OCR Interpretation


St. Paul daily globe. (Saint Paul, Minn.) 1884-1896, December 24, 1893, Christmas Supplement, Image 20

Image and text provided by Minnesota Historical Society; Saint Paul, MN

Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn90059522/1893-12-24/ed-1/seq-20/

What is OCR?


Thumbnail for

EMMAS 1
i ii fine use.
How It Has Been Celebrated There
Daring' More Than Ninety Years.
Joyous Days When Beautiful Dolly Madison.
j Lovely Mrs. Donelson and Regal Harriet Were
[ Successively First Lady of the Land—
i Christmas Was Observed by the Families of
F Johnson, Grant and Hayes.
r^Jhe celebration of Christmas as a social festi
val is of comparatively recent date in this
' country and it was many years after the first
Occupancy of the White House, by President
John Adams— before the day became an
important one as a holiday. The sentiments of
the forefathers were decidedly hostile to the
elaborate religious ceremonials of the Roman
Catholic Church, and to emphasize this disap
proval the Puritans observed Christmas as a
legal holiday merely.
By degrees the anniversary of the Saviour's
birth became a social institution and the great
home festival of the year. But, it was not un
til full half a century after the occupation of
the White House as the President's home that
Christmas was generally observed in this
country as it had been for a great while in
Germany. ■_
To the Germans the Christmas anniversary is
the most memorable epoch in the history of the
year, and i: is to them that all Christendom is
indebted for the idea of the Christmas tree
with its wax lights, its sweetmeats and gay
decorations.
| Mrs. Adams, who was the first Lady of the
White House, moving into it in ISOO, the last
year of her husband's administration, made no
Observance of the day: the Executive Mansion,
as it was then called, not being finished, and
the quiet habits of the family making it of no
importance to them. But one Christmas did
they spend in the White House, and it was a
day of rest and quiet for both Mrs. Adams and
the President. *>
During the administration of the third Presi
dent, who was a widower, Christmas had little
Or no observance except on two occasions, the
first being in the winter of 180*2-3, when for the
first and only time, both Mr. Jefferson's chil- i
dren, Mrs. Epps and Sirs. Randolph with their
children, spent the season with him. His sons
in-law came up from their Virginia plantations
to spend the holidays and the appearance of a
large piece of venison and wild ducks, on the
dinner table recalled to the family a faithful
Servant who had brought these and other
favorite dishes of his master to Washington for
the Christmas feast. The youngest daughter
was dead before another Christmas time, and ;
the mid-winter reunion was held atMonticello, !
from whence the President returned to Wash
ington in time for the New Year reception. '
Mrs. Randolph, Jefferson's eldest and only
daughter, spent the season of 1805 6 in the ;
White House and her gift to her husband was j
6 son, the first child born there. He was named ,
for the President's old friend and neighbor, i
Secretary James Madison. At the Christmas j
dinner Mrs. Madison presided, and six of Mrs. j
Randolph's children were at the table. A di- I
minutive cranberry tart was placed at each j
Child's plate at dessert, and as this was a new j
article to the little Virginians, one of them >
never forgot the circumstance. This one. then j
ft girl cf twelve years, the late Mrs. Virginia i
Randolph first told to me. within three years of
her death, that Mrs. Madison took four of the ;
girls to ride after dinner and to her house for a
good time in the evening, something they could :
not have had in the President's house. They ;
rode back to Washington over the old George- i
town road and en the way passed a colored man :
who had some boughs of mistletoe. These Mrs. I
Madison bought of him, and the carriage was j
decked with the greens as they passed through i
the streets to her house. Soon after their ar
rival a gay party of young people assembled j
and after games and dancing, the happy hostess
led her guests to the dining room, where there !
was a beautiful table to greet them. Frosted
cakes were everywhere, and candies in such i
quantities that the children were wild with de- j
light, "It was just like Mrs. Madison," said
Mrs. Trist, ' 'for she was a veritable Santa Claus I
to everybody." For sixteen years Mrs. Madison
was the " Lady of the White House," in an of
ficial sense, for she was at President Jefferson's
Side at all public receptions, state dinners and i
Other .public occasions. There was one excep
tion. The war of 1812 which resulted in the
partial destruction of Washington by the
, British, left the people generally in no mind to
think of Merry Christmas The White House
bad been greatly damaged by fire, the Presi
dent and Mrs. Madison were living in a rented
bouse on Pennsylvania Avenue, (at the corner of
Nineteenth Street) where they were not pre- ;
pared to entertain, even had it been their wish.
Mrs. Monroe, who succeeded Mrs. Madison as
hostess of the White House, was not given to
entertaining on the scale of her predecessor.
Mrs. Madison had set the fashion of sociability
on Christmas, and it had become the great
"dinner day,'' in Washington as it was in
Virginia and throughout the South generally.
