MoboReader > Literature > Lazy Thoughts of a Lazy Girl / Sister of that Idle Fellow.""

   Chapter 6 ON CHRISTMAS.

Lazy Thoughts of a Lazy Girl / Sister of that Idle Fellow."" By Jenny Wren Characters: 9189

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03

It is such a prickly time. Not only everything but everybody is positively bristling with prickles. Go where you will, you cannot avoid these pointed, jagged edges. You come across them everywhere, and have to suffer accordingly.

To begin with, there is the holly. Now you could not find anything lovelier in the way of foliage than holly, only such a little suffices. At Christmas time you are literally saturated with it. In every house you enter, in everything you eat, at every step you take, nothing but holly, holly, holly.

Then there are the Church decorations, begun generally a week beforehand. All the ladies of the place assemble in the vestry, attracted there by divers reasons. Some, by the desire to have a finger in every pie; some, because it is an opportunity to meet the curates; and some, but a very few, from real love of the work. I cannot understand these latter, I must confess. It is the most disagreeable work I have ever undertaken. Such dirty work, too! Your hands or your gloves grow perfectly black under the operation; and it is a curious thing, that when this stage is reached, your nose invariably begins to itch, and you forget the condition of your fingers, and-well, the result is anything but becoming! It is so comfortable, too, walking about the vestry, isn't it? The holly grows so affectionate to your ankles, and at every step squash goes a berry, and all its middle oozes out and sticks to the sole of your boot. When you go home, you find you are at least an inch taller by reason of the many corpses of berries you have collected!

Yes, Christmas decorations are delightful altogether. And so the clergymen think, when they become excited in their sermons, and bring their fists down sharply on some charming arrangement of holly round the pulpit. They do not actually swear then, but their faces express sufficiently all they would like to say; it rather spoils the effect of the discourse, especially if the text be on the virtue of patience.

As I said before, everybody is prickly at Christmas time, especially one's relations. And so, to make the season as festive as possible, we, in our sensible way, collect as many of these cheerful, sociable beings together as we can; and, in short, make a delightful family party. Holly? it is an insult to the tree to compare it in any way. No, I think the whole gathering resembles a hedgehog more than anything else. It is one mass of prickles. Ah, these happy family parties! Is there ever one member that agrees with another, I wonder?

There is the crabbed old maiden aunt, always on the defensive, never without the idea that someone is waging war against her. Yet she has to be treated civilly, and humored. Has she not that which some people term "filthy lucre," but never really think so? Have these old ladies ever had any youth? Have they ever danced and enjoyed themselves like other people? What has made them so sour, so bitter? Is it disappointment or regret? Poor old souls! In spite of their money, they never seem happy. They are to be pitied, I think, though they do try to make themselves as disagreeable as possible. They are so independent, too, they will not be interfered with. They know everything better than any one else. One old lady I used to know declined altogether to have a lawyer, insisting on making her will herself. It was found afterwards, fortunately not too late, that she had appointed herself her own executor!

Then there is the maternal grandmother; to whom, of course, the host is openly rude. This wears you out more than anything, for you have always to be ready to smooth over and soften every sentence that is said. And she never helps you at all, either. If she can possibly put her foot in it, and unconsciously irritate her son-in-law more than ever, she does it.

Then the uncle who spends his life in making the most villainous puns you ever heard. Not a remark, not a word in any assembly, which this witty specimen of humanity does not at once garnish with a pun of the poorest description. It generally has to be repeated twice, too, for it is never noticed the first time. The poor pun, indeed, has a most melancholy existence, for it is greeted with no other applause than that emanating from the author of its being, and stirs up a torrent of abuse from the maiden aunt, who thinks the laughter is directed at her.

Why were punsters ever invented, or family parties either? They are our thorns in the flesh, I suppose, and so must be endured.

After dancing attendance upon these lively old people during the day, the least

you expect is a good night's rest to support and invigorate you for the battles on the following day. But no, at Christmas time any repose is denied you.

You are just off to sleep, forgetful of all troubles and strife, when you are rudely awakened and brought back to the present by the most awful screechings under your window. Morpheus flies, he has a musical ear has that god, and when once, "Oh, come let us adore him," with a concertina accompaniment, both voices and instrument woefully out of tune; when once these harmonious strains have started, that good old deity goes, to return no more that night.

Where does the pleasure come in, I wonder? Certainly not to us fuming inside; and surely not to those poor deluded people squalling outside! It must be so cold, so raw; and they never get appreciated, these so-called "waits"-oh, if they only would not wait, but go away somewhere else, how much more satisfactory for us all!

No, Christmas is not a soothing time. It does not altogether improve your temper. How glad I am when the festive season draws to a close, and the last petitioner for Christmas-boxes goes on his way rejoicing. To me it always realizes that period so often referred to by the lower classes, "a month o' Sundays." So much church and so few posts!

It certainly is a little more interesting when the presents come in. There is a kind of excitement about them; and it is not until the following day, when you find yourself with a dozen letters of gratitude to indite, that you feel that perhaps, after all, you might have done without them.

There is nothing so annoying as being obliged to write letters when you do not feel inclined. It is a great art, this letter writing, and very few possess it. People often think they do, and they write for writing's sake; but these letters are most wearying to read. Between every line you seem to see the words, "Is not this a charming letter?" and in reality you are so bored it is all you can do to reach the end. Then those dreadful persons who "cross and recross" their epistles in every direction! Paper is not so dear but that they could at least afford a fly-leaf. They defeat their own ends, too, for their letters are never legible, and they have to write again to explain their meaning, thus paying another penny away in postage.

Why do we not make a stand against the old forms? Why should we always tread in the footmarks of our ancestors, instead of making tracks of our own? "Dear Mr. So-and-So," we write to a man almost a stranger to us. Imagine his surprise if we addressed him so to his face! And we end in just such a foolish and unreasonable way, "Yours obediently, faithfully, truly!" Where is the sense? Your signature should be quite enough. You have to be so careful, too, in saying whether you are obedient, faithful, or affectionate to your correspondent. If you end too warmly, by mistake, the whole letter has to be written again. It is not a thing you can scratch out or correct. It would look so very bad.

People have different ideas of "Christmasing." Some prefer to adopt an unsteady gait, and to spend the night in a ditch or a police-station; some have a taste for family parties; some like it better by themselves, and some go right away and spend the time at a different place every year. These last are, I think, by far the most sensible. It is a mistake to have land-marks to remind you how time is running on, how friends have left, how the loved ones have passed away. The vacant place appears even more empty. The old happy times show out even happier in contrast to the present. You cannot enjoy yourself or forget the past, for

"A sorrow's crown of sorrow is remembering happier things."

It is far better to go away somewhere to places which recall no sorrows or recollections and have no associations with the years gone by.

He is growing such a foolish old man is Father Christmas. He rarely visits us now with hoary head, his garments sparkling with frost and snow. He is tired of all that. He likes a change of fashion, like everybody else. He either comes so thickly enveloped in yellow fog that you can scarcely distinguish the old man, or else he arrives so drenched with rain and splashed up to the beard in mud that we scarcely like to open our doors to him.

He is growing old, I suppose, and trembling on the brink of second childhood, so we must not blame him. But still he is not a very great favorite of mine, and I cannot refrain from echoing the complaint in one of the comic papers-"Why doesn't he strike, like the rest?"

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