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*#*#*# | LADIES' GOSSIP. § S (BY "VERE.") Christmastide Once More. Some Reflections on the Anniver- sary. Should anyone assei't that Christmas, though still a picturesque anniversary, has i>eeti so shorn and despoiled of its old-tone decorations that one doubts whether the modern celebration would be recognisable to our grandfathers, he or she is pretty sure to be contradicted. Christmas is and wdl al- ways ba surrounded with the lialo of ideal- ism however thick the slush and drizzling the rain outside the word seems to everlast- ingly recall snow, frost, holly and bells and one makes the best belief possible of evolve those accessories from the deptlis of your imagination. In some featurets the modern Christmas lias degenerated, none will deny. The carol singers of the old times, with their defects hidden and-their virtues magnified as seen through the kindly haze of the past, certainly seem a. thousand times xnore welcome than the miserable anti-cliniax of to-clay-hands of the disreputable Sji.&II Boy trotting forth weird versions of time- worn livinns in the doorways. As against that, who dare contend that thing of ex- quisite beautv, the Christmas card is not an infinite advance upon whatever crude carica- tures served our ancestor s purpose? And the plum-pudding too—into what corner of the earth does it not penetrate, under every clime and scenery; into regions our grand- fathers neither knew nor dreamed of Then we have the Christmas tree, the dark green foliage of its boughs, sparkling with rose, amber and yellow light from its de- pendent fairy lamps, and glittering with its toys and presents. Yes, strange though it 8OUnds, the Christmas tree was also a thing Ðf which three generations ago wotted no- thing. In Germany, ot course, it is as old as Christmas; and from Germany it came, with the Prince Consort, it is said, in 1840 or thereabouts. So we have at least one other innovation to boast of. Many ancient cus- toms, 'tis true have vanished for good but either they were fast booming incongruous, w we have devised something better. But ww essential—the weather has changed for Dm bad. Christmas and frost are insepar- able, and when the natal day dawns on a landscape sodden and slushy, in place of sleeping calmly under the virgin mantle of the wow, all" festivities have much of the make-believe abont them. The Christmas we love is the idealism of the Christmas caid, with. its holly and ice and enurch bells; without the two former ingredients the an- swering loses half its charm. But were it only for the sake of th? child- reD Christmas will alwavs be retained, even if climatic vagaries expose us at the end of Ðecember to a temperature of 80 degrees in the shade. It is doubtful, one admits, whether the modern child still believes in £ anta Claus' descent down the sooty avenue of the chimney that as old an age a its pre- decessors but all children have sufficient of the poet about them to appreciate the in- herent poetry of Christmas a.nd fairyland. JTor them at least most homes -endeavour to Vrighten up with song and play, however •Braserable may be other conditions; and ^paterfamilias and malierfumilias appreciate none of the rare enjoyments that are their's in the course of a year, more titan the ume- ztntined delight from a lapse into naturalism .and a romp on all fours with their young- sters, flushed, panting, and breathless with laughter. Christmas is perhaps the one time when it is possible really to throw off twenty Of twenty-five years of existence, and live again in the spirit of childhood. One may fight against the inclination, but the most xesolnte attempts to maintain a frigid and dignified demeanour soon melt away before the spectacle of a band of happy children at Christmastide, drinking their fill of pleasure while they may. And wherever a desire to dick to the rules of social decorum prevails in the end, in that house, one may safely assert it will be as perfunctory and tiresome a performance as sitting in a empty theatre jita dull play the most irksome and detestable experience which I can conceive Christinas then speedily ends in boredom, yawns, sleep- iDelti and general disgust and ennui, wliere- ever stern views of parental discipline can- not condone any relaxation of good behaviour at Christmastime—though for that matter, what child whie.li really "behaves itself' and "doea as its father tells it" is anything but n. nuisance and a prig in nine cases out of ten, and prematurely grave? ++ Swansea this reason will be as usuial well provided for bv local entrepreneurs. The fcJwamsea Star theatre remairs faithful to the traditions of "Emm" and his favourite type of play, and produces "Honour Thy Father" on* Christmas week. Apropos of Mr. Melville. I heard a good story of on awkward incident at the old "Star" n:any years ago. A fall of snow had to be simu- lated, and boys were accordingly placed in •"flies," if that is the correct technical de- signation for them, to release a shower of fluttering bits of paper at a critical moment, and for that purpose they were prov dbd with a bundle of old newspapers. But alas! when the crisis arrived they had cl'itin for- gotten their duty to rip the paper into suit- ably small pieces beforehand, and presto! a shower of huge half sheets and pIeces-mam- moth snowflakes—of