The original Pick and Print Gallery was at one time a print company that produced fine art prints by artist Kathy (Rice) Grimm. After staying in business unsuccessfully for five years the gallery closed it's doors. But, Kathy did not close her heart for God's people. Today she still submits new and free Christian graphics to a great number of blogs across the internet. These blogs keep the Christian internet community supplied with free resources and will continue to do so for hopefully, many years to come. Kathy is an art teacher, illustrator, fine painter, and most important a child redeemed by the eternally gracious blood of The Lamb, Jesus. Visitors may find a few rare prints of Kathy's paintings at GoodSalt


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      There is plenty of light and heat in the desert. The occasional oases that cheer the traveler show that the soul is rich enough to grow vegetation. Water is the one thing it needs to make it a fertile garden. Sometimes a few feet beneath the surface there flows a river. If the parched and fainting pilgrim would pause and dig deep enough he might find the cool, clear water that would quench his thirst and help to save his life.
      So many a man is content to live on the surface of life and suffer thirst of soul, whereas, if he would "let down his bucket for a draught," the deeps of better inspiration--a true water of life--might always be reached.

      God often calls these children home. This is the bitter cup he gives us to drink. He knows our soul's disease. He is the wisest and best of physicians, never selects the "wrong bottle," and never gives one drop too much of the correct medicine. He does all things well. His children must trust their Father. He chastens for our profit that we may be partakers of his holiness.
      God sees that some one in the family has need of his spiritual skill--from indulged sin, from weakening of the graces, and he gives a cup of bitter disappointment--the gourd that was so grateful and refreshing withers. Patient submission, humble acquiescence, and unfaltering trust and hope are the lessons God would teach and what the soul's disease requires. If the cup had not been drunk the blessings would have been lost; if the child had not died, the idol would have been enthroned.
      God's cup may be bitter, and you may be long in draining them, at the bottom lies a precious blessing. Rich graces lie there. For this reason the "trial" of faith is precious. So Abraham and Job and all God's children have found it.
      Be not surprised when God mixes such a bitter cup for you as the death of a child. You need that medicine. The best tonic medicines are bitter. They have a merciful purpose. It is your Father's cup. Drink it, unhesitatingly, uncomplainingly, and with the spirit of that Beloved Son, who said, "Not my will but thine be done." by Rev. T. L. Cuyler, D. D.

Take the pillows from the cradle
Where the little sufferer lay;
Draw the curtain, close the shutters,
Shut out every beam of day.

Spread the pall upon the table,
Place the lifeless body there;
Back from off the marble features
Lay the auburn curls with care.

With its little blue-veined fingers
Crossed upon its sinless breast,
Free from care, and pain, and anguish,
Let the infant cherub rest.

Smooth its little shroud about it;
Pick the toys from off the floor;
They, with all their sparkling beauty
Ne'er can charm their owner more.

Take the little shoes and stockings
From the doting mother's sight;
Pattering feet no more will need them,
Walking in the fields of light.

Parents, faint and worn with watching
Through the long, dark night of grief,
Dry your tears and sooth your sighing--
Gain a respite of relief.

Mother, care is no more needed
To alley the rising moan,
And though you perchance may leave it,
It can never be alone.

Angels bright will watch beside it
In its quiet, holy slumber
Till the morning, then awake it
To a place among their number

Thus a golden link is broken
In the chain of earthly bliss,
Thus the distance shorter making
'Twixt the brighter world and this.

poet unknown.

    Mortifying as Lord Macartney's great plum-pudding failure may have been to the diplomatist, he might have consoled himself by remembering that plum-porridge was the progenitor of the pride and glory of an English Christmas. In old times, plum-pottage was always served with the first course of a Christmas-dinner. It was made by boiling beef or mutton with broth, thickened with brown bread; when half-boiled, raisins, currants, prunes, cloves, mace and ginger were added, and when the mess had been thoroughly boiled, it was sent to table with the best meats. Sir. Roger de Coverley thought there was some hope of a dissenter, when he saw him enjoy his porridge at the hall on Christmas-day. Plum-broth figures in Poor Robin's Almanac for 1750, among the items of Christmas fare, and Mrs. Frazer, 'sole teacher of the art of cookery in Edinburgh, and several years 'colleague, and afterwards successor to Mrs. M'Iver,' who published a cookery-book in 1791, thought it necessary to include plum-pottage among her soups. Brand partook of a tureenful of 'luscious plum-porridge' at the table of the royal chaplain in 1801, but that is the latest appearance of this once indispensable dish of which we have any record.

      As to plum-pudding, we are thoroughly at fault. Rabisha gives a recipe in his Whole Body of Cookery Dissected (1675), for a pudding to be boiled in a basin, which bears a great resemblance to our modern Christmas favorite, but does not include it in his bills of fare for winter, although 'a dish of stewed broth, if at Christmas,' figures therein. It shared honours with the porridge in Addison's time, however, for the Tatter tells us: 'No man of the most rigid virtue gives offence by an excess in plum-pudding or plum-porridge, because they are the first parts of the dinner;' but the Mrs. Frazer above mentioned is the earliest culinary authority we find describing its concoction, at least under the name of 'plumb-pudding.'
 Robert Chambers' Book of Days, 1869


      Geese, capons, pheasants drenched with amber-grease, and pies of carps-tongues, helped to furnish the table in bygone Christmases, but there was one national dish—neither flesh, fowl, nor good red herring—which was held indispensable. This was furmante, frumenty or furmety, concocted—according to the most ancient formula extant—in this wise: 'Take clean wheat, and bray it in a mortar, that the hulls be all gone off, and seethe it till it burst, and take it up and let it cool; and take clean fresh broth, and sweet milk of almonds, or sweet milk of kine, and temper it all; and take the yolks of eggs. Boil it a little, and set it down and mess it forth with fat venison or fresh mutton. 'Venison was seldom served without this accompaniment, but furmety, sweetened with sugar, was a favorite dish of itself, the 'clean broth' being omitted when a lord was to be the partaker.

      Mince-pies were popular under the name of 'mutton-pies,' so early as 1596, later authorities all agreeing in substituting neats-tongue in the place of mutton, the remaining ingredients being much the same as those recommended in modern recipes. They were also known as shred and Christmas pies:

'Without the door let sorrow lie, 
And if for cold it hap to die,
We'll bury it in a Christmas-pie, 
      And evermore be merry!'

      In Herrick's time it was customary to set a watch upon the pies, on the night before Christmas, lest sweet-toothed thieves should lay felonious fingers on them; the jovial vicar sings:

'Come guard the Christmas-pie, 

That the thief, though ne'er so sly, 

With his flesh-hooks don't come nigh,
To catch it, 

From him, who all alone sits there, 

Having his eyes still in his ear, 

And a deal of nightly fear,
To watch it.'

      Selden tells us mince-pies were baked in a coffin-shaped crust, intended to represent the cratch or manger in which the Holy Child was laid; but we are inclined to doubt his statement, as we find our old English cookery-books always style the crust of a pie 'the coffin.'

      When a lady asked Dr. Parr on what day it was proper to commence eating mince-pies, he answered, 'Begin on O. Sapientia (December 16th), but please to say Christmas-pie, not mince-pie; mince-pie is puritanical. 'The doctor was wrong at least on the last of these points, if not on both. The Christmas festival, it is maintained by many, does not commence before Christmas Eve, and the mince-pie was known before the days of Praise-God Barebones and his strait-laced brethren, for Ben Jonson personifies it under that name in his Masque of Christmas. Likely enough, the name of 'Christmas-pie' was obnoxious to puritanical ears, as the enjoying of the dainty itself at that particular season was offensive to puritan taste:

'All plums the prophet's sons deny, 

And spice-broths are too hot; 

Treason's in a December-pie, 

And death within the pot.'

Or, as another rhymster has it:

'The high-shoe lords of Cromwell's making 

Were not for dainties—roasting, baking; 

The chief est food they found most good in, 

Was rusty bacon and bag-pudding; 

Plum-broth was popish, and mince-pie—

O that was flat idolatry!'

      In after-times, the Quakers took up the prejudice, and some church-going folks even thought it was not meet for clergymen to enjoy the delicacy, a notion which called forth the following remonstrance from Bickerstaffe.—'The Christmas-pie is, in its own nature, a kind of consecrated cake, and a badge of distinction; and yet it is often forbidden, the Druid of the family. Strange that a sirloin of beef, whether boiled or roasted, when entire is exposed to the utmost depredations and invasions; but if minced into small pieces, and tossed up with plumbs and sugar, it changes its property, and forsooth is meat for his master.' Robert Chambers' Book of Days, 1869

      Next in importance to the boar's-head as a Christmas-dish came the peacock. To prepare Argus for the table was a task entailing no little trouble. The skin was first carefully stripped off, with the plumage adhering; the bird was then roasted; when done and partially cooled, it was sewed up again in its feathers, its beak gilt, and so sent to table. Sometimes the whole body was covered with leaf-gold, and a piece of cotton, saturated with spirits, placed in its beak, and lighted before the carver commenced operations. This 'food for lovers and meat for lords' was stuffed with spices and sweet herbs, basted with yolk of egg, and served with plenty of gravy; on great occasions, as many as three fat wethers being bruised to make enough for a single peacock.

