It is a time for giving and a time for receiving whatever gifts we have to offer family, friends or people we have never known and never will. It’s a time for rejoicing, for reflection and the remembering of old friends who can no longer share our festive board.
It’s a time for happiness, remembering old times, old friends, not with tears of sadness but with thankful joy for lives once shared and never forgotten; a time for me to remind readers, as I have now for many years, of William Henry Harrison “Adirondack” Murray’s story John Norton’s Vagabond, the tale of the old man who used to invite wilderness friends and neighbours to his cabin for Christmas dinner and ask them at the end of a long evening of celebration:
“Ah, friend dear friends, as years go on and heads get gray, how fast the guests do go!
Touch hands, touch hands, with those that stay.
Strong hands to weak, old hands to young, around the Christmas board, touch hands.
The false forget, the foe forgive, for every guest will go and every fire burn low and cabin empty stand.
Forget, forgive, for who may say that Christmas day my ever come to host or guest again.
“Adirondack” Murray died in 1904. More than 100 years later the message remains strong. Enjoy, rejoice, forget, forgive and, always being conscious of the uncertain future – touch hands.
It’s a not a gloomy message. Just a reminder of other words you could probably once recite from memory – but could never recall the name of the “attributed to” author Ettienne De Grellett (1773-1855).
They are not Christmas specific – but this most joyous of seasons is a good time for each one of us to remember and recite:
“I shall pass through this world but once. If, therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do, let me do it now; let me not defer it or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”
And, all who have read this far, I wish you a Happy Christmas – with many more to come and lots of time for acts of kindness and good things to do. Starting now to be sure the thoughts become actions.