newspaper descended about the ears of the haple:-s actois PooW Myriorama, with its glimpses of lands be- yond the sea, occupies the Albert Hall as of vore. Christmas without Pooles would be shorn of halt its joys at Swansea. At the tJrand: Theatre on Boxing Night "A Me .sage from Mars," the ever welcome, is presented. Perhaps an account of a few curious Oiristmas customs in other land.s may en- tertain vou. In some puts of Noiway mar- riageable girls tluow *hoes (before the wed- ding!) imbo the street at nights, and the husband is expected to come from tho quarter in which the shoe points. Should the toe lie towards the house of ti^e fair thrower, how- ever, it signifies further celibacy for twelve months at leist. In Yienua they open the chops all the Sunday o;>fm-e Christinas, when the fair "\Vie::e;in hausfraus" (to adopt the irerman spelling), do the bulk of their shop- ping. In Germany, pre-eminently the home of the Christmas tree, the Kaiserin presents lier children with a magnificent Christmas tree, hung with presents, which she herself has selected. Nearer at home, Gloucester in 1893 commenced the custom of sending lam- prev pies to the Sovereign annually, from the Mayor. Many of the evening bodices are very Iwvelv. and yet oh, so delightfully simple. Such, for instance, as a dainty sop-white chiffon bodice cut perfectly full, and much pouched at the centre of the front. The fcerthe is cut low all the way round, exposing the top of the shoulders. The beading of this berthe is then closely gauged, white over the shoulders a couple of bands of pistaele— green velvet, hold the bodice in position. Large puffs, soft and falling, form the sleeves, which reach well below the elbows; while, supposing a rather more important-looking bodice be required, this self-same iden could De elaborated by Vandykes of black Chantillv- lace applique to the loVer edge of the bodice, with the points pointing upwards. Further appliques of the same lace should be placed up on each sleeve, with the points pointing Everything at the moment tends to the drooping style of dress. Fichus are charm- ing and generally becoming, and they are just now worn as plain as plain cam lie, al- most like a three-cornered shawl, the point at the centre of the back and the long ends reaching in stole fashion over the shoulders in front. Then there is another arrangement of a kind of handkerchief, with one point at the back, a.nd one over each arm, the final two ends being brought to the centie of the front in the ordinary fashion. Decidedly the mark of the best dressed— the most suitably dressed—woman for winter wear in the streets is the black petticoat; it is also in every way the most economical, for mud-stains will brush off, leaving it none the worse, whereas a light-coloured petticoat is stained and at once loses that freshness which should constitute its chief charm. Under any coloured dress, or under a black one, a black petticoat looks equally well, whilst un- der a very light fawn frieze or cloth nothing is so chic. A black gros silk may be named' for choice, edged with a flounce of broderie anglaise work; you thus get a petticoat with good' hard wear in it for several months. Acoordion-pleated flounces, such as edge so many of the cheaper petticoats, are waste of money, for the process to which they are subjected in the pleating is bad for the silk, and the rub of the dress against the folds of the pleats soon causes holes to appear, with the result that. the flounce is presently in rags. For evening wear an over-flounce of lace protects the silk frill from the rub, and makes it last double as long; but 1 tee on it petticoat for outdoor wear in the winter is now the worst of style. Although as a rule one very much dislikes the idea of any imitations, still the imitation fur cloths of this season are worthy of more than a little notice. Moleskin certainly takes tinlt prize, and would deceived an expert. Not only the colour ,but the texture and depth of the fur have been most excellently imitated. These cloths are being used for making the most fascinating little fur co-it- lets, and also for the now indispensable fur stoles A combination which is very dainty, and perluips a little extravagant, is that of fur and chiffon. Sables 'and brown chiffon are a luxurious and beautiful combination; while often furs already in hand, which would piwe very costly if we went out to match, may be used up in the most delightful way, if lavish clriffon frills are added to their ex- isting shape. I mean, for instance, a fur capelet, which is apparently much too small for fashionable wear, can be made to look handsome and cliarming and quite up-to-dote if we will but add rich accordion-pleated chiffon frills of a sufficient depth. So, too, with our muffs. The small muff is now quite out of date, and a large muff in an expensive fur is an item about which many women have to hesitate before purchas- ing, solely, of course, on the score of expense. If, however, we will but add a plethora of chiffon frills to our somewhat unfashionable fur muffs, the effect will be all that the heart of woman can desire, for by such aid she can enlarge the appearance of her tiny muff to the dimensions of a full-sized "granny," and so keep even with the fashions of the moment at a remarkable small outlay.

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