christmas, dearest” she said, “And here you are, the best Christmas present in the world. Come closer, Jim dear, sit down”

Working with the text

1. For how long do you think Connie had kept Jim’s letter? Give reasons for your answer.

Ans: Connie had kept Jim’s letter till 25th January 1915 because the letter was dated 26th December 1914.

2. Why do you think the desk had been sold, and when?

Ans: I think the desk had been sold when Connie’s house had burnt down. This is because the table had been damaged by fire as well as water.

3. Why do Jim and Hans think that games or sports are good ways of resolving conflicts? Do you agree?

Ans: Both Jim and Hans were soldiers and had gone through a lot of suffering and trauma. Sports or games were a good way of resolving any conflict or disputes. They both preferred a peaceful resolution of disputes and I agree with them.

4. Do you think the soldiers of the two armies are like each other, or different from each other? Find evidence from the story to support your answer.

Ans: I think soldiers of two armies are like each other because ultimately they are human beings and human beings are alike in many ways. They love peace. They want to live happily in harmony. Example: “Happy Christmas, Tommy! Happy Christmas!”

5. Mention the various ways in which the British and the German soldiers become friends and find things in common at Christmas.

Ans: Both the British and German soldiers shared a common feeling of festive spirit of Christmas. They played games together and had a feast on Christmas Eve. They both hated war and were anxious to go back to their families at the end of war.

6. What is Connie’s Christmas present? Why is it “the best Christmas present in the world”?

Ans: Connie thought that the author was Jim, her husband who had come back from war. So, her husband coming back home was the best Christmas present in the world for her.

7. Do you think the title of this story is suitable for it? Can you think of any other title(s)?

Ans: I think the title of this story is the most suitable for it. This is because the Connie assumed that the author was her husband who returned from the war which made her so happy that she felt that this was the best Christmas Present in the World.

Working with language

Question 1: Look at these sentences from the story. I spotted it in a junk shop in Bridport… The man said it was made in the early nineteenth century… This one was in a bad condition… The italicised verbs are in the past tense. They tell us what happened in the past, before now.

(i) Read the passage below and underline the verb in the past tense. A man got on the train and sat down. The compartment was empty except for one lady. She took her gloves off. A few hours later the police arrested the man. They held him for 24 hours and then freed him. Answer: A man got on the train and sat down. The compartment was empty except for one lady. She took her gloves off. A few hours later the police arrested the man. They held him for 24 hours and then freed him.

Now, look at these sentences. The veneer had lifted almost everywhere. Both fire and water had taken their toll on this desk.

Notice the verb forms had lifted, had taken (their toll). The author found and bought the desk in the past. The desk was damaged before the author found it and bought it. Fire and water had damaged the desk before the author found it and bought it.

· We use verb forms like had damaged for an event in the ‘earlier past’. If there are two events in the past, we used the ‘had ….’ form for the event that occurred first in the past.

· We also use the past perfect tense to show that something was wished for or expected before a particular time in the past. For example, I had always wanted one

· Discuss with your partner the difference in meaning in the sentences below.

· When I reached the station, the train left.

· When I reached the station, the train had left.

(ii) Fill in the blanks using the correct form of the verbs in brackets.

My little sister is very naughty. When she———- (come) back from school yester­day, she had ———- (tear) her dress. We——————————————————— (ask) her how it had——– (happen). She—– (say) she——- (have, quarrel) with a boy. She———– (have, beat) him in a race and he——— (have, try) to push her. She——— (have, tell) the teacher and so he——- (have, chase) her and she———- (have, fall) down and——– (have, tear) her dress. Answer: My little sister is very naughty. When she came back from school yesterday, she had torn her dress. We asked her how it had happened. She said she had quar­relled with a boy. She had beaten him in a race and he had tried to push her. She had told the teacher and so he had chased her and she had fallen down and had torn her dress.

(iii)Underline the verbs and arrange them in two columns, Past and Earlier

(a) My friends set out to see the caves in the next town, but I stayed at home, because I had seen them already. (b) When they arrived at the station, their train had left. They came back home, but by that time I had gone out to see a movie! (c) So they sat outside and ate the lunch I had packed for them. (d) By the time I returned, they had fallen asleep!

Question 2: Dictionary Work By the end of the journey, we had run out of drinking water. Look at the verb run out of in this sentence. It is a phrasal verb: it has two parts, a verb and a preposition or an adverb. Phrasal verbs often have meanings that are different from the meanings of their parts.

