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What Christmas is, as we Grow Older . . .           Page  1
What Christmas is to a Bunch of People . .             "      3
An Idyl for Christmas In-doors . . . .                         "      7
What Christmas is in Country Places . . .                 "      8
What Christmas is in the Company of John Doe  Page 11
The Orphan's Dream of Christmas . . . .                  "     16
What Christmas is after a Long Absence . .             "     17
What Christmas is if you Outgrow It . . .                    "     20
The Round Game of the Christmas Bowl . . . .                23


TIME was, with most of us, when Christmas
Day encircling all our limited world like a
magic ring, left nothing out for us to miss
or seek; bound together all our home enjoyments,
affections, and hopes; grouped every
thing and every one around the Christmas
fire; and made the little picture shining in
our bright young eyes, complete.

Time came, perhaps, all so soon! when our
thoughts overleaped that narrow boundary
when there was some one (very dear, we
thought then, very beautiful, and absolutely
perfect) wanting to the fulness of our happi-
ness; when we were wanting too (or we
thought so, which did just as well) at the
Christmas hearth by which that some one sat;
and when we intertwined with every wreath
and garland of our life that some one's name.

That was the time for the bright visionary
Christmases which have long arisen from us
to shew faintly, after summer rain, in the
palest edges of the rainbow! That was the
time for the beatified enjoyment of the things
that were to be, and never were, and yet the
things that were so real in our resolute hope
that it would be hard to say, now, what
realities achieved since, have been stronger!

What! Did that Christmas never really come
when we and the priceless pearl who was our
young choice were received, after the happiest
of totally impossible marriages, by the two
united families previously at daggers-drawn on
our account? When brothers and sisters in law
who had always been rather cool to us before
our relationship was effected, perfectly doted on
us. and when fathers and mothers overwhelmed
us with unlimited incomes? Was that Christ-
inas dinner never really eaten, after which we
arose, and generously and eloquently rendered
honor to our late rival, present in the company,
then and there exchanging friendship and
forgiveness, and founding an attachment, not
surpassed in Greek or Roman story,
which subsisted until death? Has that same

rival long ceased to care for that same price-
less pearl, and married for money, and become
usurious? Above all, do we really know, now,
that we should probably have been miserable
if we had won and worn the pearl, and that
we are better without her?

That Christmas when we had recently
achieved so much fame; when we had been
carried in triumph somewhere, for doing
something great and good; when we had won
an honored and ennobled name, and arrived
and were received at home in a shower of
tears of joy; is it possible that that Christmas
has not come yet?

And is our life here, at the best, so con-
stituted that, pausing as we advance at such
a noticeable mile-stone in the track as this
great birthday, we look back on the things
that never were, as naturally and full as
gravely as on the things that have been and
are gone, or have been and still are? If it be
so, and so it seems to be, must we come to
the conclusion, that life is little better than a
dream, and little worth the loves and strivings
that we crowd into it?

No! Far be such miscalled philosophy from
us, dear Reader, on Christmas Day! Nearer
and closer to our hearts be the Christmas
spirit, which is the spirit of active usefulness,
perseverance, cheerful discharge of duty,
kindness, and forbearance! It is in the last
virtues especially, that we are, or should be,
strengthened by the unaccomplished visions
of our youth; for, who shall say that they are
not our teachers to deal gently even with the
iiipalpable nothings of the earth!

Therefore, as we grow older, let us be more
thankful that the circle of our Christmas
associations and of the lessons that they
bring, expands! Let us welcome every one
of them, and summon them to take their places
by the Christmas hearth.

Welcome, old aspirations, glittering crea-
ures of an ardent fancy, to your shelter
underneath the holly! We know you, and
have not outlived you yet. Welcome, old
projects and old loves, however fleeting, to your