Mrs Monroe was a New Yorker, and her ideas
Of etiquette were different from those of " Dolly"
Madison. She observed all the forms and cere
monies of her station, and acquitted herself
well, but she was not a robust person and much
Of the social obligations of her position she rele
gated to her daughters. Mrs. John Quincy
Adams was a Southern (Maryland) woman, who
had teen reared in England, and she made
Christmas a home day, gathering her family
about her. and observing the occasion as a holi
day which belonged to the household and not
to the public. She gave no entertainments on
Christinas, and Mr. Adams and her children
were her companions exclusively on that day.
The famiiy was a most cultivated and refined
one, but lacking in sociability of the kind that
Washingtonians liked, and the majority of the
latter rejoiced when President Jackson's ad
ministration gave promise of more informal
hospitality. Mrs. Donelson, the President's
niece (her husband was private secretary), had
four young children in the White House, and
Mrs Madison was one of her constant friends,
hence there was much expected of a social char
acter from the new administration. Mrs.
Donelson was a popular hostess and the Presi
dent was a generous host, but he was also a
most domestic man, and his chief pleasure was
in private family gatherings. A Nashville
friend, who enjoyed his hospitality on Christ
mas day, 1529. wrote home that " the President
- was more absorbed in the children of his niece,
and of his adopted son, .Andrew Jackson, Jr.,
. than he was in politics, and his chief enjoyment
was in seeing the youngsters regale themselves
at the table." At the conclusion or the meal this
guest was invited— he says " to the family sit
ting room where the ladies and the children
kept things lively. The President sat in his
corner at the fireside smoking his pipe, in a
complacent, contented way, and paid little or
no attention to the grown-up people about him."
Christmas day. 1331, fell on Sunday, and the
day was spent quietly, in preparation for the
levee which Mrs. Donelson was to hold on the
following afternoon for ladies.
-> From Jackson's time to Tyler's, there were
no festivities at Christmas time, for there were
no children there. With the advent of the
Tyler family, the Virginian idea of Christmas
celebration came back and the day's duties be
gan with the preparation of a great bowl of egg
nogg. Then presents were distributed, the ser
vants one and all, being specially remembered.
A midday dinner and a family gathering, fol
lowed by a quiet evening, was the custom. The
latter was almost compulsory, for it was con
sidered a duty to the colored servants that they
Should have a holiday after the dinner hour.
General Taylor's family spent one Christmas
only in the .White House, and a newspaper par
agrapher of that day (possibly a disappointed
oflico seeker) wrote that "old Zack and his
wife celebrated the day with a big dinner and
a grand pipe smoke afterward, retiring at early
candle fight." Mrs. Taylor's known preference
for army life, and her dislike of the formalities
of the President's house, caused much injustice
to be done her, and fortunate it was that her
daughter, Mrs. Bliss, familiarly known as
Betty Taylor, was with her to relieve her of the
official duties devolving upon a President's
wife.
The Fillmore family, like the Pierce amily.
paid little attention to Christmas. Society gen
erally regretted the indifference of these presi
dential households to social duties, and it was
with undisguised delight that Washington
ians saw Buchanan reign begin. The pres
ence of a beautiful young lady in the White
House was hailed as a promise of gayety, for
the people of Washington and of the country
j generally desired .to have more "pretentious
j doings and goings on in the President's House."
Miss Harriet Lane, was the belle of the Nation
I when she entered upon her duties as hostess,
' and much of the President's social prestige was ,
| due to her popularity. She really graced the posi
j tion she held, and up to her day there had been
! but one woman who could be compared to her
| in social distinction: this wa3 Mrs. Madison,
and the younger woman was her superior in ail
i respects, excepting experience. Miss Lane had
I presided over her uncle's house in London,
| while he resided there as minister to England,
, and was not only equipped for society leader
; ship, but was exceedingly fond of society. Every
j day was a festival one in her calendar, and
j beautiful were the entertainments given by
j her. During her stay at the White House, the
I Prince of Wales was the guest of the Nation,
: and his visit which was greatly enjoyed by
. him, added still more eclat to her fame as the
i Lady of the White House. She was the recipi
i ent of more Christmas presents, and the belie
j of more Christmas dances than any woman of
| her day, and Christmas was kept with all honor
! in the White House while she lived there.
; Christmas was not a gala day during the ad
; ministration of President Lincoln. The scene
had changed and the great drama of war was
: being enacted throughout the land. There
: were no fetes, no parties, and no dinners, but
r the three children of Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln kept
, the festival, and the White House was full of
! toys and drums, from "Santa Claus" land.
; After the death of "Willie," the two remaining
' sons kept the Christmas festival, but in a quiet
way, saddened by the sorrow of their parents,
1 and the absence of their beloved brother.
Children and Christmas seem synonymous
'. terms, and there has been no family in the
■ White House who glorified this anniversary
i who were without children. Grown up people
; content themselves with present making and
i dinner giving, but children demand more for
: their Christmas, and ti'._y have always im
• parted special importance to Christmas; not
! only in the White House, but in every house.
