As a huge fan of the Frog and Toad series, I have read all the books with two of my kids (so far). On the most recent reading of Frog and Toad All Year, I noticed something odd about the last story which is a heart-warming Christmas story. It is obvious that the author, Arnold Lobel, has never experienced Christmas, even though he tries hard to fake it.
Here is the story, Christmas Eve, and how it screams “Arnold Lobel is a Jew”.
The opening line: “On Christmas Eve Toad cooked a big dinner.”
Yes, Toad is expecting Frog for a big dinner he cooked and plans to serve on Christmas Eve. Arnold, even though Jewish holidays start the night before, with a big meal (of course) and even though the day before Christmas is called Christmas Eve, Christmas dinner is actually eaten on Christmas DAY. Also note the focus on the food. It gets the opening line.
Next Toad is worried because Frog is late. Not a little worried, no, kind of more like totally panicked.
“I am worried,” said Toad. “What if something terrible has happened?” said Toad.“What if Frog had fallen into a deep hole and cannot get out? I will never see him again!”…“What if Frog is lost in the woods?” … “What if he is cold and wet and hungry?” …“What if Frog is being chased by a big animal with many sharp teeth? What if he is being eaten up?” cried Toad. “My friend and I will never have another Christmas together!”
Sounds like some is late for the seder here. This reminds me strongly of when my husband and I were late coming to my mother-in-law’s house because we were shovelling out our car at the airport. She was sure our plane had crashed.
Toad creates a a whole plan and sets out to rescue Frog from certain doom. On his way he meets Frog who is late because he was wrapping Toad’s present. Toad admonishes Frog : “You are not at the bottom of a hole? …You are not lost in the woods?…You are not being eaten by a big animal?”
Nothing like a huge guilt trip to say I am glad to see you! Why didn’t you call, Frog! Toad was worried sick!
Then Toad opens Frog’s present.
On Chrismas EVE. Ever heard of Christmas morning, running down to the tree to open your gifts? Not Arnold Lobel.
The story ends: The two friends sat by the fire. The hands of the clock moved to show the hours of a merry Christmas Eve.
They are not doing anything else like listening to music or something because that is forbidden by tradition (or not!).
Also Frog and Toad do not hang stockings, leave cookies for Santa, wonder if Santa can find them, look for reindeer, make a list for Santa*, go to church or roast chestnuts.
The final illustration has Frog and Toad sitting by the fire. On the mantle there are no stockings or candy canes. But there are two lit candles, winking at us.