      The noble bird was not served by common hands; that privilege was reserved for the lady-guests most distinguished by birth or beauty. One of them carried it into the dining-hall to the sound of music, the rest of the ladies following in due order. The bearer of the dish set it down before the master of the house or his most honoured guest. After a tournament, the victor in the lists was expected to shew his skill in cutting up inferior animals. On such occasions, however, the bird was usually served in a pie, at one end of which his plumed crest appeared above the crust, while at the other his tail was unfolded in all its glory. Over this splendid dish did the knights-errant swear to undertake any perilous enterprise that came in their way, and succour lovely woman in distress after the most approved chevalier fashion. Hence Justice Shallow derived his oath of 'By cock and pie!' The latest instance of peacock-eating we can call to mind, is that of a dinner given to William IV. when Duke of Clarence, by the governor of Grenada; when his royal highness was astonished by the appearance of the many-hued bird, dressed in a manner that would have delighted a medieval de or Sober.
Robert Chambers' Book of Days, 1869


 The 'brave days of old' were, if rude and unrefined, at least distinguished by a hearty and profuse hospitality.

      During the Christmas holidays, open-house was kept by the barons and knights, and for a fortnight and upwards, nothing was heard of but revelry and feasting. The grand feast, however, given by the feudal chieftain to his friends and retainers, took place with great pomp and circumstance on Christmas-day.

      Among the dishes served up on this important occasion, the boar's head was first at the feast and foremost on the board. Heralded by a jubilant flourish of trumpets, and accompanied by strains of merry minstrelsy, it was carried—on a dish of gold or silver, no meaner metal would suffice—into the banqueting-hall by the sewer; who, as he advanced at the head of the stately procession of nobles, knights, and ladies, sang:

'Caput apri defero,

Reddens Laudes Domino.

The boar's head in hand bring I

With garlands gay and rosemary;

I pray you all sing merrily,

Quid estis in convivio.

The boar's head, I understand,

Is the chief service in this land;

Look wherever it be found,

Service cum cantico.

Be glad, both more and less,

For this hath ordained our steward.,

To cheer you all this Christmas

The boar's head and mustard!

Caput apri defero,

Reddens laudes Domino.'

The brawner's head was then placed upon the table with a solemn gravity befitting the dignity of such a noble dish:

'Sweet rosemary and bays around it spread;

His foaming tusks with some large pippin graced,

Or midst those thundering spears an orange placed,

Sauce, like himself, offensive to its foes,

The roguish mustard, dangerous to the nose.'

      The latter condiment was indispensable. An old book of instruction for the proper service of the royal table says emphatically:

'First set forth mustard with brawn; take your knife in your hand, and cut brawn in the dish as it lieth, and lay on your sovereign's trencher, and see there be mustard.'

      When Christmas, in the time of the Commonwealth, was threatened with extinction by act of parliament, the tallow-chandlers loudly complained that they could find no sale for their mustard, because of the diminished consumption of brawn in the land. Parliament failed to put down Christmas, but the boar's-head never recovered its old supremacy at the table. Still, its memory was cherished in some nooks and corners of Old England long after it had ceased to rule the roast. The lessee of the tithes of Horn Church, Essex, had, every Christmas, to provide a boar's-head, which, after being dressed and garnished with bay, was wrestled for in a field adjoining the church. The custom of serving up the ancient dish at Queen's College, Oxford, to a variation of the old carol, sprung, according to the university legend, from a valorous act on the part of a student of the college in question. While walking in Shot over forest, studying his Aristotle, he was suddenly made aware of the presence of a wild-boar, by the animal rushing at him open-mouthed. With great presence of mind, and the exclamation, 'Greacum est,' the collegian thrust the philosopher's ethics down his assailant's throat, and having choked the savage with the sage, went on his way rejoicing.

      The Lord Jersey of the Walpolian era was a great lover of the quondam Christmas favourite, and also—according to her own account—of Miss Ford, the lady whom Whitehead and Lord Holdernesse thought so admirably adapted for Gray's friend, Mason, 'being excellent in singing, loving solitude, and full of immeasurable affectations. 'Lord Jersey sent Miss Ford a boar's head, a strange first present, at which the lady laughed, saying she 'had often had the honour of meeting it at his lordship's table, and would have ate it had it been eatable! 'Her noble admirer resented the scornful insinuation, and indignantly replied, that the head in question was not the one the lady had seen so often, but one perfectly fresh and sweet, having been taken out of the pickle that very morning; and not content with defending his head, Lord Jersey revenged himself by denying that his heart had ever been susceptible of the charms of the fair epicure. Robert Chambers' Book of Days, 1869

The burning of the Yule log is an ancient Christmas ceremony, transmitted to us from our Scandinavian ancestors, who, at their feast of Juul, at the winter-solstice, used to kindle huge bonfires in honour of their god Thor. The custom, though sadly shorn of the 'pomp and circumstance' which formerly attended it, is still maintained in various parts of the country. The bringing in and placing of the ponderous block on the hearth of the wide chimney in the baronial hall was the most joyous of the ceremonies observed on Christmas Eve in feudal times. The venerable log, destined to crackle a welcome to all-comers, was drawn in triumph from its resting-place at the feet of its living brethren of the woods. Each wayfarer raised his hat as it passed, for he well knew that it was full of good promises, and that its flame would burn out old wrongs and hearthurnings, and cause the liquor to bubble in the wassail-bowl, that was quaffed to the drowning of ancient feuds and animosities. So the Yule-log was worthily honoured, and the ancient bards welcomed its entrance with their minstrelsy.
      The following ditty, appropriate to such an occasion, appears in the Sloane Manuscripts. It is supposed to be of the time of Henry VI:

Welcome be thou, heavenly King, 

Welcome born on this morning, 

Welcome for whom we shall sing,
Welcome Yule,

Welcome be ye Stephen and John, 

Welcome Innocents every one, 

Welcome Thomas Martyr one,
Welcome Yule.

Welcome be ye, good New Year, 

Welcome Twelfth Day, both in fere, 

Welcome saints, loved and dear,
Welcome Yule.

Welcome be ye, Candlemas,

Welcome be ye, Queen of Bliss, 

Welcome both to more and less, 
Welcome Yule.

Welcome be ye that are here,

Welcome all, and make good cheer, 

Welcome all, another year,
Welcome Yule.'
And here, in connection with the festivities on Christmas Eve, we may quote Herrick's inspiriting stanzas:

‘Come bring with a noise,

My merry, merry boys,
The Christmas log to the firing, 

While my good dame she

Bids ye all be free,
And drink to your heart's desiring.

With the last year's brand

Light the new block, and,
For good success in his spending, 

On your psalteries play
That sweet luck may
Come while the log is a teending.

Drink now the strong beer,

Cut the white loaf here,
The while the meat is a shredding; 

For the rare mince-pie,

And the plums stand by,
To fill the paste that's a kneading.'