! President Johnson had six grandchildren, who
i knew Santa Claus familiarly well, and
I Christmas trees and Christmas joys were
i known in the stately old mansion during his
\ term. The children had parties and they were
the most important element of the household
; at each recurring Christmas time. The observ-
I ance of the day was wholly for their benefit,
; and thus it came to pass that it was always a
i delightful occasion. The little creature who
i made it memorable to all her young friends in
| Washington was Belle Patterson, the Presi
dent's favorite grandchild, and the most gifted
of his descendants.
The Grant administration followed, and the
prestige of his military reputation and the
[ great wealth that was represented in Washing
ton at that era combined to make all White
House festivals celebrated. The Christmas
trees in the East room were objects worthy the
pen of the historians who described them, and
gifts, representing thousands of dollars always
lay beneath them.
President and Mrs. Hayes, with their house
full of children made Christmas reunions de
lightful. They were sociable but not fashion
able people, and their method of keeping Christ
i mas was according to the home-loving ideas of
the West,
Sirs. Hayes was said to have been the happi-
I est woman who ever lived in the White House,
and people who are happy the year round are
I apt to ignore special occasions for trying to be
' so.
a- Neither of the successors of President Hayes
: had opportunity to make Christmas festivals.
The early death of President Garfield and the
! quiet habits of his successor, abolished for a
; time Christmas from the White House cal
i endar.
President Cleveland, up to the time of his
| marriage gave no attention to Christmas, but
j after that happy event the festival day was
j kept with hearty rejoicings.
President Harrison was pre-eminently a
I family man. and his grandchildren found him
! to be a perpetual Santa Claus. Sirs. Harri
• son was a strict observer of ail family festivals
l and every Christmas was observed. Her death
! saddened the last Christmas spent by the
j family in the White House, and it was unnoted.
This year the day will be celebrated by Presi
| dent Cleveland and his wife in Washington.
| surrounded by friends, and their little children,
j one of whom is old enough to appreciate Santa
i Claus and his mission to her, at least. Christ
| mas is not a time for public rejoicing; rather
i 3 it the occasion when families wish to be re-
I united, and when broken households desire to
I be alone and separate. Christmas in the White
! House is shorn of much of its glory, by reason
j of the fact that the greater holiday and the
official one is New Years. Then it is that the
public of Washington rejoice, for it is the one
day in the year when they can go to the White
House and shake the President's hands to their
heart's content. No official or social event
equals it in importance, and hence it oversha
dows Christmas at the National CapitoL
Laura Holloway Laxgford.
THE LEGEND OE THE STOCKING.
The steeples were ringing all over the town.
The feathery snow flakes were fast coming
down:
And over the hill 3 with the wind as it sped,
Kris Kringle cut by with his reindeers and
sled.
All heaped on with spangles and trinkets and
toys
To leave in the night for the girls and the
boys.
The stockings were hung at the foot of the bed.
The wishes were made and the prayers were
all said: -
And two little long-gowned and bare-footed
tots
Kissed their mother goodnight and crept into
their cots: •- <* .'■■ ■
To dream and to wonder what sights they
should see.
When they opened their eyes on the evergreen
tree. _-
All nieht fairy torches bestrewed that stilled
room.
With fancies as light as the dream of the loom:
And when all was finished, amid that gay
scene, ~ *
Love planted a garlanded pyramid green:
And decked it with trinkets and candles of fire,
And over it all shone a star at its spire.
Next morning as soon as they opened their
eyes.
In each eager face beamed the joy of surprise:
As they burst out of bed with that bright wake
of smiles.
Whose beauty ee'n yet all life's troubles be
guiles;
To tell with its mute ineffaceable mirth
What that story of Santa Claus really was
worth.,
Ah! where is the croaker who says. " 'tis a lie,"
Better let that old story of Santa Claus die:
Christ comes to the children of want as of
wealth.
As Santa Claus comes down the chimney by
stealth. J
And whatever tlie gifts that on earth we most
prize,
There is never a gift, but it comes by surprise.
'Mtttt-t? HAGE3IAIT.
CHRISTMAS SUPPLEMENT.
A FAT POCKET-BOOK MAKES A MERRY CHRISTMAS.
■MAS DAY
. I ft BEY.
How It "Was Observed at Plymouth and
at Hew Amsterdam.
The Puritans Frowned Upon It ; With the Jovial
Dutchmen it Was a Season of Thanksgiving
and Good Cheer— the World's Greatest
Festival Gradually Won Its Way in American
Hearts— Some Notable Events Ke-called.
The first Christmases of the pioneer white
settlers in America maybe said to have passed
unrecognized and uncelebrated. So sad was the
fate of the Virginia colonists sent out by Raleigh
in 1584-S7, that their disappearance was never
explained. The experiment of 1607 was a
failure, and it was not until about 1610, after
repeated misadventures of the same sort, and
after a permanent settlement of English-speak
ing colonists had been established, that the
holiday was marked even by the most informal
celebration on the part of a few scattered
families in Jamestown. Of the event itself, no
record exists beyond the bare mention.
