Page:Our American Holidays - Christmas.djvu/194

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166
CHRISTMAS

from Asia, from America, North and South, and even from distant Australia; it is not that amongst us, as long ago with the Franklin in Chaucer, that at this time —

“It snowës in our house
Of meate and drinke;”

it is not that we have huge loads of beef chines, ribs, sirloins, legs, necks, breasts, and shoulders of mutton, fillets of veal, whole hogs, and pigs in various stages, from the tender suckling to the stiff- jointed father of a family, whose “back hair” makes good clothes-brushes, and whose head is brought in at college feasts; it is not that the air gives up its choicest fowl, and the waters yield their best fish: plentiful as these are with us, they are nothing in profusion to the kindly greeting and good wishes that fly about in the cold weather, and that circulate from land’s end to land’s end. The whole coast of England is surrounded by a general “shake hands.” The coast-guard on their wintry walks do not greet each other more surely than old friends all over England do: one clasps another, and another a third, till from Dover to London and so on to York, from Yarmouth on the east to Bristol on the west, from John O’Groat’s house at the extreme north to the Land’s End, the very toe-nail of England on the south—a kindly greeting, we may be sure, will pass.