      The allusion at the commencement of the second stanza, is to the practice of laying aside the half-consumed block after having served its purpose on Christmas Eve, preserving it carefully in a cellar or other secure place till the next anniversary of Christmas, and then lighting the new log with the charred remains of its predecessor. The due observance of this custom was considered of the highest importance, and it was believed that the preservation of last year's Christmas log was a most effectual security to the house against fire. We are further informed, that it was regarded as a sign of very bad-luck if a squinting person entered the hall when the log was burning, and a similarly evil omen was exhibited in the arrival of a bare-footed person, and, above all, of a flat-footed woman! As an accompaniment to the Yule log, a candle of monstrous size, called the Yule Candle, or Christmas Candle, shed its light on the festive-board during the evening. Brand, in his Popular Antiquities, states that, in the buttery of St. John's College, Oxford, an ancient candle socket of stone still remains, ornamented with the figure of the Holy Lamb. It was formerly used for holding the Christmas Candle, which, during the twelve nights of the Christmas festival, was burned on the high-table at supper.
      In Devonshire, the Yule log takes the form of the ashton fagot, and is brought in and burned with great glee and merriment. The fagot is composed of a bundle of ash-sticks bound or hooped round with bands of the same tree, and the number of these last ought, it is said, to be nine. The rods having been cut a few days previous, the farm-labourers, on Christmas Eve, sally forth joyously, bind them together, and then, by the aid of one or two horses, drag the fagot, with great rejoicings, to their master's house, where it is deposited on the spacious hearth which serves as the fireplace in old-fashioned kitchens. Fun and jollity of all sorts now commence, the members of the household—master, family, and servants—seat themselves on the settles beside the fire, and all meet on terms of equality, the ordinary restraint characterizing the intercourse of master and servant being, for the occasion, wholly laid aside. Sports of various kinds take place, such as jumping in sacks, diving in a tub of water for apples, and jumping for cakes and treacle; that is to say, endeavoring, by springs (the hands being tied behind the back), to catch with the mouth a cake, thickly spread with treacle, and suspended from the ceiling. Liberal libations of cider, or egg-hot, that is, cider heated and mixed with eggs and spices, somewhat after the manner of the Scottish het-pint, are supplied to the assembled revellers, it being an acknowledged and time-honoured custom that for every crack which the bands of the ashton fagot make in bursting when charred through, the master of the house is bound to furnish a fresh bowl of liquor. To the credit of such gatherings it must be stated that they are characterized, for the most part, by thorough decorum, and scenes of inebriation and disorder are seldom witnessed.
      One significant circumstance connected with the vigorous blaze which roars up the chimney on Christmas Eve ought not to be forgotten. We refer to the practice of most of the careful Devonshire housewives, at this season, to have the kitchen-chimney swept a few days previously, so as to guard against accidents from its taking fire. In Cornwall, as we are informed by a contributor to Notes and Queries, the Yule log is called 'the mock,' and great festivities attend the burning of it, including the old ceremony of lighting the block with a brand preserved from the fire of last year. We are informed also that, in the same locality, Christmas Eve is a special holiday with children, who, on this occasion, are allowed to sit up till midnight and' drink to the mock.' Robert Chambers' Book of Days, 1869

     The Scriptures say that "It is good to be afflicted," and experience has her own confirmatory word:

     The waters go out over the fields, leaving waste, where pasture and corn-field had been, and then gradually subside. What have the waters done? Have they ruined the labors of the year? They who do not know Egypt might think so indeed, but the peasants know that to that yearly flood they owe the fertility of the land, that it is that which makes the crops grow and enables them to gather in the harvest. So it is with the river of the grace of God: the waters at times overflow their banks, and one seems to be overwhelmed; the soul is borne down by the flood, all her fruitful land is covered by the waters--waters of desolation, bereavement, affliction. "I am overwelmed, undone; God has smitten me; my life is all wrong; I shall never smile again." Nay, the flood which terrifies thee is the water of the river of God. The water is washing away the impurity of thy soul, giving thee fertility; the fruits of love, patience, charity, shall grow now; it is not a flood of desolation, but of blessing and fruitfulness. (Text.)

      Julemanden can be directly translated to "The Christmas Man". In modern Danish culture Julemanden is the equivalent of the English Santa Claus although the roots of the character reaches into Danish folklore and mythology wherein julemanden is a mythical character who is said to bring Christmas presents to children in Denmark on Christmas eve, celebrated December 24th.
      The main differences to the English Santa Claus is that Julemanden lives in Greenland, loves Rice pudding with cinnamon-sugar, and a slice of butter on top, and is assisted by nisser or a tomte.
     A tomte (pronounced [ˈtɔ`mːtɛ]) or nisse ([ˈnìsːɛ]) is a mythical creature of Scandinavian folklore originating from Norse paganism. Tomte or Nisse were believed to take care of a farmer's home and children and protect them from misfortune, in particular at night, when the housefolk were asleep. The Swedish name tomte is derived from a place of residence and area of influence: the house lot or tomt. The Finnish name is tonttu. Nisse is the common name in Norwegian, Danish and the Scanian dialect in southernmost Sweden; it is a nickname for Nils, and its usage in folklore comes from expressions such as Nisse god dräng (Nisse good lad, cf. Robin Goodfellow).
      The tomte/nisse was often imagined as a small, elderly man (size varies from a few inches to about half the height of an adult man), often with a full beard; dressed in the everyday clothing of a farmer. However, there are also folktales where he is believed to be a shapeshifter able to take a shape far larger than an adult man, and other tales where the tomte/nisse is believed to have a single, cyclopean eye. In modern Denmark, nisses are often seen as beardless, wearing grey and red woolens with a red cap. Since nisses are thought to be skilled in illusions and sometimes able to make himself invisible, one was unlikely to get more than brief glimpses of him no matter what he looked like.
      An illustration made by Gudmund Stenersen of an angry tomte stealing hay from a farmer is pictured above.
      Despite his smallness, the tomte/nisse possessed an immense strength. Even though he was protective and caring he was easy to offend, and his retributions ranged from a stout box on the ears to the killing of livestock or ruining of the farm's fortune. The tomte/nisse was a traditionalist who did not like changes in the way things were done at the farm. Another easy way to offend him was rudeness: farm workers swearing, urinating in the barns, or not treating the creatures well would be soundly thrashed. If anyone spilled something on the floor in the house it was wise to shout a warning to the tomte below. An angry tomte is featured in the popular children's book by Swedish author Selma Lagerlöf, Nils Holgerssons underbara resa genom Sverige (Nils Holgersson's Wonderful Journey Through Sweden). The tomte turns the naughty boy Nils into a tomte in the beginning of the book, and Nils then travels across Sweden on the back of a goose.
      One was also required to please the spirit with gifts (see Blót) – a particular gift was a bowl of porridge on Christmas night. If he wasn't given his payment, he would leave the farm or house, or engage in mischief such as tying the cows' tails together in the barn, turning objects upside-down, and breaking things (like a troll). The tomte liked his porridge with a pat of butter on the top. In an often retold story, a farmer put the butter underneath the porridge. When the tomte of his farmstead found that the butter was missing, he was filled with rage and killed the cow resting in the barn. But, as he thus became hungry, he went back to his porridge and ate it, and so found the butter at the bottom of the bowl. Full of grief, he then hurried to search the lands to find another farmer with an identical cow, and replaced the former with the latter.
      The tomte is connected to farm animals in general, but his most treasured animal was the horse. Belief had it that you could see which horse was the tomte's favourite as it would be especially well taken care of and healthy. Sometimes the tomte would even braid its hair and tail. (These tomte braids were in fact most likely caused by insufficient brushing.) Sometimes actually undoing these braids could mean misfortune or angering the tomte.
      The heathen tomte was in ancient times believed to be the "soul" of the first inhabitor of the farm. He who cleared the tomt (house lot). He had his dwellings in the burial mounds on the farm, hence the now somewhat archaic Swedish names tomtenisse and tomtekarl, Swedish and Norwegian names tomtegubbe, and the Finnish name tonttu-ukko (lit. "House lot man") tomtebonde (bonde "farmer") and the Norwegian Haugkall "Mound man". Thus can the tradition of giving porridge to the tomte at Christmas be a reminiscence of ancestral worship.
      The tomte was not always a popular figure: Like most creatures of folklore he would be seen as heathen and become connected to the Devil. Farmers believing in the house tomte could be seen as worshipping false gods; in a famous 14th century decree Saint Birgitta warns against the worship of tompta gudhi, "tomte gods" (Revelationes, book VI, ch. 78). Folklore added other negative beliefs about the tomte, such as that having a tomte on the farm meant you put the fate of your soul at risk, or that you had to perform various non-Christian rites to lure a tomte to your farm.
      The belief in a tomte's tendency to bring riches to the farm by his unseen work could also be dragged into the conflicts between neighbours. If one farmer was doing far better for himself than the others, someone might say that it was because of him having tomte on the farm, doing ungodly work and stealing from the neighbours. These rumours could be very damaging for the farmer who found himself accused.
      There is similar folklore of tomte/nisse that shares many aspects with other Scandinavian wights such as the Swedish vättar (from the Old Norse landvættir) or the Norwegian tusser. These beings are social, however, whereas the tomte is always solitary (though he is now often pictured with other tomtar). Some synonyms of tomte in Swedish and Norwegian include gårdbo ((farm)yard-dweller), gardvord (yard-warden, see vörðr), god bonde (good farmer), fjøsnisse (barn gnome) or gårdsrå (yard-spirit). The tomte could also take a ship for his home, and was then known as a skeppstomte/skibsnisse. In other European folklore, there are many beings similar to the tomte, such as the Scots brownie, English Hob, the German Heinzelmännchen or the Russian domovoi. The Finnish word tonttu has been borrowed from Swedish.
      The tomte is one of the most familiar creatures of Scandinavian folklore, and he has appeared in many works of Scandinavian literature. With the romanticisation and collection of folklore during the 19th century, the tomte would gain popularity. In the English editions of the fairy tales of H. C. Andersen the word nisse has been inaccurately translated as "goblin" (a more accurate translation is "brownie" or "hob").
      The modern tomte, a tomtenisse made of wood is a common Scandinavian Christmas decoration. He is no longer worshiped or even thought of in a serious fashion in modern Christian Scandinavian homes. He is merely a folk legend and is taken as seriously as we do fairy tales here in America.
      In the 1840s the farm's nisse became the bearer of Christmas presents in Denmark, and was then called julenisse (Yule Nisse). In 1881, the Swedish magazine Ny Illustrerad Tidning published Viktor Rydberg's poem Tomten, where the tomte is alone awake in the cold Christmas night, pondering the mysteries of life and death. This poem featured the first painting by Jenny Nyström of this traditional Swedish mythical character which she turned into the white-bearded, red-capped friendly figure associated with Christmas ever since. Shortly afterwards, and obviously influenced by the emerging Father Christmas traditions as well as the new Danish tradition, a variant of the tomte/nisse, called the jultomte in Sweden and julenisse in Norway, started bringing the Christmas presents in Sweden and Norway, instead of the traditional julbock (Yule Goat).
      Gradually, commercialism has made him look more and more like the American Santa Claus, but the Swedish jultomte, the Norwegian julenisse, the Danish nisse and the Finnish joulupukki (in Finland he is still called the Yule Goat, although his animal features have disappeared) still has features and traditions that are rooted in the local culture. He doesn't live on the North Pole, but perhaps in a forest nearby, or in Denmark he lives on Greenland, and in Finland he lives in Lapland; he doesn’t come down the chimney at night, but through the front door, delivering the presents directly to the children, just like the Yule Goat did; he is not overweight; and even if he nowadays sometimes rides in a sleigh drawn by reindeer, instead of just walking around with his sack, his reindeer don’t fly - and in Sweden, Denmark and Norway some still put out a bowl of porridge for him on Christmas Eve. He is still often pictured on Christmas cards and house and garden decorations as the little man of Jenny Nyström's imagination, often with a horse or cat, or riding on a goat or in a sled pulled by a goat, and for many people the idea of the farm tomte still lives on, if only in the imagination and literature.

