Making It Easy.
“Dear me, I don’t see how you can do it!”
“Do what? Just let the young people have an out and out merry time of it on Christmas night?” “You say your sister’s family are coming to dinner, your girl of course goes out in the evening, and yet half a dozen or more young folks are coming to visit in the evening. Of course you’ll have to get up the treat.”
“Oh, the treat won’t trouble anybody. I’m going to do exactly as we did last year.”
“Yes, but those stylish Merlin girls on the hill told our Ida—she was away last Christmas, you remember—that they spent last Christmas evening at your house, and never had a pleasanter time in their lives. They mentioned particularly that the refreshments were splendid! Ida wondered what you had.”
“Well, it’s easily told. When Tom and the girls said they wished six or eight of their friends, the Merlins among the rest, could come to the house Christmas night, I said they could and welcome if they were willing to do as we used to in our New England home.”
“‘Pray how was that?’ asked Tom, bridling a little.
“I reminded him that Norah expected to go on her little Christmasing as soon as dinner was over, and that I always helped her clear away so lengthy a feast. The table I told him should be neatly spread with nothing on it but the cloth, cups and saucers, plates and paper napkins. On the sideboard should be a platter of cold turkey which I would slice after dinner, chips, fancy crackers, salteens, a pie or two, cake, nuts and raisins, figs and grapes, all ready prepared for serving. A pot of coffee, also one of chocolate, should be on the range. Whenever he or any of the other ladies chose to invite a young lady to the dining room they could treat her to whatever the sideboard afforded, or make merry by running to the kitchen for a cup of hot drink.
“I certainly think those young people were going and coming from the dining room the whole evening through. Tom had sniffed a little and observed something about ‘a regular counter lunch’ when the proposal was made, but this year he proposed carrying out the same program, or I might perhaps more properly say menu.
“I remember Tom called out, ‘The pie’s given out, mammy.’ ‘All right,’ I said, ‘go to the pantry and get another.’ And pretty soon Lizzie wailed, ‘The coffee’s all gone, mammy.’ ‘All right,’ said I placidly, ‘go to work and make some more.’ Then a prolonged cry, ‘O mammy, the turkey has all disappeared.’ ‘Never mind, go to the cellar-way and get the bones.’ There were some pickings left, and I did set up a chicken ‘gainst a special call.
“They picked both turkey frame and chicken bare; Susie’s children were here, you know, so there were fourteen young people in all, and now I have described what the Merlin girls styled ‘splendid refreshments.’ Tom last year ventured something about ice cream, but I told him no, there could be no fussing about anything extra, the general provision of the season would be enough. And we found it a very simple matter to clear away the sideboard treat the next morning, while it gave me scarcely anything extra to do on Christmas afternoon.”
This is a very true showing of what has been done time and time again in a large family, when the young people wanted a little company on Christmas night, and after the long, abundant dinner it was too much for the tired housewife to think of getting up a regularly laid “treat.” It has been proven often that an entirely informal company is the merriest one imaginable, and it is a great mistake to crowd so much into a joyous holiday that all pleasure is lost in a sense of cruel fatigue…
There is quite an art in making things easy, and on holidays the most scrupulous housewife is fully justified in refusing to undertake anything like an extra spread. Just set young people to helping themselves, and my! how the good things will disappear. It is doubly jolly to see Tom or Will pouring chocolate into a tiny cup which he must fill and refill until he must needs search about for more of the raw material. There is always a kind of good comradeship in sharing these merry feasts, especially when it becomes the part of prudence for some matronly girl to advise as to how much coffee or chocolate goes into making another potful. Do not refuse the merry-making because of the work involved. Make things easy, and they will be all the merrier, and young people are much the same all the world around.
Christian Work 16 December 1897: p 1020
Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: This will be Mrs Daffodil’s last post for 2017. Should readers wish for more tips on making the holidays merry and bright, she can recommend the “Christmas” tab for stories on Christmas tree dances , New Year’s Eve “wish” trees and other entertainments.
Mrs Daffodil wishes her readers the best of everything for the holidays and peace, health, and prosperity in the New Year.
Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes
You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.