Page:Our American Holidays - Christmas.djvu/223

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not too plainly to touch the heart. For some hearts grew cold and forbidding with selfish cares—some, warm as ever in their own generous glow, were touched by the chill of Fortune's frowns, ever worst to bear when suddenly succeeding her smiles—some, to rid themselves of painful regrets, took refuge in forgetfulness, and closed their eyes to the past—duty banished some abroad, and duty imprisoned others at home—estrangements there were, at first unconscious and unintended, yet erelong, though causeless, complete—changes were wrought insensibly, invisibly, even in the innermost nature of those who being friends knew no guile, yet came thereby at last to be friends no more—unrequited love broke some bonds—requited love relaxed others—the death of one altered the conditions of many—and so—year after year—the Christmas Meeting was interrupted—deferred—till finally it ceased with one accord, unrenewed and unrenewable. For when Some Things cease for a time—that time turns out to be forever.

Survivors of those happy circles! wherever ye be—should these imperfect remembrances of days of old chance, in some thoughtful pause of life's busy turmoil, for a moment to meet your eyes, let there be towards the inditer a few throbs of revived affection in your hearts—for his, though "absent long and distant