     The use of the word tomte in Swedish is now somewhat ambiguous, but often when one speaks of jultomten (definite article) or tomten (definite article) one is referring to the more modern version, while if one speaks of tomtar (plural) or tomtarna (plural, definite article) one could also likely be referring to the more traditional tomtar. The traditional word tomte lives on in an idiom, referring to the human caretaker of a property (hustomten), as well as referring to someone in one's building who mysteriously does someone a favour, such as hanging up ones laundry. A person might also wish for a little hustomte to tidy up for them. A tomte stars in one of author Jan Brett's children's stories, "Hedgie's Surprise".


      Père Noël is a legendary gift-giver during Christmas in France and French-speaking areas, identified with Santa Claus in English speaking territories.
      According to tradition, on Christmas Eve children leave their shoes by the fireplace filled with carrots and treats for Père Noël's donkey, Gui (French for "Mistletoe") before they go to bed. Père Noël takes the offerings and, if the child has been good, leaves presents in their place. Presents are traditionally small enough to fit in the shoes; candy, money or small toys.
      Père Noël is sometimes confused with another character. In Eastern France (Alsace and Lorraine regions) there is a parallel tradition to celebrate Saint Nicolas on December 6. He is followed by Le Père Fouettard, who exists also in Germany (Knecht Ruprecht), Austria (Krampus), Holland (Belsnickel) and Belgium (Zwarte Piet). Le Père Fouettard is a sinister figure dressed in black who accompanies Saint Nicolas and whips children who have behaved badly.
      In Brazil, due to the influence of French culture in the 19th century, the name of Papai Noel was adopted, opposing for example the name of Pai Natal in Portugal. However he is dressed in the North American style.


      Ježíšek (the Child Jesus) is a Christmas gift-giving figure used in the Czech Republic. Similar gift-giving figures also appear in other countries such as Slovakia (Ježiško) or Hungary (Jézuska).
      Much like Santa Claus, Ježíšek gives gifts to good people - that is, Czech people send gifts to their relatives and friends and say that the gifts are from Ježíšek. The gifts are unwrapped in the family circle on the evening of Christmas Eve. Traditionally, Ježíšek is imaged as a small child - concrete appearance left to each one's imagination. In present time, especially in business advertisements, images of Santa Claus are easier to use, but face quite an opposition from public. In overwhelming majority of Czech families, it is still Ježíšek who brings all the gifts - and the Christmas magic, too.
      Ježíšek comes after the Christmas Eve dinner. This usually consists of fish soup or pea soup with fried bread pieces and fried carp with potato salad. The meal named Kuba is also popular. Before or during dinner parents sneak away to put presents under the christmas tree, then after dinner Ježíšek (one of adults again) rings one of the bells on the tree to announce that gifts are there and children rush in.
      Since the 19th century, the Christmas tree is set up on the morning of Christmas Eve and taken down on Epiphany (January 6). Decorations are usually glass blown ornaments, garlands, and candles, lit right when Ježíšek puts presents under the tree.
      The Czech tradition of Ježíšek delivering presents on Christmas is perfectly distinctive of that of Saint Nicholas who brings his presents (in the form of goodies and sweets - or coal and potatoes) on his own day December 6. He is accompanied by an angel and a devil (who is supposed to scare little children by telling them, he will take them to hell if they were naughty).


by William Butler Yeats.

What woman hugs her infant there?

Another star has shot an ear.

What made the drapery glisten so?

Not a man but Delacroix.

What made the ceiling waterproof?

Landor's tarpaulin on the roof

What brushes fly and moth aside?

Irving and his plume of pride.

What hurries out the knaye and dolt?

Talma and his thunderbolt.

Why is the woman terror-struck?

Can there be mercy in that look?

 Part I is here.

      "What do you see up there, O pine-tree?" asked a little vine in the forest. "You lift your head among the clouds tonight, and you tremble strangely as if you saw wondrous sights."

      "I see only the distant hill-tops and the dark clouds," answered the pine-tree. "And the wind sings of the snow-king to-night; to all my questionings he says, 'Snow, snow, snow,' till I am wearied with his refrain."

      "Oh, yes, said the vine. "I heard the country folks talking about it as they went through the forest today, and they said that the prince would surely come on the morrow."

      "What are you little folks down there talking about?" asked the pine-tree.

      "We are talking about the prince," said the vine.

      "Yes, he is to come on the morrow," said the pine-tree, "but not until the day dawns, and it is still all dark in the east.

      "Yes," said the fir-tree, "the east is black, and only the wind and the snow issue from it."

      "Keep your head out of my way!" cried the pine-tree, to the fir; "with your constant bobbing around I can hardly see at all."

      "Take that for your bad manners," retorted the fir, slapping the pine-tree savagely with one of her longest branches.

      The pine-tree would put up with no such treatment, so he hurled his largest cone at the fir; and for a moment or two it looked as if there were going to be a serious commotion in the forest.

      "Hush!" cried the vine in a startled tone; "there is some one coming through the forest."

The pine-tree and the fir stopped quarreling, and the snowdrop nestled closer to the vine, while the vine hugged the pine-tree very tightly. All were greatly alarmed.

      "Nonsense!" said the pine-tree, in a tone of assumed braver. "No one would venture into the forest at such an hour."

      "Indeed! and why not?" cried a child's voice. "Will you not let me watch with you for the coming of the prince?"

      "Will you not tear me from my tree?" asked the vine.

      "Will you not pluck my blossoms?" plaintively piped the snowdrop.

      "No, of course not," said Barbara; "I have come only to watch with you for the prince."

      Then Barbara told them who she was, and how cruelly she had been treated in the city, and how she longed to see the prince, who was to come on the morrow. And as she talked, the forest and all therein felt a great compassion for her.

      "Lie at my feet," said the pine-tree, "and I will protect you."

      "Nestle close to me, and I will chafe your temples and body and limbs till they are warm," said the vine.

      "Let me rest upon your cheek, and I will sing you my little songs," said the snowdrop.

And Barbara felt very grateful for all these homely kindnesses. She rested in the velvety snow at the foot of the pine-tree, and the vine chafed her body and limbs, and the little flower sang sweet songs to her.

      "Whirr-r-r, whirr-r-r!" There was that noisy wind again, but this time it was gentler than it had been in the city.

      "Here you are, my little Barbara," said the wind, in kindly tones. "I have brought you the little snowflake. I am glad you came away from the city, for the people are proud and haughty there; oh, but I will have fun with them!"

      Then, having dropped the little snowflake on Barbara's cheek, the wind whisked off to the city again. And we can imagine that it played rare pranks with the proud, haughty folk on its return; for the wind, as you know, is no respecter of persons.

