On the First Day of Christmas, Aunt Hill, Boston, 1875

From Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott:

The elders would have sat and talked all the evening, but the young folks were bent on having their usual Christmas frolic; so, after an hour of pleasant chat, they began to get restless, and having consulted together in dumb show, they devised a way to very effectually break up the family council.

Steve vanished, and, sooner than the boys imagined Dandy could get himself up, the skirl of the bag-pipe was heard in the hall, and the bonny piper came to lead the Clan Campbell in the revel.

“Draw it mild, Stenie, my man; ye play unco weel, but ye mak a most infernal din,” cried Uncle Jem, with his hands over his ears, for this accomplishment was new to him, and “took him all aback,” as he expressed it.

So Steve droned out a Highland reel as softly as he could, and the boys danced it to a circle of admiring relations. Captain Jem was a true sailor, however, and could not stand idle while any thing lively was going on; so, when the piper’s breath gave out, he cut a splendid pigeon-wing into the middle of the hall, saying, “Who can dance a Fore and After?” and, waiting for no reply, began to whistle the air so invitingly that Mrs. Jessie “set” to him laughing like a girl; Rose and Charlie took their places behind, and away went the four with a spirit and skill that inspired all the rest to “cut in” as fast as they could.

Today’s Gifts
A song: Nothing says “Thanksgiving” like a chorus of “Jingle Bells,” Mark Steyn on Jingle Bells
A book (or two): My Friend Amy lists Christmas mysteries for 2010.
A birthday: A Meme and a Celebration, C.S. Lewis, Louisa May Alcott, and Madeleine L’Engle.
A poem: Indwelling by T.E. Brown

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