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 Holiday Gift Giving

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Aaron
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Location: : Connecticut
Registration date : 2007-01-24

PostSubject: Holiday Gift Giving   Tue Dec 23, 2008 10:54 am

"There are worlds of money wasted, at this time of year, in getting things that nobody wants, and nobody cares for after they are got." ~Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1850

For those of you that think materialism is a new concept to the Christmas season think again. The following story was written in 1850.

Quote :
Christmas; Or, the Good Fairy
by Harriet Beecher Stowe

“Oh, Dear! Christmas is coming in a fortnight, and I have got to think up presents for everybody!” said young Eleanor Stuart, as she leaned languidly back in her chair. “Dear me, it’s so tedious! Everybody has got everything that can be thought of.”

“Oh, no,” said her confidential advisor, Miss Lester, in a soothing tome. “You have means of buying everything you can fancy; and when every shop and store is glittering with all manner of splendors, you cannot surely be at a loss.”

“Well, now, just listen. To begin with, there’s mamma. What can I get for her? I have thought of ever so many things. She has three card cases, four gold thimbles, two or three gold chains, two writing desks of different patterns; and then as to rings, brooches, boxes, and all other things, I should think she might be sick of the sight of them. I am sure I am,” said she, languidly gazing on her white and jeweled fingers.

This view of the case seemed rather puzzling to the advisor, and there was silence for a few minutes, when Eleanor, yawning, resumed:

“And then there’s cousins Jane and Mary; I suppose they will be coming down on me with a whole load of presents; and Mrs. B. will send me something — she did last year; and then there’s cousins William and Tom — I must get them something; and I would like to do it well enough, if I only knew what to get.”

“Well,” said Eleanor’s aunt, who had been sitting quietly rattling her knitting needles during this speech, “it’s a pity that you had not such a subject to practice on as I was when I was a girl. Presents did not fly about in those days as they do now. I remember, when I was ten years old, my father gave me a most marvelously ugly sugar dog for a Christmas gift, and I was perfectly delighted with it, the very idea of a present was so new to us.”

“Dear aunt, how delighted I should be if I had any such fresh, unsophisticated body to get presents for! But to get and get for people that have more than they know what to do with now; to add pictures, books, and gilding when the center tables are loaded with them now, and rings and jewels when they are a perfect drug! I wish myself that I were not sick, and tired with having everything in the world given to me.”

“Well, Eleanor,” said her aunt, “if you really do want unsophisticated subjects to practice on, I can put you in the way of it. I can show you more than one family to whom you might seem to be a very good fairy, and where such gifts as you could give with all ease would seem like a magic dream.”

“Why, that would really be worth while, aunt.”

“Look over in that back alley,” said her aunt. “You see those buildings?”

“That miserable row of shanties? Yes.”

“Well, I have several acquaintances there who have never been tired of Christmas gifts or gifts of any other kind. I assure you, you could make quite a sensation over there.”

“Well, who is there? Let us know.”

“Do you remember Owen, that used to make your shoes?”

“Yes, I remember something about him.”

“Well, he has fallen into a consumption, and cannot work anymore; and he, and his wife, and three little children live in one of the rooms.”

“How do they get along?”

“His wife takes in sewing sometimes, and sometimes goes out washing. Poor Owen! I was over there yesterday; he looks thin and wasted, and his wife was saying that he was parched with constant fever, and had very little appetite. She had, with great self-denial, and by restricting herself almost of necessary food, got him two or three oranges; and the poor fellow seemed so eager after them.’

“Poor fellow!” said Eleanor, involuntarily.

“Now,” said her aunt, “suppose Owen’s wife should get up on Christmas morning and find at the door a couple of dozen of oranges, and some of those nice white grapes, such as you had at your party last week; don’t you think it would make a sensation?”...

You can read on here.

santa

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