22 December 2006

CHRISTMAS BOOK REVIEW: American Christmases

These are short excerpts from diaries and letters (and even some poetry), compiled by Joanne Martell, from a short account of Christmas at Jamestown to a letter from an American soldier serving in Iraq. There are several accounts of the "new" Christmas customs of decorating trees and waiting for Santa Claus, and very many journal entries and letters home (and some bits from memoirs) of Christmas during various wars, going back to the Revolutionary War.

Nice for bedside reading before Christmas. Illustrated with Thomas Nast magazine illustrations.

The final entry says quite a lot in a few verses:
Touch Hands
William H. H. Murray

Ah friends, dear friends, as years go on
     and heads get gray, how fast the guests do go!
Touch hands, touch hands, with those that stay.
Strong hands to weak, old hands to young,
     around the Christmas board, touch hands.
The false forget, the foe forgive,
     for every guest will go and every fire burn low
     and cabin empty stand.
Forget, forgive, for who may say that Christmas day
     may ever come to host or guest again.
Touch hands!

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