Write down the sentences in which they occur. Consult a dictionary and write down the meaning that you think matches the meaning of the phrasal verb in the sentence. Answer:

· “House number 12 turned out to be nothing but a burned-out shell …………….. (destroyed by fire).

· That was the moment her eyes lit up with recognition, and her face……………… (brightened).

· Hans Wolf and I looked on and cheered, clapping our hand……… : (considered somebody to be somebody)

· The time came, and all too soon when the game was finished, the schnapps and the run and the sausage had long since run out, and we knew it was all over, (become used up, finished)

· Hans Wolf and I looked on and cheered clapping our hands and stamping our feet, to keep out the cold as much as anything, (to avoid)

Question 3: Noun Phrase Read the following sentence. I took out a small black tin box.

· The phrase in italics is a noun phrase.

· It has the noun—box—as the headword, and three adjectives preceding it.

· Notice the order in which the adjectives occur—size (small), colour (black), and material (tin) of which it is made.

We rarely use more than four adjectives before a noun and there is no rigid order in which they are used, though there is a preferred order of modifiers/adjectives in a noun phrase, as given below.

Question 4: The table below contains a list of nouns and some adjectives. Use as many adjectives as you can to describe each noun. You might come up with some funny descriptions!


1. elephant—enormous, striped, wild

2. face—cheerful, round, chubby

3. building—circular, large, multicoloured

4. water—blue, cold.


Question 1: In groups discuss whether wars are a good way to end conflicts between countries. Then present your arguments to the whole class. Answer: War means bloodshed, hate and destruction. It shows the animalism in man. Even the animals fight for some sound reason. But nations go to war to settle some petty dispute or in the name of religion. War solves no problem. Understanding alone can end differences. All religions condemn greed and bloody quarrels. Let us learn this great lesson from history.

Question 2: What kind of presents do you like and why? What are the things you keep in mind when you buy presents for others? Discuss with your partner. (For ex­ample, you might buy a book because it can be read and re-read over a period of time.) Answer: Personally I am against the practice of exchanging expensive gifts. A rose or a token of affection suits every person and every pocket. This is why some guests offer bouquets or greeting cards alone. In case the gift is essential, it should satisfy some need and1 have utility. When I go to buy a present, I first take into account the liking of my classmate, relative or girl/boyfriend.


Question 1: Imagine that you are Jim. You have returned to your town after the war. In your diary record how you feel about the changes you see and the events that occur in your town. You could begin like this 25 December, 1919 It’s Christmas today, but the town looks…..


Suppose you are the visitor. You are in a dilemma. You don’t know whether to disclose your identity and disappoint the old lady or let her believe that her dear Jim has come back. Write a letter to a friend highlighting your anxiety, fears and feelings. Answer: 25 December, 1919 It’s Christmas today, but the town looks very much different from what I had imagined. It has been ravaged by war. Buildings are in ruins and there is graveyard silence. My own house burnt when it was hit by a bombardment. The events of war have taken a toll of civilians as well as soldiers. I hate the fighting instinct in us and curse the war makers (monger). Can’t we live in peace like brothers?


Answer: 12-A, Block 4, Dorset August 10, 2009 Dear Smith, I am in a dilemma. It seems to be insolvable. I, therefore, seek your help in making a decision. You know I had purchased an old desk. Inside it I got a box containing an old letter. It was written by Jim, a British soldier, to his wife. I decided to deliver that letter to Mrs. Jim at Bridport. I reached her house. She was 101 years old. When I gave her the letter, her eyes lit up. She thought I was her long lost husband Jim, who had come home to keep his promise. She was excited and she kissed me. She didn’t listen to what I tried to tell her about my identity. I don’t know whether or not I should tell who I am. I only walked away from her quickly.

Question 2: Given below is the outline of a story. Construct the story using the outline. A young, newly married doctor———- freedom fighter——– exited to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands by the British————– infamous cellular Jail———— prisoners tortured ——- revolt by inmates——— doctor hanged———- wife waits for his return —– becomes old——– continues to wait with hope and faith. Answer: It was the year 1930. India was a British colony. But English education enlightened a section of people. They started fighting for freedom. A young, newly- married doctor was implicated in a conspiracy case. He was sent to Black Waters (Kalapani) It was a group of Islands in the Bay of Bengal. Many freedom fighters and revolutionaries were sent there for life. They were put in cellular Jail for a few years. They were subjected to torture. The doctor was hanged. But his wife kept waiting for the return of her husband. She grew old. However, her hope and faith did not fade.

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