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A I Ifublished^Weekly > iw "” a l l "tf”* —' | nnesetflL J Vol. XVIII.— No. 23 AN OLD-FASHIONED CHRISTMAS TREE DO YOU ever, at about this time of year, let your thoughts a carry you back to the days of v your childhood, when Christ w mas was the holiday, planned o for and looked forward to from I January to December, and when Santa h Claus was a living, breathing, tangible t< being; one to be loved and appealed to I <by letter) in all cases? b I do. n In the little mountain town that I s love to call “home,” the people, the I best God ever made, have preserved 1 the old-fashioned Christmas customs, h too often lost in larger and more im- h portant centers of population. There’s a public Christmas tree, of course. It’s o hauled for miles in a wagon, and the t person chosen to get the tree considers f himself honored by having the privi- I lege of driving to the fir belt and back, r thrust upon him. Usually the celebra- c tion is engineered by the school teach- t ers, and after the arrival of the tree, r their troubles commence. The court- i house, setting for other and less pleas- J ant scenes, is usually chosen as the t home of Santa Claus. Everyone i knows the “fixins” for a Xmas tree, j Golden spangles, silver stars, gaily t colored baubles and decorations, tin seled angels, colored candles, all \ woven in and out with yards upon < yards of snowy popcorn strung upon l thread, and glittering strings of I “boughten trimmins.” Among these ‘ purely decorative features are placed 1 the presents; everybody’s presents; j for the little town is just one big _< family at Christmas time and every i person sends his or her collection ; of gifts to be placed upon the common i tree. When it’s all finished and noth ing is needed but to light the candles and await the coming of the patron saint, every one has something there; no one is forgotten. And then the great night comes! The whole population takes its way to the courthouse, and the big room is fairly crowded with the happy throng of revelers. Each new party entering the room greets the tree, now shining in all its glory, with exclamations of delight. “Isn’t it just grand?” “If it only doesn't catch afire. I’m so afraid of fire.” “Oh, how lovely! Ido wonder what all those decorations cost?” This in an audible whisper from some inquisitive old maid. A constant buzz of chil dren’s voices fills the room with sound, and the bright, happy faces of the youngsters, as they turn in rest less expectancy toward the point where Santa will appear, seem to shine with a beauty borrowed from the tree. A stir and rustle up in front brings every head around with a snap, but it is not the old gentleman. The master, or, as is usually the case, the mistress of ceremonies, has stepped forward and is introducing a shy young miss “who will recite, ‘The Night before Christmas,’ while we’re waiting for Santa.” Then follows “Sheridan’s Ride,” by some embryo W ebster, who may perhaps, be troubled with the bashfulness and stage fright that so troubled the youthful Daniel. Loud applause greets all efforts, how ever, and when three little tots begin “Three Little Maids,” and become con- v fused into total forgetfulness, the applause is just as great. And then he comes! First a tinkle of a single bell; then louder—and louder, until at last, with a great final jingle of ail his musical harness Santa comes! Yes, sir! Santa Claus himself, in all his glory. Fur coat and cap; bundle of toys; strings of bells—Oh, he’s all there, all right! A ihan that dared say Santa was a myth would be in danger of being mobbed. No Santa Claus? Perish the thought! Straight up the central aisle he goes, making his speech as he walks along, and from all sides comes the shrill treble of chil dren’s greetings: “Merry Christmas, Santo Claus,” “Merry Christmas,*’ “Here he is,” “Hello, Santa,” etc., etc., etc. STILLWATER, MINNESOTA, THURSDAY, DECEMBER 22, 1904 One excitable youth is jumping up and down in an ecstasy of joy, but his vocabulary is limited to one word which he 6houts over and over and over, “fli-Hi-Hi-Hi”—Oh! of course! That happens. It always does. Some how every Christmas there is some one to bring a baby, and the baby bawls. It wouldn’t be a real Christmas if a baby didn’t cry. Usually tho, the mother manages to quiet it, even tho she does so with fear and trembling. But then “just a little" wouldn’t hurt. Yes, sir! Many a young American has earned bis first taste for candy by howling at a Christmas tree. Then come the presents. First the old man calls out a few names, and as the happy youngsters march proudly forward, he hands them their presents. But, of