      "Dear Barbara," said the snowflake, "I will watch with thee for the coming of the prince."

And Barbara was glad, for she loved the little snowflake, that was so pure and innocent and gentle.

      "Tell us, O pine-tree," cried the vine, "what do you see in the east? Has the prince yet entered the forest?"

      "The east is full of black clouds," said the pine-tree, " and the winds that hurry to the hill-tops sing of the snow."

      "But the city is full of brightness," said the fir. "I can see the lights in the cathedral, and I can hear wondrous music about the prince and his coming."

      "Yes, they are singing of the prince in the cathedral," said Barbara sadly.

      "But, we shall see him first, "whispered the vine reassuringly.

      "Yes, the prince will come through the forest," said the little snowdrop gleefully.

      "Fear not, dear Barbara, we shall behold the prince in all his glory," cried the snowflake.

Then all at once there was a strange hubbub in the forest; for it was midnight, and the spirits came from their hiding-places to prowl about and to disport themselves. Barbara beheld them all in great wonder and trepidation, for she had never before seen the spirits of the forest, although she had often heard of them. It was a marvelous sight.

      "Fear nothing," whispered the vine to Barbara,-- "fear nothing, for they dare not touch you."

the antics of the wood-spirits continued but an hour; for then a cock crowed, and immediately thereat, with a wondrous scurrying, the elves and the gnomes and the other grotesque spirits sought their abiding-places in the caves and in the hollow trunks and under the loose bark of the trees. And then it was very quiet once more in the forest.

      "It is very cold," said Barbara. "My hands and feet are like ice."

      Then the pine-tree and the fir shook down the snow from their broad boughs, and the snow fell upon Barbara and covered her like a white mantle.

      "You will be warm now," said the vine, kissing Barbara's forehead. And Barbara smiled.

Then the snowdrop sang a lullaby about the moss that loved the violet. And Barbara said, "I am going to sleep; will you wake me when the prince comes through the forest?"

And they said they would. So Barbara fell asleep.

      "The bells in the city are ringing merrily," said the fir, " and the music in the cathedral is louder and more beautiful than before. Can it be that the prince has already come into the city?"

      "No," cried the pine-tree, " look to the east and see the Christmas day a-dawning! The prince is coming, and his pathway is through the forest!"

      The storm had ceased. Snow lay upon all the earth. The hills, the forest, the city, and the meadows were white with the robe the storm-king had thrown over them. Content with his wondrous work, the storm-king himself had fled to his far Northern home before the dawn of the Christmas day. Everything was bright and sparkling and beautiful. And most beautiful was the great hymn of praise the forest sang that Christmas morning,-- the pine-trees and the firs and the vines and the snow-flowers that sang of the prince and of his promised coming.

      "Wake up, little one," cried the vine, "for the prince is coming!"

      But Barbara slept; she did not hear the vine's soft calling nor the lofty music of the forest.

A little snow-bird flew down from the fir-tree's bough and perched upon the vine, and caroled in Barbara's ear of the Christmas morning and of the coming of the prince. But Barbara slept; she did not hear the carol of the bird.

      "Alas!" sighed the vine, "Barbara will not awaken, and the prince is coming."

      Then the vine and the snowdrop wept, and the pine-tree and the fir were very sad.

The prince came through the forest clad in royal raiment and wearing a golden crown. Angels came with him, and the forest sang a great hymn unto the prince, such a hymn as had never before been heard on earth. The prince came to the sleeping child and smiled upon her and called her by name.

      "Barbara, my little one," said the prince, "awaken, and come with me."

      Then Barbara opened her eyes and beheld the prince. And it seemed as if a new life had come to her, for there was warmth in her body and a flush upon her cheeks and a light in her eyes that were divine. And she was clothed no longer in rags, but in white flowing raiment; and upon the soft brown hair there was a crown like those which angels wear. And as Barbara arose and went to the prince, the little snowflake fell from her cheek upon her bosom, and forthwith became a pearl more prescious than all other jewels upon earth.

      And the prince took Barbara in his arms and blessed her, and turning round about, returned with the little child unto his home, while the forest and the sky and the angels sang a wondrous song.

      The city waited for the prince, but he did not come. None knew of the glory of the forest that Christmas morning, nor of the new life that came to little Barbara.

      Come thou, dear Prince, oh, come to us this holy Christmas time! Come to the busy marts of earth, the quiet homes, the noisy streets, the humble lanes; come to us all, and with thy love touch every human heart, that we may know that love, and in its blessed peace bear charity to all mankind! by Eugene Fields.

The first half of our story.


      "Whirr-r-r! whirr-r-r! whirr-r-r!" said the wind, and it tore through the streets of the city that Christmas eve, turning umbrellas inside out, driving the snow in fitful gusts before it, creaking the rusty signs and shutters, and playing every kind of rude prank it could think of.

"How cold your breath is to-night!" said Barbara, with a shiver, as she drew her tattered little shawl the closer around her benumbed body.

      "Whirr-r-r! whirr-r-r! whirr-r-r!" answered the wind; "but why are you out in this storm? You should be at home by the warm fire."

      "I have no home," said Barbara; and then she sighed bitterly, and something like a tiny pearl came in the corner of one of her sad blue eyes.

      But the wind did not hear her answer, for it had hurried up the street to throw a handful of snow in the face of an old man who was struggling along with a basket of good things on each arm.

      "Why are you not at the cathedral?' asked a snowflake, as it alighted on Barbara's shoulder. "I heard grand music, and saw beautiful lights there as I floated down from the sky a moment ago."

      "What are they doing at the cathedral?" inquired Barbara.

      "Why, haven't you heard?'' exclaimed the snowflake. " I supposed everybody knew that the prince was coming to-morrow."

      "Surely enough; this is Christmas eve," said Barbara, "and the prince will come tomorrow."

Barbara remembered that her mother had told her about the prince, how beautiful and good and kind and gentle he was, and how he loved the little children; but her mother was dead now, and there was none to tell Barbara of the prince and his coming,-- none but the little snowflake.

"I should like to see the prince," said Barbara "for I have heard he was very beautiful and good."

"That he is," said the snowflake. "I have never seen him, but I heard the pines and the firs singing about him as I floated over the forest to-night."

      "Whirr-r-r! Whirr-r-r!" cried the wind returning boisterously to where Barbara stood. "I've been looking for you everywhere, little snowflake! So come with me."

      And without any further ado, the wind seized upon the snowflake and hurried it along the street and led it a merry dance through the icy air of the winter night.

      Barbara trudged on through the snow and looked in at the bright things in the shop windows. The glitter of the lights and the sparkle of the vast array of beautiful Christmas toys quite dazzled her. A strange mingling of admiration, regret, and envy filled the poor little creature's heart.

      "Much as I may yearn to have them, it cannot be," she said to herself, "yet I may feast my eyes upon them."

      "Go away from here!" said a harsh voice. "How can the rich people see all my fine things if you stand before the window? Be off with you, you miserable little beggar!"

      It was the shopkeeper, and he gave Barbara a savage box on the ear that sent her reeling into the deeper snowdrifts of the gutter.

      Presently she came to a large house where there seemed to be much mirth and festivity. The shutters were thrown open, and through the windows Barbara could see a beautiful Christmas-tree in the centre of a spacious room -- a beautiful Christmas tree ablaze with red and green lights, and heavy with toys and stars and glass balls and other beautiful things that children love. There was a merry throng around the tree, and the children were smiling and gleeful, and all in that house seemed content and happy. Barbara heard them singing, and their song was about the prince who was to come on the morrow.

      "This must be the house where the prince will stop, " thought Barbara. "How I would like to see his face and hear his voice! --yet what would he care for me, a 'miserable little beggar'?''

So Barbara crept on through the storm, shivering and disconsolate, yet thinking of the prince.

"Where are going?" she asked of the wind as it overtook her.

      "To the cathedral," laughed the wind. "The great people are flocking there, and I will have a merry time amongst them, ha, ha, ha!"

      And with laughter the wind whirled away and chased the snow toward the cathedral.

"It is there, then, that the prince will come," thought Barbara. "it is a beautiful place, and the peo;le will pay him homage there. Perhaps I shall see him if I go there."

      So she went to the cathedral. Many folk were there in their richest apparel, and the organ rolled out its grand music, and the songs, and the prayers were all about the prince and his expected coming. The throng that swept in and out of the great edifice talked always of the prince, the prince, the prince, until Barbara really loved him very much, for all the gentle words she heard the people say of him.

      "Please, can I go and sit inside?" inquired Barbara of the sexton.

      "No!" said the sexton gruffly, for this was an important occasion with the sexton, and he had no idea of wasting words on a beggar child.

