The real happiness of Christmas for children lies in the anticipation. The dusk of early morning to eager young eyes is full of fairy possibilities; the feeble flutter of a candle is iridescent of fairyland. The cheap and showy articles in the bulging stockings have a magic glitter never found in later gifts.
But, with daylight comes a change. Brown eyes may be seen carefully comparing every article of his own, down to the “white penny” his small fingers picked from the toe, with those that emerged from the stocking of Blue-Eyes, and presently shrill screams and the stamping of little feet announced that some compulsory “swapping” is going on.
Blue-Eyes wails because she ate her little bag of sweets before dawn, and Brown-Eyes still has three left in their white net pocket; while that warrior roars because he got a horse in place of his little sister’s doll. He wants a horse and a doll, for, he says, “Ickle boys likes dollies.” and “Hughie wants a dollie to yide on Hughie’s ‘obby ‘orse.”
It is hardly to be expected that Blue-Eyes will permit her gay new doll to mount the back of a grim, old, paintless hobby horse, which, in the open farmyard, has stood the blaze of summer and the storms of winter in the patient performance of scavenger work in conjunction with a miniature barrow.
So the day wears on. And, if the little ones could reflect, they might moralise that not even Santa Claus can bring in his reindeer sledge happiness that will outlast an hour of daylight.
Dinner — that wonderful dinner, to which the children, frank little gourmands, have looked forward for days — brings with it a surfeit of “pum-pooney” (plum pudding), after which all the new toys meet with extraordinary and exasperating accidents, which are very trying to the temper of the sweetest of Brown-Eyes and Blue-Eyes.
Fortunately, on this greatest of days, the eve falls early. Two white-gowned figures have an hour of peaceful play on the hearthrug, and, worn out with excitement,go to bed earlier than usual. Not even the irrepressible Blue-Eyes asks for her stocking to be hung up this night.
Once a year is enough. She is graciously pleased to hear the the reindeer are skimming through the air, carrying lovely dollies to little girlies on the other side of the globe. Brown-Eyes is grunting in his sleep. Such is the effect of too much “pum-pooney.