My Dear Parents: We had such a glorious Christmas morning—clear, clean white snow lying on the earth and on all, even the little branches of the trees. You know, Mamma, the great square garden back of the house. Every little tree there was glittering like fairy frost work. We all hung our stockings up the night before, and at breakfast examined our presents. I had lovely things—a beautiful prayer-book bound in purple velvet from Grandmamma, and a charming necklace of pearls from Uncle Israel, and a scarlet cloak trimmed with lace from Aunt Deborah, and a beautiful Chinese fan from cousin Alfred. Aunty has been putting up the usual Christmas bundle for you; so you will all share my prosperity.

I was waked in the morning by the old North chimes, which played all sorts of psalm tunes and seemed to fill the air with beautiful thoughts. It was very sweet to me to think of what it was all about. It is not necessary to believe that our Saviour really was born this very day of all others; but that he was born on some day we all know. So when we walked to church together, and the church was like one green bower, and the organ played, and the choir sung, it seemed as if all there was in me was stirred. I never heard the Te Deum before, and how glorious, how wonderful it is! It took me up to the very gates of heaven. I felt as if I was hearing the angels sing; and when I thought of the prophets, the apostles, the martyrs, and the holy church of Christ throughout the world, I felt that I was one with them, and was happy to be one drop in that great ocean of joy. For though I was only a little one I felt in it, and with it, and a part of it, and all the joy and glory was mine. I trembled with happiness.

When the communion service came I went with Grandmamma and knelt at the altar. It seemed as if Christ himself was there giving me the bread and the wine. I never felt so near to Him. After church I went home. I was so full that I could not speak. No one else seemed to feel as I did—they were all used to it—but it was all new and wonderful to me, and made heavenly things so real that I felt almost averse to coming back to every day life. I wanted to go alone to my room and dwell on it. There was quite a company invited to dinner, and I did not feel like joining them, but I knew Aunty wanted me to make myself agreeable, and so I tried my best, and after a while took my part in the conversation, as gay as the rest of them. Only once in a while some of those noble words I had been hearing came back to me with a sudden thrill, and would bring tears to my eyes even while I was gayest.

Cousin Alfred noticed that I was feeling very much about something, and in the evening when we were alone for a few minutes he asked me about it, and then I told him all how the service affected me, and made me feel. He looked a little surprised at first, and then he seemed thoughtful; and when I said, "I should think those who hear and say such glorious things at church, ought to live the very noblest lives, to be perfect Christians," he said, "Cousin, I am sorry to say, it is not so with me. We hear these things from childhood; we hear them Sunday after Sunday, in all sorts of moods, and I'm afraid many of us form a habit of not really thinking how much they mean. I wish I could hear our service as you have done, for the first time, and that it would seem as real and earnest to me as it does to you."

We talked a good deal after this; he has a deep, thoughtful mind, and I wish you, my dear Father, could talk with him. I know you will like him. Isn't it pleasant to find relations that one can like and esteem so much? Cousin Alfred is like a brother to me already, and to-morrow we are going out to explore the antiquities of Boston. He seems as much interested in them as I do.

Dear Parents, this Christmas puts me in mind of the time years ago when they dressed the little church in Poganuc, and I ran away, over to the church, and got asleep under a great cedar-bush, listening to the Christmas music. It affected me then just as it has done now. Is it not beautiful to think we are singing words that Christians have been singing for more than a thousand years! It gives you the feeling of being in a great army—one of a great host; and for a poor little insignificant thing like me it is a joyful feeling.

You ought to see how delighted Aunt Deborah is that I take so kindly to the prayer-book and the service. She gives me little approving nods now and then, and taps me on the shoulder in a patronizing way and says there is good blood in my veins, for all I was brought up a Presbyterian! This is all very well, but when she goes to unchurching all our churches and saying there are no ordained ministers in the United States except the few in Episcopal pulpits, I am dreadfully tempted to run a tilt with her, though I know it would do no earthly good. I believe I should do it, however, if Cousin Alfred did not take up the argument on our side, and combat her so much better than I could that I am content to let her alone. She tells him that he is no Englishman and no churchman, but a very radical; and he tells her that he came to America to learn to use his common sense and get rid of old rubbish!

For all this they are excellent friends, and dear old Grandmamma always takes our part because she is so afraid Aunt Debby will hurt my feelings, though Aunty says that in her heart Grandmamma is a regular old Tory.

I asked Grandma about this one day, when we were alone, and she said she always loved and honored the king and royal family, and was grieved when they stopped praying for them in the churches. If she was a Tory she was so from love, and it is quite charming to hear her talk about the old times.

It seems to me no great change ever comes on this earth without grieving some good people.

But it is past midnight and I must not sit up writing any longer. Dear parents, I wish you a happy Christmas!

Your loving


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