Wednesday, December 25, 2013

And lays the Shepherd's crock beside the sceptre, 1867

We present the customary compliments of the day to our friends and wish them "a merry Christmas."  This great anniversary of an event that gave spur to civilization, and implanted in the breast of man the seeds of Christianity, and the hope of resurrection and eternal happiness through the atonement of the Saviour, has been handed down through long generations as a day of jubilee.  It has not only had the sacred rites of the church, with the solemn exercises and sublime canticles provided for the celebration of the most marked occurrence in the march of Time, but it has been given up to festivity and general enjoyment.  The Yule log and the Christmas tree, and the foaming tankard and, the abandon, which dispenses with rank and caste,

"And lays the Shepherd's crock beside the sceptre,"

Were the observances of our Anglo-Saxon ancestors.  Different countries and people have had different customs, but they were all founded on the one great principle of honoring the day on which the heavens and earth were brought nearer together through Him who was sent as an example to mankind of meekness, of forbearance, of justness, and endurance under the most poignant suffering.  In our country the old paternal roof-tree bends over the gathered familiar clustered around the winter fire, or partaking of the feast at the old family board.  Alas! within a few years how many seats have been left without a tenant; how many tearful memories have been mingled with the once cheerful meeting when the old and the young were all there, and the cup of sorrow had not mixed its bitterness with the sweetened chalice of joy!  "Christmas gift!" is the first salutation of the morn, and the suspended hose are speedily examined by budding childhood to gather the gifts of the beneficent St. Nicholas, or "Santa Claus" as he is universally recognized by the young.  With the approach of dawn the busy housewife is up and stirring, and the music of spoon and dish, announcing the forthcoming egg-nog, is heard in lively clatter.  The mince pies and crulls and doughnuts have been the products of previous days, and crown the festive board.  There is universal glee, Old and young mingle in one stream of delight.  Who would deny this gleam of happiness?  We are entering on a fearful season, and "we have the poor always with us."  Should not those who have yet the gifts of fortune, remember that "whoso giveth to the poor, lendeth to the Lord?"  One of the rounds of the ladder to Heaven is Charity.  While the feast is spread and the glowing grate gives forth its genial warmth, let it not escape the memory that there are those on whose hearths the embers are cold, and whose humble tables may not boast of even a meager meal.  It is difficult to set aside old usages, and there will yet be squandered in trifles, much that might be converted to good, and what recollection could be more agreeable than to know that a gleam of sunshine has been thrown on a sorrowing heart, and the pangs of penury have been spirited away by a timely gift!
Originally posted in the Memphis Daily Appeal Dec 25 1867

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