It was in tho bleak December of IG2O that the
Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth. It lacked but a
few days of Christmas. They had skirted the
desolate and savage coast and now*, safely an
chored inside of Clark's Island, they determined
to establish their settlement on the mainland.
Several days were spent in choosing timber for
building, and on Christmas day, as Bradford
relates: '* We began to erect the first house for
common use, to receive them and their goods."
" We went on shore," adds another Pilgrim-his
torian, " some to fell timber, some to saw, some
to rive and some to carry, so no man rested that
day." All over the Christian world, the sacred
day was being observed, save by the Puritans in
England and on these shores of ours. A single
gleam of brightness is cast athwart this first
sombre Christmas of the Pilgrims by one of their
number ,who afterwards told how, after a day of
heavy labor during which the men-folk had been
" drinkinge water aboard, .the ship) at night the
Master caused us to have some beere." Jolly
old soul, that Master of the crow! Thafbeere"
which his steward tapped i 3 historic, although
even the mugs and the barrel have long since
disappeared. Puritanism, with all its grim,
unbending austerity, was unable to utterly
crush out recognition of the universal holiday.
Next year, in spite of the stern faces of the
elders, the Christmas spirit was even more pro
nounced. The Fortune, which had followed the
Mayfloicer, bringing some thirty-five sturdy
young Englishmen to strengthen the colony,
had also apparently brought over with them
some who were disposed to occasional frolic
and relaxation, as can be inferred from Brad
ford's remarks: " WehadacoldeChristmasse."
he wrote. "Ye governor called them out to
worke but most of ye new corapanye excused
themselves and said it went agaynst their con
science to worke on that daye. When ye others
came home at even from their worke, he found
them on ye streete at play, pitching bar and
throwing balk So he wente to them and tolde
them that it was agaynst his conscience that
they sholde play and others worke. 1£ they
made it a matter to keepe Christmasse, they
must keepe their houses." And the young fel
lows, halted in the midst of their sport, stood
staring dumbly at the accusing figure of the
grim old Puritan governor, as he stood there in
the snow, cloaked, hatted and heavily booted,
the representative of a stern, ascetic creed that
held no parley or compromise with "ye ungodlie
pleasures " of the English church and its fes
tivals.
At that particular period, however. Christmas
was in peril on both sides of the Atlantic, and
this extreme rigidity was maintained for many
I years. Every trace of the holiday was in danger
{ of disappearing in America. In 1639. the Gen-
I eral Court of Massachusetts, enacted that "any
body who is found observing, by abstinence
j from labor, feasting, or any other way, any such
i day as Christmas day, shall paye for every such
offense five shillings." Peter, the old historian
of Connecticut, tells us that one of the laws of
that State expressly forbade the keeping of
Christmas, the making of mince pies, dancing,
or playing on anything except the drum, jews
harp or trumpet. Poor old Christmas was out
lawed and proscribed ! It it true, in ]£_£__ the
prohibition act was repealed; but for nearly 50
years thereafter, the Puritan antipathy con
trolled the people almost everywhere, and in
the New England cities shops were kept open,
markets were held, and only a very small pro
portion of the population attended service in
the churches on that day.
But if the observance of Christmas flagged
among the stern Puritans of Xew England, it
was quite different with the jovial Dutchmen,
who, with their wives and families, had come
over to. settle in New Netherlands some four
years after the arrival of the Mayflower at Ply
mouth. At home,- "Kerstrydt " (Christmas) was
the first of all their festivals, "Nieuw Jahr,"
"Pass" and "Pinxster" paling before its greater
glories. Besides, to those feast-loving colonists.
Christmas was a double anniversary, since it
was on Christmas that the first largo party of
arrivals from the Netherlands had introduced
themselves as neighbors of the Manhattos, the ;
Hackensacks and the Puritans. Memories of i
" Landing Day," therefore, added . to the ,
zest of the Christmas celebration, and when in j
1625, the anniversary came around and Santa i
Claus prepared to make his debut on Ameri- j
can soil, it was observed with spirit appropriate I
to the occasion. A year had passed and they t
were fairly established in their new home, al- !
though everywhere around them the savages i
still held possession. So weak were they num- j
erically that they were looking forward with |
high hopes and expectations to the arrival of j
Peter Minuit and the good ship Sea Mew, with j
a re-enforcement for the little colony. And j
after Minuit came, and the long-coated, shrewd '
Hollanders had succeeded in buying the island {
from the Indian owners, theyf that they had !
indeed a home wherein to spread the cheer of ;
the "Kerstrydt." and to make merry withaL
And we may well believe that the Christma3 j
of 1626 was in many respects the merriest they '
had ever known; What fun those days held i
for the young f01k3," skating on the Velch, or |
turkey shooting in the forest," and with what !
hail of welcome the great ovens were made to j
yield up their meats, and the barrels their I
brew, while the logs crackled on the twelve- ;
foot fire-places and the mighty punch-bowl, re
enforced by huge haunches of venison and whole I
roasted turkeys 1 - weighed down the board! ~ I
Aa the years passed l by, the day became more i
and more a social and domestic holiday, with j
its gifts, trees, ■ fights, altars, dinners and j
drinking.