      "But I will be very good and quiet," pleaded Barbara. "Please may I not see the prince?"

      "I have said no, and I mean it," retorted the sexton. "What have you for the prince, or what cares the prince for you? Out with you, and don't be blocking up the door-way!" So the sexton gave Barbara an angry push, and the child fell half-way down the icy steps of the cathedral. She began to cry. Some great people were entering the cathedral at the time, and they laughed to see her falling.

      "Have you seen the prince? inquired a snowflake, alighting on Barbara's cheek. It was the same little snowflake that had clung to her shawl an hour ago, when the wind came galloping along on his boisterous search.

      "Ah, no!" sighed Barbara in tears; "but what cares the prince for me?"

      "Do not speak so bitterly," said the little snowflake. "Go to the forest and you shall see him, for the prince always comes through the forest to the city."

      Despite the cold, and her bruises, and her tears Barbara smiled. In the forest she could behold the prince coming on his way; and he would not see her, for she would hide among the trees and vines.

      "Whirr-r-r, whirr-r-r!" It was the mischievous, romping wind once more; and it fluttered Barbara's tattered shawl, and set her hair to streaming in every direction, and swept the snowflake from her cheek and sent it spinning through the air.

      Barbara trudged toward the forest. When she came to the city gate the watchman stopped her, and held his big lantern in her face, and asked her who she was and where she was going.

      "I am Barbara, and I am going into the forest," said she boldly.

      "Into the forest?" cried the watchman, "and in this storm? No, child; you will perish!"

      "But I am going to see the prince," said Barbara. "They will not let me watch for him in the church, nor in any of their pleasant homes, so I am going into the forest."

      The watchman smiled sadly. He was a kindly man; he thought of his own little girl at home.

      "No, you must not go to the forest," said he, "for you would perish with the cold."

But Barbara would not stay. She avoided the watchman's grasp and ran as fast as ever she could through the city gate.

      "Come back, come back!" cried the watchman; "you will perish in the forest!"

      But Barbara would not heed his cry. The falling snow did not stay her, nor did the cutting blast. She thought only of the prince, and she ran straightway to the forest.

to be continued. . . .


      ONE Christmas eve Joel Baker was in a most unhappy mood. He was lonesome and miserable; the chimes making merry Christmas music outside disturbed rather than soothed him, the jingle of the sleigh-bells fretted him, and the shrill whistling of the wind around the corners of the house and up and down the chimney seemed to grate harshly on his ears.

      "Humph," said Joel, wearily, "Christmas is nothin' to me; there was a time when it meant a great deal, but that was long ago-- fifty years is a long stretch to look back over. There is nothin' in Christmas now, nothin' for me at least; it is so long since Santa Claus remembered me that I venture to say he has forgotten that there ever was such a person as Joel Baker in all the world. It used to be different; Santa Claus used to think a great deal of me when I was a boy. Ah! Christmas nowadays ain't what it was in the good old time -- no, not what it used to be."

      As Joel was absorbed in his distressing thoughts he became aware very suddenly that somebody was entering or trying to enter the room. First came a draught of cold air, then a scraping, grating sound, then a strange shuffling, and then, --yes, then, all at once, Joel saw a pair of fat legs and a still fatter body dangle down the chimney, followed presently by a long white beard, above which appeared a jolly red nose and two bright twinkling eyes, while over the head and forehead was drawn a fur cap, white with snowflakes.

      "Ha, ha," chuckled the fat, jolly stranger, emerging from the chimney and standing well to one side of the hearth-stone; "ha, ha, they don't have the big, wide chimneys they used to build, but they can't keep Santa Claus out! Ha, ha, ha. Though the chimney were no bigger than a gas pipe, Santa Claus would slide down it!"

      It didn't require a second glance to assure Joel that the new-comer was indeed Santa Claus. Joel knew the good old saint -- oh, yes -- and he had seen him once before, and , although that was when Joel was a little boy, he had never forgotten how Santa Claus looked. Nor had Santa Claus forgotten Joel, although Joel thought he had; for now Santa Claus looked kindly at Joel and smiled and said: "Merry Christmas to you, Joel!"

     "Thank you, old Santa Claus," replied Joel, "but I don't believe it's going to be a very merry Christmas. It's been so long since I've had a merry Christmas that I don't believe I'd know how to act if I had one."

      "Let's see," said Santa Claus, "it must be going on fifty years since I saw you last -- yes, you were eight years old the last time I slipped down the chimney of the old homestead and filled your stocking. Do you remember it?"

      "I remember it well," answered Joel. "I had mad up my mind to lie awake and see Santa Claus; I had heard tell of you, but I'd never seen you, and Brother Otis and I concluded we'd lie awake and watch for you to come."

      Santa Claus shook his head reproachfully. "That was very wrong," said he, "for I'm so scarey that if I'd known you boys were awake I'd never have come down the chimney at all, and then you'd have had no presents."

      "But Otis couldn't keep awake," explained Joel. "We talked about everythin' we could think of, till father called out to us that if we didn't stop talking he'd have to send one of us up into the attic to sleep with the hired man. So in less than five minutes Otis was sound asleep and no pinching could wake him up. But I was bound to see Santa Claus and I don't believe anything would've put me to sleep. I heard the big clock in the sitting-room strike eleven, and I had begun wonderin' if you never were going to come, when all of a sudden I heard the tinkle of the the bells around your reindeer's necks. Then I heard the reindeers prancin' on the roof and the sound of your sleigh-runners cuttin' and through the crust and slippin' over the shingles. I was kind o' scared and I covered my head up with the sheet and quilts -- only I left a little hole so I could peek out and see what was goin' on. As soon as I saw you I got over bein' scared -- for you were jolly and smilin' like, and you chuckled as you went around to each stockin' and filled it up."

      "Yes, I can remember the night," said Santa Claus. "I brought you a sled, didn't I?"

      "Yes, and you brought Otis one, too," replied Joel. "Mine was red and had 'Yankee Doodle' painted in black letters on the side; Otis's was black and had 'Snow Queen' in gilt letters."

      "I remember those sleds distinctly," said Santa Claus, "for I made them specially for you boys."

      "You set the sleds up against the wall," continued Joel, "and then you filled the stockin's."

      "There were six of 'em, as I recollect?" said Santa Claus.

      "Let me see," quired Joel. "There was mine, and Otis's, and Elvira's and Thankful's, and Susan Prickett's -- Susan was our help, you know. No, that were only five, and, as I remember, they were the biggest we could beg or borrer of Aunt Dorcas, who weighed nigh unto two hundred pounds. Otis and I didn't like Susan Prickett, and we were hopin' you'd put a cold potato in her stockin'."

      "But Susan was a good girl," remonstrated Santa Claus. "You know I put cold potatoes only in the stockin's of boys and girls who are bad and don't believe in Santa Claus."

      "At any rate," said Joel, "you filled all the stockin's with candy and pop-corn balls before you got around. Then you left each of us a book. Elvira got the best one, which was 'The Garland of Frien'ship,' and had poems in it about the bleeding of hearts, and so forth. Father wasn't expectin' anything, but you left him a new pair of mittens, and mother got a new fur boa to wear to meetin'."

      "Of course," said Santa Claus, "I never forgot father and mother."

      "Well, it was as much as I could do to lay still," continued Joel, "for I'd been longin' for a sled, an' the sight of that red sled with 'Yankee Doodle' painted on it jest made me wild. But, somehow or other, I began to get powerful sleepy all at once, and I couldn't keep my eyes open. The next thing I knew Otis was nudgin' me in the ribs. 'Git up, Joel,' says he; 'it's Chri'mas an' Santa Claus has been here.' 'Merry Chris'mas! Merry Chris'mas!' we cried as we tumbled out o' bed. Then Elvira an' Thankful came in, not more 'n half dressed, and Susan came in, too, an' we just made Rome howl with 'Merry Chris'mas! Merry Chris'mas!' to each other. 'Ef you children don't make less noise in there,' cried father, 'I'll hev to send you all back to bed.' The idea of askin' boys an' girls to keep quiet on Chris'mas mornin' when they've got new sleds an' 'Garlands of Frien'ship'!"

      Santa Claus chuckled; his rosy cheeks fairly beamed joy.

      "Otis an' I didn't want any breakfast," said Joel. "We made up our minds that a stockin'ful of candy and pop-corn and raisins would stay us for a while. I do believe there wasn't buckwheat cakes enough in the township to keep us indoors that mornin'; buckwheat cakes don't size up much 'longside of a red sled with 'Yankee Doodle' painted onto it and a black sled named 'Snow Queen.' We didn't care how cold it was -- so much the better for slidin' downhill! All the boys had new sleds -- Lafe Dawson, Bill Holbrook, Gum Adams, Rube Playford, Leander Merrick, Ezra Purple -- all on 'em had new sleds excep' Martin Peavey, and he said he calculated Santa Claus had skipped him this year 'cause his father had broke his leg haulin' logs from the Pelham woods and had been kep' in-doors six weeks. But Martin had his ol' sled, and he didn't hev to ask any odds of any of us, neither."

