Original Publication Date: 1997
Ghostwriter? Yes, Suzanne Weyn
When Mary Anne's dad lends her his credit card to do Christmas shopping (...yeah), she quickly overspends and finds herself owing her dad more money than she has available. There's a little lesson/PSA about credit card debt and interest payments. Her solution is to get a parttime job as an elf in a Santa village at the mall. In a shocking turn of events, this one job in New England that actually requires its employees to be 16, unlike where Laine and Logan work. But another girl, Angela, helps Mary Anne disguise the 13 she's already written as a 16 (not sure how...) on her job application, and the two co-workers hit it off. Fortunately (?) for Mary Anne, who wants to keep her job a secret, she has to dress in an elf costume, complete with a giant fake head. She and Angela get to know each other better, and eventually Angela reveals that she's no longer welcome in her family's home, because she won't toe the line of her upper-crust, intolerant parents. Angela is trying to raise funds to pay her way to California where she can live with her friends (Angela is 17). When her parents won't even speak to her during the holiday season, Mary Anne invites Angela to her house for Christmas, at Dawn's suggestion. She also comes clean about her secret job, but not until after the last day.
Subplot is about the BSC helping a defunct toy drive.
Established or continued in this book:
The Girls (and Logan):
Claudia candy: none mentioned
Mary Anne buys both Kristy and Abby catcher's mitts for Christmas. For those who don't know, a catcher's mitts is different from a regular baseball mitt. As far as I know, neither Kristy nor Abby are much interested in playing catcher. I hope Mary Anne at least remembered that Kristy is left-handed when she bought them.
Dawn (and Jeff) are visiting from California for Christmas, and Dawn has grown a bit distant. Not a ton, but you can tell she thinks of herself as visiting rather than at home.
A few posts ago, I mentioned that I thought Sharon shouldn't be sneaking things that Richard doesn't like into her cooking, but in this book he makes stew with beef in it for him and Mary Anne and tofu in it for Sharon. Because the meat juices won't get all over the rest of the ingredients at all.
Hunter Bruno is the only one to recognize Mary Anne in her elf costume.
Sharon loves It's a Wonderful Life. Smart woman.
The Club (and clients):
The club notebook is a spiral notebook, not a binder as I'd imagined. I wonder how many they've filled up at this point, eleven years after Kristy's Great Idea was published.
Mary Anne nearly books Stacey for a job when Stacey's not available (Stacey had forgotten as well) but catches herself just before Stacey accepts the sitting job.
SMS: nothing new.
PSA Time: nothing stood out.
The BSC is surprised at how late some people are Christmas shopping. Some Christians exchange gifts on Epiphany, which is January 6. Plus some people don't have their Christmas get-togethers until a few days after the calendar day. So even after December 25 a few people will be looking for Christmas presents.
Starting 8th grade: 10
Halloweens in 8th grade: 6 (plus one in seventh)
Thanksgivings in 8th grade: 3
Winter holidays in 8th grade (that BSC members celebrate in the plot of a book, not just reference): Christmas-4, Hanukkah-1, Kwanzaa-2
Valentine's Days in 8th grade: 3
Summers after 8th grade: 10
BSC Fights: 11
SMS Staff and Faculty: 67
Students (other than the BSC): 214: 120 8th graders (not including Amelia Freeman, who is deceased), 29 7th graders, 48 6th graders, 15 unspecified. Baby-sitters' Winter Vacation tells us that SMS has about 380 students.
Clients: 37 families
Types of candy in Claudia’s room: 134