Time was, with most of us, when Christmas Day encircling all our limited world like a magic ring, left nothing out for us to miss or seek; bound together all our home enjoyments, affections, and hopes; grouped everything and every one around the Christmas fire; and made the little picture shining in our bright young eyes, complete.
And is our life here, at the best, so constituted that, pausing as we advance at such a noticeable mile-stone in the track as this great birthday, we look back on the things that never were, as naturally and full as gravely as on the things that have been and are gone, or have been and still are? If it be so, and so it seems to be, must we come to the conclusion that life is little better than a dream, and little worth the loves and strivings that we crowd into it ?
"Pause," says a low voice. "Nothing ? Think !"
"On Christmas Day, we will shut out from our fireside, Nothing."
"Not the shadow of a vast City where the withered leaves are lying deep ?" the voice replies. "Not the shadow that darkens the whole globe? Not the shadow of the City of the Dead ?"