      "I brought Martin a sled the next Christmas," said Santa Claus.

      "Like as not-- but did you ever slide down-hill, Santa Claus? I don't mean such hills as they hev out here in this new country, but one of them old-fashioned New England hills that was made 'specially for boys to slide down, full of bumpers an' thank-ye-marms, and about ten times longer comin' up than it is goin' down! The wind blew in our faces, jist as if it was a boy, too, an' wanted to play with us. An ol' crow came flappin' over us from the cornfield beyond the meadow. He said: 'Caw, caw,' when he saw my new sled --I s'pose he'd never seen a red one before. Otis had a hard time with his sled -- the black one -- an' he wondered why it wouldn't go as fast as mine would. 'Hev you scraped the paint off'n the runners? asked Wralsey Goodnow. 'Course I hev,' said Otis; 'broke my own knife an' Lute Ingraham's a-doin' it, but it don't seem to make no dif'rence -- the darned ol' thing won't go!' Then, what did Simon Buzzell say but that, like's not, it was because Otis's sled's name was 'Snow Queen.' 'Never did see a girl sled that was worth a cent, anyway,' sez Simon. Well, now, that jest about broke Otis up in business. 'It ain't a girl sled,' sez he, 'and its name ain't "Snow Queen"! I'm a-goin' to call it "Dan'l Webster," or "Ol'ver Optic," or "Sheriff Robbins," or after some other big man!' An' the boys plagued him so much about that pesky girl sled that he scratched off the name, an', as I remember, it did go better after that!

      "About the only thing," continued Joel, "that marred the harmony of the occasion as the editor of the Hampshire County Phoenex used to say, was the ashes that Deacon Morris Frisbie sprinkled out in front of his house. He said he wasn't going to have folks breakin' their necks jest on account of a lot of frivolous boys that was goin' to the gallows as fas' as they could! Oh, how we hated him! and we'd have snowballed him, too, if we hadn't been afraid of the constable that lived next door. But the ashes didn't bother us much, and every time we slid side-saddle we'd give the ashes a kick, and that sort of scattered 'em."

      The bare thought of this made Santa Claus laugh.

      "Goin' on about nine o'clock," said Joel, "the girls come along -- Sister Elvira an' Thankful, Prudence Tucker, Belle Yocum, Sophrone Holbrook, Sis Hubbard, an' Marthy Sawyer. Marthy's brother Increase wanted her to ride on his sled, but Marthy allowed that a red sled was her choice every time. 'I don't see how I'm goin' to hold on,' said Marthy. 'Seems as if I would hev my hands full keepin' my things from blowin' away.' 'Don't worry about yourself, Marthy,' sez I, 'for if you'll look after your things, I kind o' calc'late I'll manage not to lose you on the way.' Dear Marthy-- seems as if I could see you now, with your tangled hair a blowin' in the wind, your eyes all bright and sparklin', an' your cheeks as red as apples. Seems, too, as if I could hear you laughin' an' a-callin', jist as you did as I toiled up the old New England hill that Chris'mas mornin'-- a-callin': 'Joel, Joel, Joel-- ain't ye ever comin', Joel?' But the hill is long and steep, Marthy, an Joel ain't the boy he used to be; he's old, an' gray, an' feeble, but there's love an' faith in his heart, an' they kind o'keep him totterin' tow'rd the voice he hears a-callin': 'Joel, Joel, Joel!'"

      "I know -- I see it all," murmured Santa Claus very softly.

      "Oh, that was so long ago," sighed Joel; "so very long ago! And I've had no Chris'mas since -- only once, when our little one -- Marthy's an' mine -- you remember him, Santa Claus?"

      "Yes," said Santa Claus, "a toddling little boy with blue eyes--"

      "Like his mother," interrupted Joel; "an' he was like her, too-- so gentle an' lovin', only we called him Joel, for that was my father's name and it kind o' run in the fam'ly. He wa'n't more'n three years old when you came with your Chris'mas presents for him, Santa Claus. We had told him about you, and he used to go to the chimney every night and make a little prayer about what he wanted you to bring him. And you brought 'em, too -- a stick-horse, an' a picture-book, an' some blocks, an' a drum-- they're on the shelf in the closet there, and his little Chris'mas stockin' with 'em--I've saved 'em all, an' I 've taken 'em down an' held 'em in my hands, oh, many times!"

      "But when I came again," said Santa Claus------

      "His little bed was empty, an' I was alone. It killed his mother--Marthy was so tenderhearted; she kind o' drooped an' pined after that. So now they've been asleep side by side in the buryin'-ground these thirty years.

      "That's why I'm so sad-like whenever Chris'mas comes." said Joel, after a pause. "The thinkin' of long ago makes me bitter almost. It's so different now from what it used to be."

      "No, Joel, oh, no," said Santa Claus. "'Tis the same world, and human nature is the same and always will be. But Christmas is for the little folks, and you, who are old and grizzled now, must know it and love it only through the gladness it brings the little ones."

      "True groaned Joel; "but how may I know and feel this gladness when I have no little stocking hanging in my chimney corner -- no child to please me with his prattle? See, I am alone."

      "No, you're not alone, Joel," said Santa Claus. "There are children in this great city who would love and bless you for your goodness if you but touched their hearts. Make them happy, Joel; send by me this night some gift to the little boy in the old house yonder -- he is poor and sick; a simple toy will fill his Christmas with gladness."

      "His little sister, too-- take her some presents," said Joel; "make them happy for me, Santa Claus-- you are right -- make them happy for me."

      How sweetly Joel slept! When he awoke, the sunlight streamed in through the window and seemed to bid him a merry Christmas. How contented and happy Joel felt! It must have been the talk with Santa Claus that did it all; he had never known a sweeter sense of peace. A little girl came out of the house over the way. She had a new doll in her arms, and she sang a merry little song and she laughed with joy as she skipped along the street. Ay, and at the window sat the little sick boy, and the toy Santa Claus left him seemed to have brought him strength and health, for his eyes sparkled and his cheeks glowed, and it was plain to see his heart was full of happiness.

      And oh! how the chimes did ring out, and how joyfully they sang their Christmas carol that morning! They sang of Bethlehem and the manger and the Babe; they sang of love and charity, till all the Christmas air seemed full of angel voices.

   Carol of the Christmas morn--

   Carol of the Christ-child born--

   Carol to the list'ning sky

   Till it echoes back again

   "Glory be to God on high,

   Peace on earth, good will tow'rd men!"

      So all this music -- the carol of the chimes, the sound of children's voices, the smile of the poor little boy over the way -- all this sweet music crept into Joel's heart that Christmas morning; yes, and with these sweet, holy influences came others so subtile and divine that in its silent communion with them, Joel's heart cried out amen and amen to the glory of the Christmas time.

by Eugene Field


December 24-- It is Christmas eve! The third anniversary of Lily's death. Robert is unavoidably absent-- gone a week to be gone a week longer. I sit alone and muse on the little life that blessed and brightened my three happy Christmas tides, then dropped away, almost as though it had never been. Almost as though it had never been, yet there are countless reminders of her hidden away in the house. Hidden away, for not one of them can nestle in my arms, speak to me with her voice, or touch me with the dear, soft touch of her hands.

      I have put away everything that speaks of her except the little high-chair she used at meal-time. It is Robert's fancy to have that and her tiny cup, saucer and plate carved with lilies-of-the-valley, placed between our own at table. Robert's fancy, and he has so few I have humored it under the heart-break of seeing them empty for evermore.

      Flesh and sense gasp at the silence in the house, rebel against the mocking, empty horror in the air; still, wondering dumbly were it ever otherwise.

      Do I not dream I once bore a child? I ask this; then my soul speaks, cries out in its awful agony after that other part of me wrenched away when they laid my frozen lily under the winter snows. Yes, she was mine, she was here; no dream-child, but a warm, living presence. My very own, purchased through suffering -- my only one, knitted close to body, soul, heart, brain-- the very pulse of my being, my love, my pride, my glory, torn from me in very mockery of the claims of motherhood.

