"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store.
Maybe Christmas might mean a little bit more."
There is a legend that at midnight on Christmas Eve, animals acquire the gift of
speech and begin to speak to one another, exchanging secrets about humans; but
only children can hear them.  Associated with this was a belief that, at midnight, the
farm cattle would kneel in the stable to worship the Infant Jesus.
Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock; "Now they are all on their knees,"
An elder said as we sat in a flock by the embers in hearthside ease.
We pictured the meek mild creatures where they dwelt in their strawy pen,
Nor did it occur to one of us there to doubt they were kneeling then.
So fair a fancy few would weave in these years!  Yet, I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve, "Come, see the oxen kneel
In the lonely barton by yonder coomb, our childhood used to know,"
I should go with him in the gloom, just hoping it might be so.

-- Thomas Hardy
Lo, now is come the joyful'st feast! Let every man be jolly.
Eache roome with yvie leaves is drest, and every post with holly.
Now all our neighbours' chimneys smoke and Christmas blocks are burning;
Their ovens they with bak't meats choke, and all their spits are turning.
Without the door let sorrow lie, and if, for cold, it hap to die,
We'll bury't in a Christmas pye, and evermore be merry.
The next six rhymes are excerpts from English folksongs of the 17th & 18th centuries.

Now Christmas is come, let us beat up the drum.
And call all our neighbours together
And when they appear, let us make them such cheer
As will keep out the wind and the weather.
Now trees their leafy hats do bare to reverence Winter's silver hair,
A handsome hostess, merry host, a pint of ale now, and a toast,
Tobacco and a good coal fire, are things this season doth require!
At Christmas be merry, and thankful withall,
And feast thy good neighbours, the great and the small.
A man might then behold at Christmas, in each hall,
Good fires to curb the cold, and meat for great and small.
Come bring with a noise, my merrie, merrie boyes,
The Christmas log to the firing,
And laugh with us and sup with us,
And remain to your heart's desiring.
-- Dr. Seuss, from "How the Grinch Stole Christmas"
I sometimes think we expect too much of Christmas Day.  We try to crowd into it
the long arrears of kindliness and humanity of the whole year.  As for me, I like to
take my Christmas a little at a time, all through the year.  And thus, I drift along into
the holidays--let them overtake me unexpectedly--waking up some fine morning and
suddenly saying to myself, "Why this is Christmas Day!"

-- Ray Stannard Baker
Then peace was spread throughout the land;
The lion fed beside the tender lamb;
And with the kid, to pasture led,
The spotted leopard fed;
In peace, the calf and bear,
The wolf and lamb reposed together there.

Excerpt from "Christmas Carol" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Everywhere, everywhere, Christmas tonight!
Christmas in lands of the fir-tree and pine,
Christmas in lands of the palm-tree and vine,
Christmas where snow peaks stand solemn and white,
Christmas where cornfields stand sunny and bright,
Christmas where peace, like a dove in his flight,
Broods o're brave men in the thick of the fight;
Everywhere, everywhere, Christmas tonight!

-- Phillips Brooks
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