What events happen in Chapter 31 of Maniac Magee?
Maniac and Grayson celebrate a happy Christmas together, and five days later, Grayson dies.
In this chapter, Maniac is living in the band shell equipment room with Grayson, the elderly zoo groundskeeper. Maniac and Grayson wake up early Christmas morning and go out. They visit their tree and the zoo animals. Maniac even gives the buffalo presents. It is magical because there is snow on the ground.
When they return, they exchange presents. Each of them gives the other things of great personal meaning. The gifts are not expensive store-bought presents, but gifts of sentimental value.
Maniac has been teaching Grayson how to read. He made him a book for Christmas.
As in all happy Christmas homes, the gifts were under the tree. Maniac gave Grayson a pair of gloves and a woolen cap and a book. The book did not appear to be as sturdy as the others lying around. The cover was blue construction paper, and the spine, instead of being bound, was stapled. (Ch. 31)
Grayson gives Maniac his old glove, in addition to a brand new baseball. Maniac is very touched. He knows that Grayson used to be a baseball player, and giving Maniac the glove means a lot to him. The glove is something he values that he can pass on to Maniac.
The boy could not take his eyes off the glove. The old man could not take his eyes off the boy. The record player finished the "Christmas Polka" and clicked off, and for a long time there was silence. (Ch. 31)
It is a good thing that the two of them get to have this meaningful Christmas, because it will be their last one. Five days after Christmas, we learn, Grayson is dead. This is obviously quite unexpected. We learn in the next chapter that he just does not wake up one morning.