BOOK OF CHRISTMAS - online book

The Customs, Ceremonies, Traditions, Superstitions, Fun, Feeling,
And Festivities Of The Christmas Season.

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Now if this suggestion was full of grave meaning, in the days of Jonson,—when the respectable old man was, for the most part, well received and liberally feasted,—when he fed, with his laugh­ing children, at the tables of princes, and took tribute at the hands of kings,—when he showed, beneath the snows of his reverend head, a portly countenance (the result of much revelling), an eye in which the fire was unquenched, and a frame from which little of the lustihood had yet departed,—we confess that we feel its import to be greatly heightened in these our days, when the patriarch himself exhibits undeniable signs of a failing nature, and many of his once rosy sons are evidently in the different stages of a common decline. A fine and a cheerful family the had: and never came they within any man's door, with­out well repaying the outlay incurred on their account. To us, at all times, their " coming was a gladness;"—and we feel that we could not, without a pang, see their honest and familiar faces rejected from our threshold, with the knowledge that the course of their wanderings could not return them to us under a period so protracted as that of twelve whole months.
In that long space of time, besides the uncertainty of what may happen to ourselves, there is but too much reason to fear, that, unless a change for the better should take place, some one or more of the neglected children may be dead. We could not but have apprehensions that the group might never return to us entire. Death has already made much havoc amongst them, since the days of Ben Jonson. Alas, for Baby cocke ! and wo is me for Poet-and-paire! And, although Carol, and Minced-pie, and New-year's Gift, and Wassail, and Twelfth-cake, and some others of the children, appear still to be in the enjoyment of a tolerably vigorous health, yet we are not a little anxious about Snap-dragon, and our mind is far from being easy on the subject of Hot-cockles. It is but too obvious that, one by one, this once numerous and pleasant family are falling away ; and, as the old man will assuredly not survive his children, we may yet, in our day, have to join in the heavy lamentation of the lady, at the sad result of the above " Hue and Cry."—" But is old, old, good old Christmas gone ?—nothing but the hair of his good, grave old head and beard left!"—For these reasons, he and his train shall be wel-
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