For the first century, however, colonial life, j
especially in New* England had few holidays. |
The Puritans hated the English church festi- !
vals with such persistent zeal that they
frowned on the public celebration of all alike, I
Christmas being their special detestation. A !
few independent spirits clung to the customs i
of their forefathers and observed Christmas. j
but the majority studiedly ignored it. Even '
when the Church of England succeeded in es- i
tablishing Christmas service in Boston; Gover
nor Belcher favoring them, the judge and other I
public dignitaries made open war against it. !
A3* late as 16G9, tho only recognized holidays j
were Election. Commencement, Training Day
and Thanksgiving. The stern conscientious
ness that cut down the Maypoles at Merry
mount and Chariestown in 1628 andl6S7 and
which held the eating of pancakes on Shrove
Tuesday to be "heathenish vanity," could
even less endure the pompous mirth and roys
tering of the Yuletide festival. Not until the
opening of the present century was it regarded i
as a holiday in Xew England, although for i
nearly a score of years before, many families i
had made Christmas a two-weeks' season of j
visiting, in which both planters and slaves
participated. ' Gradually the world's greatest
festival won its way in American hearts, and
now its observance has become almost general
in every State of the Union. Stockings are
hanging as religiously in Xew England homes
for Santa Claus to fill, as anywhere in the civil
ized world, and the exchange of gifts and good
wishes, the giving of dinners and the innumer
able merry frolics that take place among us,
show that the ancient " Lord of Misrule " and
" Abbot of Unreason." who in past generations
dominated the Yuletide revels abroad, have ex
tended their dominion across the ocean and
firmly established their pleasant sway on this .
side of the Atlantic
But Christmas has not always been a day of
peace in American history. Many times the yule
logs have blazed amid surroundings of carnage
and slaughter. Some of these days are memor
able. During the Christmas week of 1814. Jack
son held the approaches to New Orleans with
j less than 3000 troops, some small gunboats, and
a few scattered garrisons, against a British
fleet of 50 men of war, mounting over 1000 guns.
and with a total force of 20,000 men. Cochrane,
the British Admiral, had boasted " I shall eat
my Christmas dinner in Xew Orleans," and the
remark being carried to Jackson, the taciturn i
old hero quietly observed : " Perhaps so, but
I shall have the honor of presiding." After
days of desultory fighting, all unfavorable to
the English, Major-general Pakenham, a famous
soldier and brother-in-law to the Duke of Well
ington, on Christmas morning arrived in camp
and assumed the British command. He suc
ceeded in blowing up a couple of gunboats,
while Jackson, armed with a telescope which
he had borrowed from an old Frenchman, ',
watched the operation from the attic window of
a farmhouse. He ate his Christmas dinner on the
field, and Cochrane ate his on his flagship. The
boast of victory was unfulfilled, for the British
flag went down amid smoke and slaughter in
, the great battle that followed two weeks later.
, Half a century afterward Christmas day,
1864, the guns of Butler and Porter were thunder i
ing against Wilmington, in an attack that was
repulsed.
Our Christmas happily comes in peaceful
times. . Serene both at home and abroad, Uncle ,
Sam can look over his large and growing family
and, with the true spirit of the day, join in hail
ing the festival of " Peace on earth, good will
toward * men." We may ; miga . the ." masks,
mummers, and other disorders," that character
ized the old-time celebration in other lands and
which are still used in Southern -Europe ; we
may even miss the distinctively English flavor
of boars-head, stuck with its orange and sprig
of rosemary; but we can have a thousand better
substitutes from the affluent abundance of our
own beloved land, and the joy on our own
hearths, to make a real American Merry Christ
, mas. -■'■ Ebbs Clayton.
' ■ -. -^ -
THE ABUSES OE CHEISZHAS.
Some Timely and Pertinent Observations From
Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
Were all grown people to give their most in
ner thoughts regarding Christmas time expres
sion, I fear an overwhelming majority would
declare it a season to be dreaded. I have often
watched the faces of shoppers and pedestrians
during the weeks preceding the holidays,
and I must confess that at no other time of the
year do I see so many worried brows, anxious
eyes, and troubled countenances.
When the necessity for gift making comes in
to the brain, comfort flies out of the heart.
If people made gifts only to the needy, to the
deserving, and to those who are really dear to
them, it would lessen the burden on heart and
purse to a great extent. But to make presents
to persons simply because they expect it, either
through relationship or habit, is to reduce a
beautiful impulse to an irksome necessity; and
that is what a great many folks do every
December.