course, he can’t stop long! He must visit the many other waiting children, so he turns the tree and con tents over to willing deputies who rapidly distribute the innumerable packages. Joy? Well I guess yes! Every kid hugs some long-wished-for treasure in his arms, while the older people derive immeasurable fun from jumping jacks,—jacks-in-the-box,—tin horns, etc. When at last the tree is stripped; when every present has an owner and every owner a sticky, candied face, the the crowd files slowly out of the big building, but not to bed. No, indeed! “Down town” there is a hall with a large expanse of passably smooth floor, and here the crowd—big and little — quickly finds its way, and far into the morning the tinkle of the piano, played by volunteers, beats out the time for tireless feet. Ah! the old-fashioned Christmas for me. R. W. A Voyage Back to Norway. IT WAS in June, 18 —, that four of c us started for New York on a g visit to our native country. To f describe the whole journey would ' be impossible in this article, hence we will only begin with our arrival in Norway. Most of us have read more £ or less about the land of the “Midnight ( ] Sun,” but how many of us have seen it? It has chanced that the writer 1 has seen it many, many times. How- 1 ever, all he wishes to say about the 1 “Midnight Sun” in this article is, that 1 in order to gain an idea of its splendor ' it must be seen. The sight is inde scribable. Here then, perhaps, will be well to say that, to make a good de scription of anything, a person must be a perfect master of the language. The writer is not a perfect master of the English language, at least, not as per fect as he would like to be. He must, therefore, kindly ask his readers to be blind to the gravest errors, hoping that with time will come better perfection. Certainly, for some years I had known nothing like the happiness of that voyage to my native land, with its bright expectations, its sense of re lief. To look back upon that voyage is like looking back into some other life. My heart bounded within me when the red roofs and gables of Stavanger came into sight, and I was the very first to leap from the steamer, far too impatient to touch Norwegian soil once more to dream of waiting for the more leisure members of the party. The quiet little town seemed still fast asleep; I scarcely met a soul in the primitive streets, with their neat wooden houses and their delightful look of home. It came into my mind how, years before, my father’s last , words had been “En glad hjemkomst , til gamle Norge,” (a happy return to i old Norway) how for so long these 1 words had seemed to me the bitterest mockery, and how, at last they had , come true. ' Later in the day, when we slowly , steamed into Bergen harbor and saw once more the place I had so often “IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO MEND.” longed for, with its dear familiar houses and spires, its lovely surround ing mountains, my happiness was not without a strong touch of pain. For after all, tho mother and home re mained, I knew father was gone forev er; and tho Fru R. Sr. stood waiting for us on the landing quay with the heartiest of welcomes, yet I could not but fee! that father’s strong arm was absent. How singular is the thing called pleasure, and how curiously related to pain, which might be thought to be the opposite of it; for they never come to man together, and yet he who pur sues either of them is generally com pelled to take the other. They are two, and yet they grow together out of one head or stem; and 1 cannot help think ing that if HSsop had noticed them he would have made a fable about God trying to reconcile their strife, and when he could not, he fastened their hands together; and this is the reason why, when one comes, the other fol lows. It is odd to think that all these hundreds of years people have been racking their brains to find some expla nation of the great problem, that generation after generation of unsatis fied people have lived and died. A poor old woman once answered the problem for me quite unconsciously. She was out in the country for a change of air, and she said to me, “It’s just like Paradise here, mister, and if it could always go on it would be heaven.” We went toNestuen, and wandered about in the woods. I took the party to see the quaint old wooden church from Fortun .We had a merry picnic at Fjessanger, and an early expedition to the fish market, determined that they should enjoy that picturesque scene with the weather-beaten fisher meu, the bargaining housewives with their tin pails, and the boats with their shining wealth of fish. Again and again, too, we walked up the beautiful