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; CHRISTMAS^SELECTlois. j

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CHRISTMAS^SELECTlois. j There is to-day in all the world no land in which the great Christian festival of the year I ia not celebrated in some way — simply, perhaps, by the missionary among the heathen in some far-off jungle, or with all tho elaborateness characteristic of it here in Merrie England. Wherever Christian civili- sation stands supreme, the day of the nativity is not only a day of "peace and goodwill to men," as announced by the heavenly hosts, but of good things alike for the great and the lowly. It is a day on which piety and fun and frolic and entire jollity of heart merge together without calling forth a sour look on anybody's face. "Sweet spicy odours fill the air, From Christmas greens on wall and stair." There is a holiday look to everyone's home. Even the plainest rooms are gay and fine with their wreaths and festoons of holly and pine. Merriment reigns supremo all over the Christian world on the anniversary of our Saviour's birth, and everywhere the spirit of the Herald Angel's words animates loving hearts, and makes labour light to willing hands. When the Yule log burns upon the hearth, With carol, chime, and Christmas cheer, A fire should kindle in each soal To gladden all the coming year; A flame to brighten heart and home, And shine as well for other eyes, ¡ Fed by good deeds which still glow on When dim and cold the Yule log lies. No life so poor but it may know A spark of this divinest fire. No life so beautiful and rich But still, flame-like, it may aspire. Then kindle Yule logs far and wide To burn on every happy hearth, Fit symbols of the faith and love That purify and bless the earth. The brightness and happiness of the season seem to pervade the whole of life so thoroughly that plain, every-day duties are completely swept out of sight by the oncoming tide of pleasures, which grow dearer to us all just in proportion as we devote our time to the real work of making others happy; not happy | for Christmastide alone, but as we gather up the good of the months just past, and crowd this good into lives that otherwise would not be overlaid with pleasure, and we must try to bestow the pleasures which will gain in strength through the months to come. "Heap on more wood, the wind is chill, But let it whistle as it will We'll keep our Christmas merry still 1" Somewhere in the dreams of all mankind there is a Golden Age. In the Golden Age, as they fable it to themselves, men are gracious and good and thoughtful of those j who love them, because they want to be rather than because they ought to be. Does not the spirit of Christmas time prefigure it ? How much of grace is instinct in the hearts oi mankind, how very far the mission that began on earth nineteen centuries ago has progressed towards fulfilment, is seen with each recurring Christmastide. Then is dis- closed, if but for a week, if only for a day, the spectacle of men responsive to the message of "goodwill" from no perception of duty to be done, but because it is the very thing they want to do and at last have time to do. The will of the heavens discharges itself in no blinding, unearthly radiance; it clothes itself in the warm earthly sunlight of the natural human affections flowing forth in the natural, unforced human way. There is some disagreement as to the origin of Christmas Day. The legend runs that in the earliest period of the Christian Church some communities of Christians celebrated the festival of Christmas on January 1st; others observed it on the 6th of that month. In some of the Eastern Churches it was kept about the time of the Jewish Passover, near the end of March. There is also some evidence of its having been observed on September 29th, being the Feast of Taber- nacles. In the year A. D. 325, when the Emperor Constantine legally established Christianity in the Roman Empire, Christmas was observed at the beginning of the new year, while in the Eastern Church it was celebrated on January 6th. Pope Julius eventually effected a com- promise, and the 25th day of December was established. These historical statements have been called in question by some, but John Chrysostom, the eloquent preacher at Con- stantinople in the fourth century, confirms them. All the year round the Christmas holly is biding its time in the lonesome wood. When the snowdrops come and the jonquils blow, when the roses bloom and the lilies shine, we have no need of holly. But the winter winds blow, the streams are ice-locked, the fields are deep in snowy silence, and over the vast white world the golden bells of Christmastide are ringing loud and clear. How lofty is their message; how sweet their chorale, as they remind us of that old night in Bethlehem when the angels brought heaven's greeting to earth. The woods where the holly grew tough and staunch and thrifty arc quiet, but out of their peace they are sending something most precious to the crowded streets and the busy towns and the rushing, laughing, wistful, vehement, over- flowing life of the people in hamlet and city at Christmastide. Somehow, the holly says "Merry Christmas in accents more tuneful than speech. It is itself a song without words. We loved it when we were children, and if we have lived until grey hairs we love it still. j And Christmas has enjoyment in it, even: though we live, as it were, in the past. Don't shrug your shoulders, or turn away dis- heartened, saying there is no merriment in the world for you, that merriment is only for the young or for the fools. No, no, don't say that; it's a bad thing to look down on merriment. Of course, there are some kinds of mirth which arc worthy only of all your scorn, and rightly so, but innocent mirth and merriment is good for each one of us, and we should cultivate it rather than shun it. Let us try and have a merry Christmas. And the best way to gain this for ourselves is to deserve it by the simple, easy action of making others happy. By way of an ending to this column you might do much worse than read and digest the following few "Don'ts" for Christmas. There is sure to be something among them that will appeal to you, and that may help you to add extra enjoyment to your Yuletide happiness. Don't think that you are too poor to keep Christmas. You can't be so poor as all that. Don't spend so much over Christmas that you can't get even with the butcher and grocer until March. Don't give presents that are a pleasure for ten minutes and a burden and a worry for ten years. Don't give your wife something she doesn't care for just because you want it yourself. This don't works the other way just as well. Don't forget that a basket of fruit or a box of flowers is just as nice a present in many cases as something that will last a good deal longer. Don't try to find the price-marks on the gifts you receive. If the gifts are worth having they mean something above £ s. d. Don't check off each gift you reoeive against each present that you gave and calcu- late whether you made or lost. Christmas ia not the time to be any smaller or meaner than you oca h«.\p.

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