The Winter Solstice has not yet fallen upon us, yet the Parish is already cover'd in a dense Blanket of Snow; the Boys of our Town Ship, I am sorry to testify, have cast aside their School Primers and Lunch Encasements to build Ramparts of Snow, and to heave Spheres of a kindr'd Nature at one another in great Jollity and lightness of Spirit.
I discover'd this whilst arduously negotiating my Way across the Publick Square, during which it was my abject Misfortune to be struck by one of these Snow Projectiles; its Velocity drove the Stove Pipe Hat from my Head.
I was quite Scarlet with Rage, and I swiftly box'd the Ears of the churlish young Hobbledehoy who lobb'd the offending Missile. For the Hat was a cherish'd Gift from an esteem'd Prelate of our Synod who was a Class Mate of mine at Seminary so many Years ago. The purblind Urchin could only whimper in Reply and alleg'd that it was merely unintentional Happenstance. But I knew my Cause was just; for did not David the King spake unto the Lord, "Thou hast also given me the Necks of mine Enemies, that I might destroy them that hate me"?
I promptly seiz'd the Whelp by his smarting Ear and led him to his Master, whom I knew as the Town Green Grocer. The Green Grocer thank'd me for my Attentions, claiming that he was sorely behind in his Labours, and need'd his Boy to affix Price Labels onto a great Multitude of Fruit Roll Ups.
The Boy set to loud Moaning, and sobb'd that he was most weary of engaging in this particular Trade, as he was fast losing the Sensation in his Wrists; but the Green Grocer gave him a great Clout and told him to mind. The Grocer then explain'd unto me that, being as it is the joyous Season of the Christ's Mass, the Boy's Mind fairly dances with Visions of Sugar Plums and other rare Yule Tide Delights, and he is less apt to apply himself to more sobering Tasks.
Verily, I would not have been more shock'd and appall'd if he had said that The Boy was the Devil himself. For the Holiday known as the Christ's Mass is fraught with Pagan Deviltry that finds no Liturgical Justification in the Holy Scriptures.
Where in the Gospels does it mention that, to honor the Birth of our Divine Saviour, one must adorn an Ever Green Tree with gild'd Spangles and Baubles? Or that gaily disguis'd Sundries be plac'd under this Tree, to be exchang'd later as Idolatrous Tokens of Good Will amongst Lov'd Ones? Or that one may, with one's Bosom Companions, regale the Homes of one's Town Ship with melodious Carols, imbibe the Nog compris'd of Eggs, feast upon the Hart, cut merry Capers, await the Coming of a beard'd Gentle Man upon a Sledge drawn by Elk, and glide upon the frozen Pond in Blad'd Shoes? Not a Trace of this is to be found in the Good Book.
I submit that such Expressions of Holiday Cheer are of the purest Heresy; and did not our Divine Saviour say unto the Scribes and Pharisees, "He that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never Forgiveness, but is in Danger of eternal Damnation"? The truly Pious will observe the Christ's Mass Tide as they would any other Day of the Year: swath'd in a Hair Shirt and scourging oneself repeatedly with a Cow Hide.
When I first became Rector of this Parish, I was most shock'd and vex'd to find that my Predecessor had institut'd a yearly Pageant to commemorate the Christ's Mass Holiday. In this Pageant, a Number of Children were adorn'd to resemble the Holy Family, the Magi, Shepherds, and Angels. After they perform'd the Story of the Nativity, the Congregation gather'd around a gaudily bedeck'd Yule Tree and ate Johnny Cakes bak'd to resemble Stars and Bells. Then, the Pastor, dress'd as the beard'd Father of Christ's Mass, pass'd out Gifts to the Young. I would have none of that. Instead of permitting the Children to masquerade immodestly as Angels and Saints, I lock'd them in my Rectory Study, and drill'd them endlessly in the rote Memorization of the Book of Numbers.
Alas, the Temptation to indulge in the barbarous Festivities of the Christ's Mass is great indeed, as I bore Witness in the very Parsonage in which I, the Good Woman Hustings and our eight Off Spring dwell. One Evening before the Day of the Christ's Mass, as I was about to douse the Parlor Hearth, I heard a faint Creaking upon the Ceiling. I determin'd that the Noise was emanating from the Sleeping Quarters of my Children. Furious that they had disobeyed their strict Bed Time of Seven O'Clock, I swiftly made my way Up Stairs and flung open the Door of their Chamber. I was absolutely Aghast to find them huddled upon the Floor, preparing to divide into Portions a small Plum Pudding.
My Wrath waxing most Hot, I seiz'd my eldest Son, Neville, by his coarse Sack Cloth Garment, and gave him a sound Shake, for I consider'd him responsible for leading his younger siblings Astray. "What?" I cried unto them. "Have you forsaken all that you have been taught in the Bible of the Lord our God and chosen to adopt the Ways of the Ungodly, as did the Children of Israel when they shunn'd the Covenant of God and worshiped the Molten Calf?"
"If you please, Sir," Neville simpered. "The Pudding was a Gift of a Neighbor Lady, who took Pity upon us, that we had no Christ's Mass Cheer of our own. She cook'd it upon her very Hearth herself, and present'd it to us when you were away, so that we may enjoy the Good Tidings of the Blessed Season."
Great was my Anguish, as I realiz'd that my Years of Tireless Preaching had borne rotten Fruit. As Punishment, I forc'd my Children to sleep upon Nettles, drink rancid Gravy and recite the Book of Leviticus before they could go to the Out House.
For did not Moses speak unto all Israel, "The Lord shall establish thee an holy People unto Himself, as He hath sworn unto thee, if thou shalt keep the Commandments of the Lord thy God, and walk in his Ways"? And none of his Ways include the Eating of the Plum Pudding, and the Viewing of the Elk with the Crimson Nose upon the Television Set. With that in Mind, may Peace be unto you, in the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, Amen.