Sunday, December 26, 2004

The Meeting

Today is Boxing Day in England, Canada, and several other countries. The origins of this national holiday are not certain, but the holiday might have started from an old custom of wealthy estate-owners giving small gifts or money, wrapped in boxes, to their servants and those who worked for them. Servants were needed on Christmas to help with their masters' holiday events, so they often were given a rest the next day. St. Stephen is honored today for being the first Christian martyr, having been stoned to death for blasphemy.

The Meeting by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The Meeting After so long an absence
At last we meet again:
Does the meeting give us pleasure,
Or does it give us pain?

The tree of life has been shaken,
And but few of us linger now,
Like the Prophet's two or three berries
In the top of the uttermost bough.

We cordially greet each other
In the old, familiar tone;
And we think, though we do not say it,
How old and gray he is grown!

We speak of a Merry Christmas
And many a Happy New Year
But each in his heart is thinking
Of those that are not here.

We speak of friends and their fortunes,
And of what they did and said,
Till the dead alone seem living,
And the living alone seem dead.

And at last we hardly distinguish
Between the ghosts and the guests;
And a mist and shadow of sadness
Steals over our merriest jests.

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