25 Days of Christmas: Day 15 ~ Christmas Poems

From William Shakespeare to Robert Frost, some of the most notable poets in history have written about Christmas.

The Holly and the Ivy

(In English lore, holly and ivy were often personified as male and female, which made them popular topics for carols. In the words to this carol, however – which reads wonderfully as a poem – the holly represents the Virgin Mary, while the berry stands for the infant Jesus.)

The holly and the ivy,
when they are both full grown,
Of all the trees that are in the wood,
The holly bears the crown.

The rising of the sun,
And the running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ,
Sweet singing in the choir.

The holly bears a blossom,
As white as the lily flower,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ,
To be our sweet Savior.

The holly bears a berry,
As red as any blood,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ,
To do poor sinners good.

The holly bears a prickle,
As sharp as any thorn,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ,
On Christmas day in the morn.

The holly bears a bark,
As bitter as any gall,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ,
For to redeem us all.

The holly and the ivy,
When they are both full grown,
Of all the trees that are in the wood,
The holly bears the crown.

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

(The author of this poem is, unfortunately, unknown. Simple and beautiful, “Merry Christmas, Everyone!” provides a memorable picture of childhood innocence and anticipation at Christmas time.)

In the rust of the merry morning,
When the red burns through the gray,
And the wintry world lies waiting,
For the glory of the day,
Then we hear a fitful rushing,
Just without upon the stair,
See two white phantoms coming,
Catch the gleam of the sunny hair.

Rosy feet upon the threshold,
Eager faces peeping through,
With the first red ray of sunshine,
Changing cherubs come in view;
Mistletoe and gleaming holly,
Symbols of a blessed day,
In their chubby hands they carry,
Streaming all along the way.

Well we know them, never weary,
Of their innocent surprise;
Waiting, watching, listening always,
With full hearts and tender eyes,
While our little household angels,
White and golden in the Sun,
Greet us with the sweet old welcome
– “Merry Christmas, everyone!”

Christmas Lights

Bright Christmas stars shine on high, Golden stars in the wint’ry sky; Christmas candles in windows brought, Send a greeting into the night; While in our hearts the Christmas flame, Glows with a love like His who came, The infant Christ of lowly birth, To bring good will and peace to earth. (Marie Irish)

Merry Christmas

I like Christmas day, with its wreaths of holly, I like Santa Claus, with his smile so jolly; I like the Christmas tree, Shining straight and tall, And my pretty presents, I surely like them all. I like the smiles and cheer, An how I like to hear, The happy people say “Merry Christmas” in such a pleasant way. (Marie Irish)

(Jeffrey, Yvonne; The Everything Family Christmas Book)

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25 Days of Christmas: Day 14 ~ “Yes, Virginia…”

…There Is a Santa Claus

Editor Francis P. Church’s letter to Virginia O’Hanlon is one of the most touching written demonstrations of the importance in believing in what cannot be seen, touched, or proven. The letter originally appeared in the September 21, 1897 edition of the New York Sun. More than a century later, it remains a classic.

We take pleasure in answering at once and thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of the Sun:

Virginia_Santa_Claus“Dear Editor, I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say this is no SANTA CLAUS. Papa says “If you see it in the Sun it’s so..” Please tell me the truth, is there a SANTA CLAUS?”

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Clause! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Clause. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there.

Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what make the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest many, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernatural beauty and glory beyond. It is all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! He lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Garland1-1

Francis Pharcellus Church (1839-1906) was one of the editorial writers at the New York Sun when he wrote this letter. He was a veteran writer and editor, having covered the Civil War for the New York Times. He also came from a publishing family: Both his father and his brother founded newspapers and magazines.

 

Halloween of Yesteryear

This is such a cute story of memories from yesteryear, I had to share.  It originally posted in “Good Old Days” magazine in October 2008, p.13.  Full credit goes to the author, Reita Jackson.

The Ghostly Bicyclist

“Mom and Dad had a knack for making every holiday special, and Halloween was no exception.  My siblings and I grew up in the 1950’s in the small town of Perkinston, Miss.  Times seemed much simpler then, and most of our activities centered around the family and our close neighbors.  For us, holidays were much anticipated and filled with traditions, many of which I continue today.

The week of Halloween, Daddy brought home the biggest and brightest orange pumpkin ever.  We always thought each year’s pumpkin outshone the previous year’s.  With us kids watching every flick of his knife, he cut away the top of the pumpkin and scooped out the pulp and seeds. (Mom would save the pulp to make a pumpkin pie.)

Then he carved a triangular nose and eyes and added snaggled teeth in a huge smile.  When Daddy finished carving, we’d all troop out to the porch and watch as he lit the candle and replaced the lid.  The grinning result delighted us to no end.

Even as young as age 6, we were all allowed to walk down our street trick-or-treating while Mom and Dad and the youngest kids stayed home to welcome the trick-or-treaters there.  We got the best treats back then; homemade popcorn balls, cookies, fruit, sometimes a quarter – even Mardi Gras beads!

We knew the people in each of the homes we visited, and before doling out our treats, each of them pretended to guess who we might be. Our costumes were never more elaborate than a sheet over our heads for a ghost, a tall pointed hat and a black dress for a witch, or old, patched clothes for a hobo.

Some time after we returned home and the last trick-or-treater had gone, Mom would call to us with some pretense that would get us all outside.  At the time we thought nothing of it, but years later, we had many good laughs over our broom-riding ghost!

Daddy would appear from out of the darkness, riding a broom like the most desperate of cowboys, but with a sheet billowing out all around him as he made the most ghostly sounds we had ever heard.

My youngest sister would take one look and run lickety-split for the house, her feet barely touching the ground.  We always found her balled up tightly in the middle of her bed.

As for the rest of us, our hair would practically stand on end with fear, but we weren’t quite scared enough to run away.  Probably we knew deep down that it was Dad, but at the moment he came riding up to us like a demon, circling us and cackling, we forgot to think, and we just stood, paralyzed, for the few seconds he was there.

Just as quickly, the ghost disappeared, and we trooped inside with our tales of ghosts and witches.  We’d find Dad sitting in his easy chair or drinking a glass of water in the kitchen, seemingly untouched by the pandemonium that had just broken out in his front yard.

Some things have changed over the years.  Children rarely trick-or-treat without their parents; homemade treats are now looked at with suspicion; and there are far scarier things out there than broom-riding ghosts.  But the magic of Halloween is still very much alive, just as it was back in the Good Old Days.”