Christmas Builders

Dec 8, 2012 by

Christmas Builders by Charles Edward Jefferson was originally published in 1909.

Here are the first few paragraphs to give you a feel for it:

“There was trouble in the land, all on account of Christmas. Men stood bewildered and women were distracted, not knowing what to do. The trouble was that Christmas had become too small. Once there was room enough in it and to spare. Only a few of the inhabitants of the earth brought their treasures into it. But little by little the world learned of the beauty of Christmas until everybody, almost, wanted to get into it, and not only into it himself, but he wanted to bring all his
relatives and friends, every one of them laden with packages and bundles, until at last Christmas became crowded to suffocation. There was not room to turn round.

Everybody was so huddled and jostled, and there was so much scrambling and pushing, that some people quite lost their temper, and even in the palace of Christmas looked sour. It seems strange that the world should be embarrassed and really injured by a desire of people to be loving and to manifest their love by giving gifts, and yet that is the very thing which happened. Christmas became a breeder and disseminator of dark and ugly feelings. It is well enough when only a few people make up their mind to be affectionate and generous; but when everybody decides to put on the Christmas graces on the same day of the year, the world cannot stand the strain of so much goodness all at once expressed, and the result is a tragedy almost as deep and dark for many hearts as if there were no Christmas at all.

For in their eagerness to keep Christmas, men forgot the claims of brotherhood. They were so zealous to get into the enchanted palace themselves that they forgot all about their neighbors, who wanted to get in also. One cannot very well manufacture gifts himself, and therefore some one else must make them. One cannot carry gifts himself, — at least not all of them, — and therefore some one else must carry them. As Christmas was just a day and as it came only once a year, all the days preceding Christmas became frenzied and feverish, and men and women by the thousands were compelled to work so fast and through such long hours that they were not able to reach the palace at all. They had their faces in the direction of it, but they were all so jaded and out of breath that when the palace came in sight they had not energy sufficient to enjoy the beauty of it, and could only look on half dazed and be numbed at the more fortunate mortals who had been able to get inside of its golden doors.

Letter-carriers, knowing by experience what Christmas really was, began to lament long before the month of December came, seeing in their imagination the huge bundles of letters and papers and packages which must be carried up the crowded roadway of the days which led to the Christmas palace. Expressmen also never spoke enthusiastically of Christmas, but scowled at the mere mention of it, as though it were a prison instead of a palace, a sort of punishment which was inexorably instilled on them at the end of every year.”

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