Thursday, December 01, 2011

What to give to the Strugglehards (vintage clipping)

"Of course you have got cousin Sophia Strugglehard on your list?" asked John changing the subject.
"Oh, yes," answered Kitty briskly.

"What are you going to send her?"

"Well," hesitated Kitty, "I have bought her a couple of pretty handkerchiefs."

"Two for a quarter ?" queried John relentlessly.

"Now, John, you are too bad," began Kitty.

"No, I am not," answered he indignantly. "If ever anybody needed something pretty and bright she does, shut up in that dull country town with herflock of little children, and not a cent for anything beyond clothes and food. Think how one of your plush banners or painted easels would brighten her shabby parlor, while in Aunt Easymoney's it is simply one thing more too many."

"Yes, but you know, John," said Kitty eagerly, "she often says she wishes people would not send her handsome presents for she can't make any in return."

"Give and take again," answered John, "but don't you suppose a pretty bit of your own work done for love's sake, would hurt her pride less than the two cheap handkerchiefs given, as she knows as well as you do, just to 'give her something ?'"

"I wish you wouldn't say anything more, John," said Kitty disconsolately, " I think Christmas presents are dreadful anyway, and I shall be glad when it is over with."

"The trouble is not with the Christmas presents, my dear, but with the way you make them. The finest things must be given to the richest people because anything else will seem shabby, and because they give handsome things themselves. There is no affection about it. And the presents themselves, look at the heap of trash that gathers in our parlor Christmas week. Ornaments that keep me a week putting up and buying fixtures for, embroidered nonsense of all kinds, things of no possible use nor comfort, to be brushed up, or picked up, or nailed up for the whole year, till they are faded or broken. When I think of the money that goes into them and the care and bother that must go after them, I feel as Kitty does, Christmas is a burden and a bore. It is too bad to have such a beautiful custom spoiled. No, girls, don't waste eyes and time making something nobody wants just to give something. Give to people because you love them, and give them something they want. If they have so much that you must rack your brains to find something they have not got, for mercy's sake don't burden them with anything more. Give food and clothing to some perishing child in their name and tell them of it. Do anything but take all the heart and the blessedness out of the beautiful Christmas time. Remember who gave Himself, not to the rich and full, but to the poor and perishing, and let us keep our Christmas comfort not smother it under bric-a-brac and embroidery."  —Mary Blake.
(Good Housekeeping, 1886)

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