Even though Precious Jeopardy is a beautiful Christmas story, I wanted to read it one last time before I gave it away, as a gift, to a special friend.
This story takes place during the worst years of the Great Depression. It is about a businessman considering suicide around Christmas time and his personal regeneration. I have enjoyed reading this book, over the years at Christmas time, as it has made me think more intently about my life, objectives, and choices–as well as–the value of life and the lives of those around me.
Since this book is no longer in print, you may read a brief overview of the story here.
Quotes cited from “Precious Jeopardy” follow this format: (Chapter.Page Number.Paragraph)
1. All the little endearments–the pat on her shoulder, the tips of his fingers swept lightly across her cheek as they passed at close quarters in the hallway, the furtive pantomime of a kiss across the breakfast-table accompanied by a dreamily reminiscent look that speeded the heart a little and made one glance at the children out of the tail of one’s eye hoping to find them busy with their porridge–all these cherished moments were as irrecoverable as if they had never been. ∼ Lloyd C. Douglas–The Author (1.11.1)
Comment: Oh the sweet memories that are lost and forgotten… Another reason to take advantage of each moment and live life to the fullest at every turn!
2. Searching himself, he became aware that this sullen apathy had become an established habit. He had been treating his wife coldly for months, as if his defeat and chagrin were somehow her fault. ∼ Lloyd C. Douglas–The Author (2.19,20.4)
Comment: How many times I have blamed my wife for my shortcomings and frustrations over the years?
How Do You Like Living
3. His senses seemed abnormally keen. It was a great thing to be alive. The bare fact of living had never struck him with such vividness. Might it not be possible, he reasoned, that jeopardy sharpens the wits? It was said to be true of the drowning… Perhaps Nature had intended that any hazard of life should carry some high compensation, as if She said, ‘Here’s a pleasant medicine for your worry, who only think you have been alive… How do you like living–really living?… Want to go back now?’ ∼ Lloyd C. Douglas–The Author (2.27,28.2)
Comment: I have experienced this “living” a few times in my life though it wasn’t related to a life or death circumstance, due to spiritual awakenings.
Residing in the Present
4. Of course, this was no brand new idea–the importance of the present hour. As a precept, it headed the list of the ancient platitudes. Everybody accepted it as an axiom, but whoever acted as if he believed it was scorned as an opportunist, living from hand to mouth like a monkey. ∼ Lloyd C. Douglas–The Author (3.36.4)
Comment: Yet it is residing “in” the moment, with gratitude in your heart for what you have, that is one of the keys to true happiness and contentment.
5. On impulse, Phil was about to confide. Then it occurred to him that not a soul in the world–not even Shirley–shared his peculiar secret. It had in it the elements of tragedy, but it had made his life strangely luminous. He felt the need of nobody’s pity; knew he would be a hypocrite if he accepted it, and would probably be thought a poseur if he rejected it. He suddenly resolved that it should be his own affair. The decision squared his shoulders. ∼ Lloyd C. Douglas–The Author (3.39.1)
Comment: I like the use of the French word poseur which meansa
The Diary of John Evelyn
6. “I suppose you never bothered to read The Diary of John Evelyn. “What makes you suppose that?” drawled Phil, with an amiable impudence which he suspected his eccentric employer might relish. “–Because I’m a snow-shoveler? Or because I’m not a very good one?” ∼ Mr. Percival and Phil (3.19,20.4)
Comment: The Diary of John Evelyn is (1620-1706) is a primary source for life and lifestyles in England during the 1600’s.
7. Phil had not quite fully understood her singular solicitude in regard to himself since their residence at ‘Idle Acres.’ As a wife, she had never been so completely his mate. But there were momentary flashes of another relationship in which she held him–something almost maternal, brooding, protective. ∼ Lloyd C. Douglas–The Author (4.55.2)
Comment: The first time I read this book, some years ago, I made a prediction that the wife knew of Phil’s secret… just saying!
8. About four, a prodigious, unabashed yawn certified that the ancient raconteur needed some exercise, and Phil invited him to come up to the attic on an unexplained errand, leaving the children devastated with curiosity. ∼ Lloyd C. Douglas–The Author (4.59.1)
Comment: What rich and well-written text!
9. He did not add–though he was tempted to do so–that each day’s work had been performed with the consciousness of its probable finality. It was doubtful, reflected Phil, whether he would have been able to create this bit of artistry in any other state of mind. Aware, as he worked, that he might never be permitted to complete the whole of it, he had crafted each part as if it were the end and aim of his endeavor. ∼Lloyd C. Douglas–The Author (4.60,61.6)
Comment: The question, “How to incorporate this attitude into work and everyday endeavors?”
The Small Things in Life
10. “But I think very highly of it, Phil. Don’t you know that it changed everything for us, so that nothing will ever be quite the same again? It was this needle, dear, that saved our home–and our love.” ∼ Shirley (4.62.9)
Comment: How important the small things and experiences are in our lives… things that we more often than not overlook or ignore.