      Mrs. Fluffy calls, her arms full of Christmas toys, her eyes of Christmas lights. I hate her, I hate the sound of children's voices in the street, the boys' merry shout, the girls' tuneful laugh. It pleases Mrs. Fluffy to say, "Dear me! How quiet and cozy you are here! Our house is such a hurly-burly from beginning to end, I declare I almost lose my sense. Sam's hammering from garret to cellar. little Jem's tearing 'round like mad, and even Fanny begins to know what Christmas is, and goes wild. They'll be on the watch for me at the window, I bet; and how to get these things in without their seeing me is more than I can contrive. You don't have any of this bother; you look as comfortable as an old maid. Whatever in the world have you got three chairs at the table for? Laws! And a high one at that! Did I ever!"

      She laughs-- a thoroughly silly, care-for-naught laugh--dropping some of her parcels as she does so.

      I do not answer, nor does she notice that I so not, being completely engrossed in herself and her purchases.

      She goes, and I, kneeling beside the empty chair of my dead darling, wrestle afresh with my old, ever-new grief. She too had just begun to know what Christmas is, & died with Christmas toys about her.

      "We're not rich, you know, Abbie, and can't afford to spend much on her grave just now; but suppose we put away for a year or two what we would have spent for her had she lived, and then get one of the handsomest monuments we can find."

      So said Robert while that tiny mound lay fresh under winter snows. There is a blue-and-silver purse in the drawer up-stairs . I was knitting it for him the winter we lost her-- how often her willful, fondling baby hands were tangled in its meshes! Through its unfinished thread gleam the coins that, had she been spared us, would have bought her little frocks and shoes, her dainty embroideries, books, bonbons, dolls.

      Somehow the fancy comes to me to-night, and my lonely, gnawing anguish seizes upon it, to go out and make believe buy her a new baby.

      "Oh yes, my little girl must have a Christmas doll and a tree; I must trim a tree for my darling," I say, clutching at my outdoor wraps with feverish eagerness, and leaving my supper untasted, for Ann to clear or not, as she likes.

      The cold air stings me into something like animation. I find the streets all alive with big and little people; they seem so joyous too, every one; so different from me. Christmas boughs trail on my footpath, Christmas holly burns redly overhead, my sombre garments take on strange colors in the dancing Christmas lights. I am quick to see everything that betrays the warm father and mother heart and the presence of child-treasures in the house. The gayly-painted sleds and wheelbarrows, tiny tippet-boxes, Cinderella skates, great blonde dolls, tea-tables, wash tubs, irons, dustpans, and all the paraphernalia of mimic housekeeping that goes to make up the charm of Christmas-time.

      What hurts me the most of all amid so many cruel pangs, I think, is the knowing, or rather unknowing, looks of these happy parents planning for their children's pleasure. They appear to take it quite for granted that I have stolen out under cover of darkness on bewildering burdens. I t maddens me to recognize this thought, and then remember the little chair I left sitting empty at the table.

      A large, ruddy Irishwoman, with more dolls in her arms and hugged against her broad bosom than she can very well look to, even goes so far as to indicate a bloomy brunette with her fat chin and says to me,

      "Look, only a dollar seventy-five--up at Jones'-- git one fur yours-- I warrant she'll be tickled."

      Following this blind guide I go to Jones'. I have been there before, but they so not know me. I don't mean to give trouble, but I ask in a dreamy way the price of things, and the attendant brings them and places them before me. I look at them without really seeing, and turn to others still.

      The food-natured shuffle and bustle around me, the noise and lights, tend to make me more and more confused, for I am not used to being among people since Lily died. Then, too, the eager, joyous, expectant child faces fill me with passionate pangs. So I let them go on, piling around me all the glittering trifles for a tree; and at last the heap is crowned by a great wax doll dressed for a party in rose color and white.

      "How much is this?"

      I have heard the question repeated some half dozen times; the soft musical underflow of a child's plaintive voice among the busy roll and banter of grown-up men and women's tongues; heard it unheeded like one under the influence of a narcotic; its meaning comes straight home when the blonde beauty of a child's hair straying out from the faded hood touches my listlessly dropped hands.

      "Haven't you got anything for a penny?" she asks despondently of the attendants, who are too busy with pounds to look after pence.

      "Oh, bother your penny! Go somewhere else with it. We don't want it."

The little one turns as if I had addressed her, and looks up into my face with eyes of such piteous grieving my whole soul trembles and leans out toward her.

      "Oh, give me something for a penny-- ever such a little something; I do so want a tiny bit of Christmas."

      "Go along, I tell you; what do you come in here for, anyhow? Here, out with you!" and the attendant's hands swoop down on the small shoulders peeping bare and red through slits in the thin dress. "Jim, set this youngster outside."


      It is an older girl who speaks, even more forlorn and ragged that this little transgressor; she has squeezed herself up against the wall and remained unnoticed hitherto.

      "Hah!" blusters the proprietor of the premises, coming to the rescue, not of children, but of his rights, which he firmly believed are endangered. "There's the couple of you, is there? Come to steal, have you? Out with them Jim! Let me see you here again and I'll see you in prison."

The little storm-tossed human blossom-- bearing my angel's-- baby's name, wearing also her golden drift of hair, looking at me with eyes as blue as hers-- is lifted over my listless arms, crying out as she goes,

      "I didn't, indeed I didn't come to steal! My mother's dead, and oh, I did so want a bit of Christmas!"

      The lava torrent of mocked maternal love wells hot within me in answer to that agonizing child-cry. They hustle her out, they set her poor little half-bare feet upon winter snows; but on the instant I am there beside her. I kneel on the cold pavement, I clasp her quivering form; and in this blessed moment, when I vow to shield this motherless one, so help me God, even as I would have my own Lily shielded, something of joy that thrills through heaven over a soul saved comes down into my heart.

      In the next street I find a dead woman in a cellar.

      "She was uppish-like, and rinted our fust floor when she come here six months ago; but laws! I know'd she couldn't hold on; death had her than jist as tight as her has now. You see her man he forgeried and killed hisself in prison. Then his people, they turned her off; she had none, you know. She sewed real smart, and tried to hold together for the young uns' sake, but 'twere no use at all."

      That is the history of these little ones.

      I take the oldest to a kind woman whom I know; I make arrangements fo rhte mother's burial; then I bring the little one home. I cannot help but feel selfish, thankful thrill when Ann, after washing her, says:

      "What'll you be afther puttin' on her? She's to big fur Miss Lily's clothes, though sure an' she'd a-been this big if she'd a-lived."

      Yes, I am thankful, for what it not be wrong to withhold them if their soft folds could shape themselves to these shivering limbs? Yet could I bear to see them thus?

      I take out my little pocket-book, bronze and gold--Robert's gift. I count out the sum that one hour ago I would have assigned to the blue-and-silver purse for Lily's Christmas toys, and Ann is speeding out to a furnishing-house near by for a six-year-old child's outfit; while I, wrapping my warm woollen shawl about the small thing, find myself telling her about my heaven sheltered Lily.

      She listens to me, this motherless, homeless waif, with eyes like newly-opened morning glories, and when I am done sits with one hand holding back her golden fall of hair, while her gaze rests bright and earnest on my face.

      "Of what are you thinking, little one?" I ask.

      A pious mother's lessons make the music of her speech when she answer me:

      "I am thinking that when my mother got to heaven, your little girl must have met her and told her how sorry you was, and then my mother told her all about how sorry I was; and both together they went to Jesus and told him, and he sent me here to comfort you. Don't you think so?"

      With the fire-gleams glancing on that golden head, where all was emptiness and horror, with those infant accents breaking up the awful silence of the house, with that new, strange feeling of rest and unrest, with that delicious, brooding sense of comfort, compensation, just within my grasp, no marvel that I cry, "I do, I do," and feel adown my cheeks a rush of bitter-sweet tears.

      December 28-- I can put nothing more in the blue-and-silver purse. Indeed, with the new and unexpected expense I have assumed, I am even obliged to take something out. I do not regret it. Since I waked to the knowledge that I am not the only one who struggles and suffers-- in my blindness I lost sight of this-- that even children, babes like my lost one, are not spared the chill and the agony of bereavement, and, worst still, privations of which my sheltered life knows nothing; --since, as I say, I waked to a sense of this, there comes a feeling with it, a fear, lest the pride of marble we proposed to rear above our darling would stand betwixt some young head like this and sunshine-- would glitter coldly between some fair child-mouth and daily bread.

      New Year's Eve. Robert comes to-night, this soft, white winter night. He sees close beside our Lily's chair another, not empty, but crowned with a fair child-face, golden hair and lips like a japonica bud.

      It comes upon him a surprise. I meant it should.

      "Robert," I say, half laughing, half crying, "this is Lily's monument."

      He is even better content than I to have it so.

      "Next spring," he says,"we will make of her grave such am alter of bloom and fragrance that all the bees and birds for miles around will seek it out."

      Yes," I reply; "and while our hearts sadden over her memory, let us never fail to be thankful that no glittering shaft of marble stands between us and a starving child."