A bright young lady once said to me that it
seemed a most unfortunate circumstance that
the Holy Child should have been born just the
time of the year when we needed all our money
to buy fuel, flannels and furs for our own com
fort. She thought August would have been a
better month for Christmas. " One feels more
generous in August," she said. "We are all
through worrying about our summer wardrobe,
and we have not begun to think of our winter
needs. But in December, a3 the bleak winds
hurl about us. we are tossed between the Scylla
of our own needs, and the Charbydis of our
duty to others."
I think there is much truth in her words.
One reason why so many people " are glad when
the holidays are over," is because they have
worn themselves out in mind and body in this
very straggle between duty to themselves and
their friends,.
Self-sacrifice for the benefit of others, is the
key to character building and to happiness. It
is all there is of religion. But the sacrifice
which does no one any good is a very foolish
sort of self-immolation, it seems to me.
There is something very offensive to me in
the idea of "paying debts "in the matter of
gifts. It savors too much of the original Amer
ican Indian. *
I would just as soon my friend would ask the
price of my gift, and hand me the dollars and
cents, as to show an eagerness to make a return
gift. I havo in mind a lady who made forty
presents one Christmas, and was both wounded
and angry that she received only thirty-five the
next year. Five people in whom she had in
vested her capital, had failed to pay dividends!
An acquaintance of mine begins in July to
prepare her Christmas gifts to innumerable
people, and when Christmas is over she is pros
trated with the fatigue and strain of her ex
plaits. :A I- ■
A great many people seem to utterly lose
their heads when trying to select Christmas
gifts. A more sensible and prudent lady last
year walked into a fashionable and high priced
shop, and bought an elaborately embroidered
smoking cap for which she paid five dollars,
and presented it to a brother-in-law who never
smokes.. " I was just distracted trying to think
what to get for him " she explained afterward,
■ " and when I saw that elegant cap in the win
dow I decided to take that and settle the mat
ter." It hangs on a nail in the gentleman's
wardrobe to-day, a monument to a woman's
folly.
I think Christmas ought to bring us peace of
mind, loving thoughts, and tender feelings
toward the whole world.
" It ought to be commemorated by little acts
of kindness. little deeds of love " to all those
who come within our radius, and not by some
great effort at munificence which strains
purse and disposition. It is very easy to spoil
children or servants by too generous gift giv
ing. I have seen a servant who was delighted
with a new apron her first Christmas in this
country, look contemptuously on a five dollar
bill and a dozen knicknacks later on: because
1 she had received ten dollars the year before.
Two or three simple toys please children as
well as twenty-five. -
The moment a gift is expected, it loses all its
sacredness and worth, it seems to me. It is
often the surprise of a present which makes its
charm. We ought to make an effort to sur
prise the deserving poor on Christmas in this
way; to seek them out, and lighten their needs I
by some thoughtful and appropriate offering,
when they least look for it. It would be an ex
cellent training for the children who have been
reared in wealth, or even in comfort, to take
them about among the poor people the week
before Christmas, and let them decide whether
they would receive their usual load of expen
sive toys, or donate that amount ox money to _
the relief of the destitute.
It would be a practical lesson in the beauty
of self-sacrifice. :
- Family parties, form a suitable and pleasant
manner in which to celebrate Christmas. It is
an excellent time to put away old grudges, and
forget the small misunderstandings which
creep into the most peaceful circles. And it is
a Christian act to look about outside the blood
relatives, and see if some solitary being, man
or woman,* without family ties, cannot • be
asked, to bask in the light of the home circle
and partake of the Christmas festivities. In
fact, whatever form our celebration of Christ's
birthday takes, some phase of unselfishness,
some act of pronounced .fulness toward
others, should be included. 7To merely have
"a good time "and be able to display more
presents than our neighbor, is quite "forgetting
the ■ nature . of the Being > whose natal day
Christmas commemorates. . .
' < ' Ella Whzeleb Wilcox. "
THESE CHRISTMAS EVES.
A True Story. ...
I.
1569.
Slowly wavered down the snowflakes.
As the twilight shadows fell;
While the hoarse wind shook the forest;
And the pealing of the beD
Floated wide o'er vale and village,' .
O'er broad river, and dark wood.
With its prayerful iteration: .
• " God is good! Yea, God is good!
Could the sorrow-stricken widow.
As she clasped her only child:
Little curly-headed "Artie,"
While he gazed at her and smiled
As he prattled of the " goodies ' '
That old Santa Claus would bring.
Could she tell the destitution,
Which had caused her tears to spring!
Life was useless but for " Artie,"
And her toil so scantly paid,
That God must have quite forgot her:
Sick at heart she grew afraid.
But a chubby hand points outward
Where the dim-seen steeple stood.
As he turned to kiss her: " Mamma!
