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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889


By Kate Neely Festetits (b. 1837)

[Born in Warrenton, Va., 1837.]

THE HAPPY Christmas-time draws near;

Full are the hours of glad expectancy;

Dull cares and common for a while have flown,

And through the household music creeps a tone

Of hushed and hidden glee;

For still the blessed joy-time of the year

Is sacred unto thoughts of all the heart holds dear.

The children run about,

Trying vainly to keep out

The mischievous shining from their eyes

That might reveal the tale—

Full of some wonderful surprise,

Which none must venture even to surmise

Till Christmas lifts the veil.

The spirit of loving industry,

Of happy secrets, and of merry mystery,

Fills all the house, till every guarded room

With hidden flowers of love begins to bloom.

Even the little ones are busy too,

There is so much to do!

They fetch and carry, flutter here and there,

With most important air,

And choose their longest stockings out,

With never a thought of doubt,

The good Kriss Kringle’s bounty to receive.

All things they hope, all things believe;

May God keep whole

The sweet child-trust in each young, innocent soul!

The dear house-mother smiles,

And does not seem to see,

Herself entangled also in the wiles

Of Christmas mystery.

With well-feigned sober mien,

And lip and brow serene,

Her cunningest devices she applies

To slip the scrutiny of eager eyes,

And hides away upon the closet-shelf

Parcels of shape and size

That could have only come from Santa Claus himself.

The busy hum pervades

Kitchen as well as hall,

And dainties hidden from the schoolboy’s raids

Come forth in answer to the Christmas call.

Odors of spice and plum

From the far precincts come;

And sounds suggestive (now the eggs they beat,

Now chop the apples) tempt the little feet,

Brighten the laughing eyes,

And set small mouths a-watering

For Christmas cake and pies.

The blessèd day draws nigh;

The ruddy lads come in, their arms piled high

With Christmas boughs of cedar, fir, and pine,

Red-berried holly and green ivy-vine.

The incense-like perfume

Hallows each happy room;

The house is beautiful with Christmas cheer:

It is the gay time of the year!

O Christ, who on this Christmas morn,

Long years ago,

While angels sang the chime

For the first Christmas-time,

Of a poor maid wast born,

And laid’st thy kingly head

Beneath the humble shed

Where sad-eyed oxen munch the bruisèd corn,

And milch-kine for their weanlings low,—

O Christ, be pitiful this day!

Let none un-Christmased go;

Let no poor wretch in vain for help implore,

Let none from any door,

Unwarmed, unfed,

No kind word said,

Helpless, be turned away.

For thine own sake, we pray!