Fjeldveien to gain the wonderful bird’s-eye view over the town and the harbor and the lakes. But perhaps no one was sorry when the visit came to an end, and we were once more on our travels, going by sea to Molde and thence to Ness. It was quite late one evening that we steamed down the darkening Roms daUfjord. The great Romsdalshom reared its dark head solemnly into the sky, and everywhere peace seemed to reign. The steamer was almost empty and Mr. T—, the Misses T — and my self stood down at the forecastle end, silently reveling in the exquisite view before us. Just at that moment from behind the dark purple mountains rose the great golden-red moon. It was a sight never to be forgotten, and the glow and glamor cast by it over the whole scene is indescribable. Y r eblungsness, with ita busy wooden pier and its dusky houses, with here and there a light twinkling from a window; the Romsdalshom, with its lofty peak, and the beautiful valley be yond batbed ; n that sort of dim bright ness and misty radiance which can be given by nothing but the rising moon. The steamer glided on over the calm moonlit waters, and drew nearer to Veblungsness, where an eager-faced crowd waited for the great event of the day. A sudden terror seized me; I feared some one would como to our end of the steamer and break the spell that bound us, and then the very fear made me realize that this was no dream, but a great reality. But no one came near us. We stood there side by side, and the steamer moved on peace fully; the silvery track still marking the calm fjord till we reached the lit tle boat that was to land us at Ness. I wished that we could have gone on for hours, yea, weeks, for as yet the mere consciousness of that beautiful sight satisfied me—l wanted nothing but the rapture of life after death—of brightness after gloom. When it was no longer possible to prolong that strange, weird calm, I went, like: a man half awake, to see after the luggage, and presently, with an odd, dazzled feeling, found myself on shore, where Herr Lars Bjorge, the landlord, stood to welcome us. “Which is the hotel?” I asked And Herr Bjorge replied, “Det hus overmidt under maanen.”(lt is yonder, sir, that house right under the moon.) A. R. Jill But One. To make a world, it has been said We need all kinds of men; As well the “big guns” of today As those who might have been. We need the ones who “used to be” Because they know it all, To guide us stumbling mortals that From grace we do not fall. We need the men who have the coin To own the great railroads; Likewise the legislators To revise the Penal Codes. We need the farmers, yes we do, To cultivate the soil; Also the family doctor Perchance we have a boil. We need the lawyers for to state Our cases to the court; Without the thieves and beggars We would be just two kinds short. In fact, we need quite many kinds, Tho to some I’ll not allude; But we’d get along first-rate without The man ingratitude. Christmas, 1904. OLD Father Time has taken v another annual step beyond fa the nineteen hundred century t mark. To the world this step j is full of significance. God’s mighty a truths have been preached to this c world for all these years, and during j all these years men, women and chil- t dren have celebrated the Feast of the l Nativity. Let us now, on the thresh- t hold of another festival, stop and con- 8 sider what it means to us. Have we, c after all these years of teaching, any 1 tangible evidence of the existence of 1 that love on which His creed was t founded? If your answer is yes, then i let me ask, “Where shall we seek this c divine love”? Is it to be found in the < modern chaotic alarms of the t street ? Is it to be found in the carnage ] of war, such as now holds the stage in 1 the Far East? Are we to look for it j in the frenzied struggle for financial 1 existence and supremacy in our own i country ? Certainly not, you will say, < and say truly. But there does exist \ “Peace on earth, good will to men!” i It resolves itself into the question of ] looking for good or evil. Look for the good in this world and you will ; find it everywhere. Look for sin and despair and it is present. At this < season of the year it becomes us then as men to look for the good; to close our eyes to strife and sin and folly. This is the season when men forget, for the time at least, their personal hates and jealousies, when enemies forgive, when lovers are united and when the family gathers again to cele brate the Love that was given to the world so many years ago. To the young, especially, this season brings the joyous realization of long cherished hopes and fancies. Dear old Santa Claus has come and filled their hearts