QOTD (2011-12-02); or, Advent

The following, by E.B. White, was the highlight of the Princeton Glee Club’s secular lessons and carols tonight (I mean, other than the delightful singing):

From this high mid­town hall, undecked with boughs, unfor­ti­fied with mistle­toe, we send forth our tin­selled greet­ings as of old, to friends, to read­ers, to strangers of many con­di­tions in many places. Merry Christ­mas to uncer­ti­fied accoun­tants, to tellers who have made a mis­take in addi­tion, to girls who have made a mis­take in judg­ment, to grounded air­line pas­sen­gers, and to all those who can’t eat clams! We greet with par­tic­u­lar warmth peo­ple who wake and smell smoke. To cap­tains of river boats on snowy morn­ings we send an answer­ing toot at this hol­i­day time. Merry Christ­mas to intel­lec­tu­als and other despised minori­ties! Merry Christ­mas to the musi­cians of Muzak and men whose shoes don’t fit! Greet­ings of the sea­son to unem­ployed actors and the black­listed every­where who suf­fer for sins uncom­mit­ted; a holly thorn in the thumb of com­pil­ers of lists! Greet­ings to wives who can’t find their glasses and to poets who can’t find their rhymes! Merry Christ­mas to the unloved, the mis­un­der­stood, the over­weight. Joy to the authors of books whose titles begin with the word “How” (as though they knew!). Greet­ings to peo­ple with a ring­ing in their ears; greet­ings to grow­ers of gourds, to shear­ers of sheep, and to mak­ers of change in the lonely under­ground booths! Merry Christ­mas to old men asleep in libraries! Merry Christ­mas to peo­ple who can’t stay in the same room with a cat! We greet, too, the board­ers in board­ing hoses on 25 Decem­ber, the duen­nas in Cen­tral Park in fair weather and foul, and young lovers who got noth­ing in the mail. Merry Christ­mas to peo­ple who plant trees in city streets; merry Christ­mas to peo­ple who save prairie chick­ens from extinc­tion! Greet­ings of a purely mechan­i­cal sort to machines that think–plus a sprig of arti­fi­cial holly. Joy­ous Yule to Cadil­lac own­ers whose con­duct is unwor­thy of their car! Merry Christ­mas to the defeated, the for­got­ten, the inept; joy to all dandiprats and bun­glers! We send, most par­tic­u­larly and most hope­fully, our greet­ings and our prayers to sol­diers and guards­men on land and sea and in the air–the young men doing the hard­est things at the hard­est time of life. To all such, Merry Christ­mas, bless­ings, and good luck! We greet the Secretaries-designate, the President-elect; Merry Christ­mas to our new lead­ers, peace on earth, good will, and good man­age­ment! Merry Christ­mas to cou­ples unhappy in door­ways! Merry Christ­mas to all who think they are in love but aren’t sure! Greet­ings to peo­ple wait­ing for trains that will take them in the wrong direc­tion, to peo­ple doing up a bun­dle and the string is too short, to chil­dren with sleds and no snow! We greet min­is­ters who can’t think of a moral, gag­men who can’t think of a joke. Greet­ings, too, to the inhab­i­tants of other plan­ets; see you soon! And last, we greet all skaters on small nat­ural ponds at the edge of woods toward the end of after­noon. Merry Christ­mas, skaters! Ring, steel! Grow red, sky! Die down, wind! Merry Christ­mas to all and to all a good morrow!

The fairy lights are up in my room, Handel’s Messiah is on the radio, and I’m making mulled wine for a party tomorrow night! Whatever we may have to object to in the Christian liturgical calendar, hurrah for it giving countries with Christian cultures a time when it is perfectly acceptable to be happy all the time, whatever the Puritan work ethic and the capitalist speed-up may say to the contrary!

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