Christmas Day (pt1)

Jennie Juneiana: Talks on Women’s Topics by Jennie June (Boston: Lee and Shepard, 1864)

Christmas Day

Christmas is so dearly beloved, so universally honored, that not a man, woman, or child, from the millionaire down to the newsboy, but anticipates its coming with pleasure, and makes, according to their means, preparations for participating in its social enjoyments. Fathers, mothers, sisters, and brothers are met with smiling faces and open purses where Christmas candies are sweetest, where the toys are the newest, and the dress-patterns (for holiday presents) put up in the most attractive forms. They carry their own parcels, sometimes on foot, sometimes in carriages, and sometimes in a democratic omnibus; and so full are they of their own pleasant thoughts and anticipations, that they quite forget how it looks to see little knobs sticking our here, and brown paper parcels there, and little wheels or dolls’ heads in another place. In their own way, every one is joyfully looking forward to Christmas day morning for the solution of delicious mysteries, which are no mysteries after all; and each one is devising in their own way how to arrange the family surprise, whether in the form of a Christmas tree, or to let Santa fill the old-fashioned stockings. That is the important question.

            If we could decide, it would be in favor of family gatherings, and a grand old Christmas tree, with its green branches and brilliant lights, and the mingled association of the poetical with the religious and the home element. Filling the stocking will do for isolated cases, or where circumstances absolutely forbid the additional trouble and preparation of a Christmas tree; but all families whose numbers are of sufficient importance, and who are not prevented by any untoward accident, will find the tree the most suggestive and delightful way of memorializing the day upon which our Saviour was born, and the one which clings most fondly to the recollection in after life. We have a weakness for large families, with plenty of aunts and uncles, and brothers and sisters, and cousins, and, if we are married, and had a home, and several little “cares” and “joys,” we should certainly go to work in this way to get up a Christmas tree.

            First, we should write to grandmamma, and aunt Mary, and aunt Eliza, and tell them that we are going to have a Christmas tree at our house, and they must be sure to come and bring all the children, and, if they had any thing in the shape of presents for any particular persons, they must certainly send them in time, or come in the afternoon of the day preceding Christmas, and assist in dressing the tree.

            The next thing would be to decide upon the gifts. Louisa will have a new pair of slippers for papa, whose old ones are beginning to wear out. Mamma will surprise him with a dozen cambric handkerchiefs, hemstitched, and marked herself; bachelor uncle George must have a nice new dressing-gown; and a “new baby,” in aunt Mary’s family, on complete set of rigging from top to toe. The materials for these muse be bought, and busy fingers applied to them at once. Then grandmamma must have one of the real lace caps, in which she looks so nice, and which are her pride; while Charlie, who is a wag, announces his intention of buying for her a “needle-threader,” (“ladies and gentlemen, only one shilling!”) which Louisa, who takes every thing literally, gravely assures him would be a very foolish investment, as it would take grandmamma longer to thread the threader than it does the needle. Mamma privately thinks Charlie is a wit, and shall get the chest of tools of which he has been dreaming. She thinks, also, that Louisa is very thoughtful, and deserves the pretty writing-desk, completely furnished, which has long been the object of her ambition. The baby is hardly old enough yet to understand the signification of Christmas or a Christmas tree, but he can admire the brilliant color of a new set of coral, and be amused with the antics of an India-rubber roly-poly; so he will be provided for.

            Then for the cousins; aunt Eliza’s “Watty,” who thinks of nothing but being a soldier, must have a little Seventh Regiment suit complete; and aunt Mary’s “Frank,” who loves to draw and paint, will be delighted with a set of books, pencils, and brushes. Cousin Lucy, who is fifteen, shall have an elegant fan, to replace the one she lost; and “little Sarah” a doll taller than herself, with a house and furnished parlor in perfect order.

            All these articles are obtained by divers journeys and shopping in Broadway, in Canal Street, and even out on the Avenues; and the goods, instead of being sent home, as usual, are tucked in muffs and under arms, and, after they reach their destination, secretly smuggled upstairs, and placed under lock and key, until the eventful moment arrives.

            This important part of the work accomplished, we go to Maillard’s and obtain a supply of beautiful little bonbonieres, imported from France and Germany on purpose for the Christmas trees. These are all sorts of quaint and fanciful shapes which can be made to hold anything, and are filled with bonbons, and suspended by colored ribbons from the branches of the tree. Among those we select are little ermine muffs; pull the tiny tassel at one end of the pink lining, and out comes the inside in the form of a hollow tube, full of lemon drops. There are also Swiss baskets; high-heeled green, and blue shoes; fancy circus caps of red satin, with dashing white feather; tall Welsh hats of white felt, striped with the very tiniest of bright-colored ribbons; demure dogs and profound cats. With broad, ruffled caps upon their wise old heads, which open, and disclose sweet comfits or brandy drops, which last have sometimes found a lodgment in other heads then theirs. Every thing that is pretty or grotesque is represented in miniature, with all sorts of queer little baskets and boxes, just the things to put Christmas candies in, and, with their gild and prettiness, to add to the effect of the Christmas tree.

            The next step is the lights, which are furnished by small, short candles covered with colored tissue-paper shades. These must also be suspended from the tree by ribbons.

(Continued….)

Published in: on December 7, 2011 at 1:09 am  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Wonderful post Anna!

  2. Thanks. Part 2 will be up in a few days.


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