with joy and gratitude and their stockings with toys and sweets. What would we not give to believe 1 once more the fairy stories of innocent 1 childhood ? How many hearts are on this occasion filled with thoughts of a ’ Savior’s existence? Are we among ; them? We must also become children - again to partake of the joys that are • so plentiful during this festive season, t W e must cast aside all hatred and evil > and live in the spirit and sentiment of l the time. Then we, too, can know ! real happiness. I know many of my E readers will find it rather hard to do this; will find the burdens altogether ) too heavy to bear and yet think of joy, [ but it can be done nevertheless. Let us 3 try and make someone else happy and i thus gain happiness ourselves. I dare Trotio. j sl.ooper year, In advance i cnMo. -j g ix Months 50 cent* say there 'is many a mother or wife or relative who would esteem a letter from one of theirs of greater joy than the costliest gifts that could be laid at their feet. Have we such a loved one somewhere? Then let us make a heart glad,—two hearts including our own— and pen a message of love to those who we think have forgotten us, but who, I dare say are waiting for just that letter. To us it may mean more than happiness and peace. It may prove to be the turning point in our lives. Another way to be happy and par take of the merry spirit of Christmas is to remove from our hearts that old hatred for some one which has made us veritable slaves to sullenness and sourness. In its place let us put a little kind feeling for a fellow man; if possible for the one who has been the object of hatred. W e may not think so, butsuch action will cause happiness. And real, sterling happiness at that. Now, let us finally look to the joys of others at this time. We can gain a good share of joy for ourselves by doing that. Consider how many thou sands of young ones are happy today; how many older ones are partaking of this universal Love. Think of the prosperity of our country; the abund ant harvests; the remarkable progress in business, in art, in society. Where there is sin and vice and want and war, let us hope and pray for im provement; for the love that shall place happiness in its place ere anoth er year rolls its days nearer eternity. Let us be with those in spirit on whose hearth the fire has gone out; with the poor in distress whose festive board is bare. Indeed, we have so much to be thankful for, to feel hap py about, that we can hardly realize it all. There is many a man outside who never thinks of ways of being su premely happy. His time is claimed by the press of business. In this, at least, we are at an advantage. We can think and think deeply on these things, and when we go forth from here, we , can have in our experience a thorough knowledge of the art of making others happy, of bringing good will and peace > and joy to such as there are who think it is not for them. Many of us will no doubt be remembered by the loved ) ones at home. Their hearts may feel ) the solitude of our absence and the > loss of our companionship. We can i make their burdens lighter by comfort ; ing them in our only way; by giving l them words and messages of encour \ agement and pointing them to Hope, , our greatest reliance. To a great t many men this Christmas time will be ’ nothing more than an excuse for a E general carousal. It may be that it i would have been so in the case of 1 many of us here today. W e can see 1 the folly and uselessness of such a 3 course. It ought ever to be a lesson for i the future. The highest and purest of a thoughts should inhabit our minds at • such a time as this Let. us therefore ;, make the most of our situation in 1 this regard. May we look at the s Christmas season as a season of f orgive i ness, a season of inspiring joy to all >- who come into contact with us, and a e season when we lay the best founda tion for our future careers. Before o another year has passed things will g have changed. Are we going to be d counted in the change ? Let it be r hoped that we are; that a change d for the better has taken place. Omega And as we approach this greatest of all festivals let us remember why it is we celebrate; why all people on this earth are happy or ought to be happy. If we can excuse away every other reason to be merry and joyous, we cannot escape the great est cause to be forever happy; the rea son that we received into the world a Savior for all mankind whose message should be a message to us today “Peace on earth; good will to men.” E. W. M. Many a man thinks he is getting a corner lot in glory when he puts a dime in the collection that ho couldn’t pass on the street car.—Ex.