Hear the bells say. ' God is good.'."
Then she hugged her baby to her,
With him richer than a queen;
Told him of the Christ-child's manger.
And the star at Bethlem seen;
How the angels to the shepherds
Sang the song of '* Peace on earth,"
And the wise men came with presents.
To rejoice at Jesus' birth.
Answered Artie's prattling questions
" Would not Santa come to-night. '
" Would he bring - dear Artie ' presents? "
" Would he fill his stockings bright?"
Then he pulled his little shoes off.
Drew his red socks from his feet
Little, chubby, pink and lovely.
That might walk the golden street.
She could scarcely speak for sorrow,
Christmas eve found her too poor.
For a present to her loved one.
Tear drops fell upon the floor.
Artie kissed away her sorrow,
" He was Mamma's little man;
He would labor and support her,"
Thus his childish prattle ran.
Long she bowed and prayed for pity;
" I'll not leave you comfortless,"
Had the Savior, onco the Christ child.
Soothed his dear ones in distress.
Artie threw his arms around her.
While her tears fell in a flood.
Trickling through her thin, white fingers.
As he whispered: "God is good?"
*f*^kfc— __
Surely 'twas a Christmas angel
That now opened wide the door.
Eringing baskets full of good things;
Artie wondered more and more.
'Twas a maiden, loved and loving,
God had sent with clothes and food;
Eyes and checks shone with pleasure.
As she uttered, *' God is good!"
How her gaze beamed like an angel's.
While her voice was like the dove's ;
How her presence brightened all things.
She that lived the Christ-child's love.
Long she lingered, cheering, strengthening,
Till the moon shone o cr the woods;
And again the bell's sweet music
Told afar that " God is good!"
IL._/_„
18S3.
From the cottage on the hillside.
Glowed the saffron sunset far.
As night's curtain slow descended,
'Neath the brilliant evening star.
Arthur worn by days of labor.
By his bench had sunk" to sleep.
And in visioncd ways of wandering. .
Passed abroad o'er plain and deep.
He had studied, toiled, invented.
Bid his mother cease her fears.
He had gained the goal he longed for.
That should light the coming years.
Then the bell's sweet, slow vibrations.
Quivering through the peaceful air,
Culled him home, and as he wakened
Saw his mother watching there.
Then they gazed out o'er the village,
Darkening in the amber flood ;
While the dimming steeples echoed.
" God is good! Yes, God is good!"
Long they stood there, running over
All the sad and toilsome past;
Saw the hand of God directing
All the future, bright and vast.
Saw again the angels hovering.
Round the Christ child's manger low;
Heard the tones of angels singing.
In the far off long ago.
Saw the heavens bending over.
Till their home in beauty stood;
And the noble youth beside her
Whispered to her: God is good!
3 -y
' HOMIt ."'' 4 J»jy?!i »
In an hour they reached the chapel,
Crowded to its utmost wall,
While the organ's swelling anthems
On the hushed air rise and fall.
Blaze the lights on decorations, -
All the incense of delight,
Happy children, loving mothers.
Golden gifts and splendor bright.
In the silence of the throng
Arthur heard his own name mentioned.
As the full choir joined the song.
" Honor to the Young Inventor! *
Tears of joy, now dim his eyes;
And his mother's heart is swelling
And the plaudits loud arise.
When they homeward walked, the angels .
Of the Christ child by them stood;
And the bells deep anthem sounded,
"God is good! O, God is good! "
m.
1893.
Keenly bright, with diamond glitter
Shone the stars on Christmas eve.
And the ermine cloak of winter. _.
Held the earth with icy sleeve, ' _
Crisp and keen the winter vigor,
Could not bind the hearts within . .
The grand mansion on the hillside, . .
Where the humble cot __rd been. .
Wealth had come at Arthur's bidding,
- Boundless, spreading evermore;
*" Brightness kindled all the mansion,
Where the darkness was before.
Life had blossomed to fruition.
Echo bore his name afar; -
Bringing fame, and wealth and honor
Bright as yonder evening star.
On his arm there leaned a maiden. .
By his side his mother stood;
While the bells pealed loud to heaven, ,
" God is good! O, God is good! "
-AAJ^A'Zyy '
Far below them spread the city. .
Lit by thousand diamonds bright;
Like a star-gemmed stream, the valley
Blazed and twinkled through the night.
And his heart swelled proud within him;
As he backward cast bis thought.
From the myriad blazing splendors, ;
And the work his brain had wrought.
To the cottage, to the tear drops.
To the mother sorrowing prayer,
'A j. A' -■ ■:-:- --_•■ - _'.
.--_. ftm "f
To the manger of the Christ-child.
And the angels hovering there.
He had gained both wealth and station.
For his name had rung abroad,
Trumpet-tcngued to every nation.
Serving man and serving God.
And he drew his bride still closer.
Fair and beautiful she stood.
And the joy bells filled the valley:
" God is good! Yes, God is good! "
Kindling city after city.
Driving darkness o'er the heights;
Blazed in magic panorama.
O'er the world, the wondrous lights.
And the world brought tribute to him,
But unspoiled it found him still ;
Still the boy all tender hearted
Of the cottage on the hill.
Years had passed, but memory bound them.
Mother, son and lovely bride;
Music floated through the mansion.
Brightness, bloom on every side.
Nor the poor were unrcmembered.
On this night, the dearest, best.
For the memories of the Christmas, ;
In the old time now were blest.
Generous flowed the stream of mercy.
Into many a darkened home
Till the presence of Christ's angels,
Seemed to glorify the gloom.
And the night was filled with glory.
As the bells in joyous mood.
Flooded all the air with music:
" God i 3 good! Aye, God is good! "
Wrox ARLAXD.
SAM BIjODWHISTLE'S ROMANCE.
Why He Finally Married to Escape the Evils
of Christmas Time.
Sam Bird whistle ' 3 engagement created sur
prise in Harlem where he resides. He was al
most forty years of age, and on the subject of
matrimony was inclined to be cynical. Ho
often remarked that matrimony was merely a
female despotism tempered by puddings; that
love was a fellow going around swapping a
peck of trouble for a pint of happiness. And
yet, on or about the first day of January. 1891,
he will wed Mis 3 Daisy Symperton. 1 will ex
plain how he came to change his mind:
About ten years ago, Tom Green, Charlie
Brown and Sam Bird-,, were friends and
room-mates. They were all single young men,
but Green and Brown notified Sam that he was
expected to " stand up " with them. Sam re
plied that he never deserted a friend in his hour
of danger. Not only that but " the best man "
presented each bridal couple with silverware
worth §200. Sam was very liberal and accomo
dating. Before the year was over he was
called by two happy fathers to stand up again,
this time a3 godfather. He did so, and pre
sented each of his little namesakes with a $20
silver cup. At Christmas he made a substan
tial present to each fond mother. There was
nothing mean about Sam. However, his re
ward was coming, for Mrs. Brown overwhelmed
him with a pair of embroidered suspenders,
while Mrs. Green gave him a pair of embroid
ered slippers, which cost bim eight dollars to
have made up.
Several more years scooted away. It was
Christmas again. Sam's presents to the Green
and Brown families had become a permanent
institution. Forty dollars went for two pairs
of opera glasses for the ladies. His two god
children got the usual ten dollar gold piece
each. But what worried him was the increase.
Twins had swelled Green's number of these
pledges of affection to five. There were four
children in the Brown family. It would have
appeared shabby to have overlooked them be
cause they were not ail his godchildren, so he
came down real handsome, and was rewarded
with a hatband and a fifty cent necktie from
the grateful mothers. " Reciprocity is a great
thing," soliloquized Sam, "but somehow, it
is beginning to hit me in a sore spot."
Time continued to slide away. It wa3 a few
days before the Christmas of 1593. Sam was
sitting in his room. It looked like the Christ
mas display in a show window. He had been
buying presents. There were four boys and five
girls in the Brown family, and the Green family
had also increased to seven. Christmas bells
had become terribly suggestive of Christinas
bills to the unfortunate victim of the Christmas
custom. After Christmas was over it took him
a long time to get over Christmas. He had
aged very much of late years. There was a
wild haunted look in his eyes. He seized a pen
cil and he soon had a sheet of paper covered
with figures. He gazed in despair at the result
of his calculations. Then he soliloquized as
follows:
" In IS9B, at this rate, I'll be in the poorhouse.
As a gentleman, I can not shake these old
friends, but I think they might be a little more
considerate. I suppose they think because I've
got no family of my own, I ought to support
their families. If I had known this I'd have
headed them off. by providing myself with a
family of my own. I could have conjugated
the verb to marry myself, if I had only believed
that I was in the potential mood. By Jove, an
idea strikes me! "
He started to his feet and paced the floor
nervously. Then he went to his desk, and from
a secret recess took out a photograph, and
gazed on it fondly, as he murmured " Ah. my
old Daisy." Then he kissed it. until he almost
rubbed the skin off the end of his nose.
" I'll risk it ! Desperate diseases require des
perate remedies," he exclaimed, and seizing his
hat he rushed out.
And now all his friends are wondering over
the approaching marriage of Sam and his old
time love, Daisy Symperton. Profiting by
his own experience, Sam has persuaded a
wealthy and unsophisticated young friend,
Charlie Bondclipper, to be his best man, gam
says if he don't get some of his money back
from somebody he will be very much disap
pointed. Alex E. Sweet.
ENLIGHTENED PHILANTESOPY.
Precus.— Jobson is a philanthropist.
Secuxdcs.— does he dot
Primus.— He's so sorry for : poor children
who have no Christmas that lie spends the year
telling them Santa Claus is a myth.— Puck.

xml | txt