Christmas Bells & Simplicity Marks the Modern Maid’s Wedding

This is the third article in December of the School for Housewives 1905 series published on Dec 10, 1905.

Transcribed from the Sunday edition of The Washington Times.

When I transcribe these articles from newspapers, it is sometimes difficult to determine what is supposed to be the main article by Mrs. Harland. In this instance, I thought possibly the poem Christmas Bells as Marion was an author of a number of publications outside her cookbooks and syndicated articles.

As it turns out, I was incorrect as this is actually a reprint of a poem by Sarah Webb Vilas entitled My Shrine. I found an earlier publication in The Home-Maker – An Illustrated Monthly Magazine Vol. 3 October 1889 to March 1890 edited by Marion Harland.

This has led me to believe that her article may possibly be “Simplicity Marks the Modern Maid’s Wedding” which I have also transcribed for reading pleasure.

Christmas Bells

FLUSHED warmth within’ without white cold;
In library-chamber vast and old,
I, basking in the fragrant red
By logs of birch and cedar fed –
So still the night – heard, toll on toll,
The distant belfry call to soul
Belated, or distraught with sin,
To pray the holy Christmas in.
From carven mantel, grim and brown,
The Virgin and her Son looked down;
At right and left knelt martyr-saint;
Tulips and roses, fashioned quaint,
Bloomed at their feet, and cherubs’ eyes
Surveyed them with a glad surprise.

Was’t midnight-bell
That wrought the spell,
Or incensed glow
That, flickering slow,
Showed caravan shapes instinct with life?
While, breaking forth in tuneful strife,
Like fall of streams and hymns of birds,
Weird music throbbed and soared in words –
(The while the far-off rhythmic beat
Of towered bell chimed low and sweet).
The story of the ages grew –
Tales of the tempted and the true;
Of vanquished Self, and Vice withstood,
And Evil beaten down by Good;
How saints had lived; how martyrs died
By sword, and rack, and scourge, and tide;
Had found in dungeon trysting-place,
Had clasped the stake in rapt embrace.

And evermore,
And o’er and o’er
Angelic tongues
Blended the songs,
Harmonious billows of one sea –
“This have we done, dear Christ, for Thee!”
Now far and faint, now near and clear –
“All hail to Thee! O Christ most dear!”
The bell made answer straight and strange;
On chime and voicings fell a change,
From age-browned oak on me were bent
Regards of griefful wonderment.

“And thou? and thou?
Art silent now?
For sun and showers,
Fruit and flowers,
For watch and ward by night and day;
For dangers ’scaped in darksome way;
For hourly grace and passion reined;
Foes reconciled and friends retained;
For ransom paid and debt forgiven;
For love and life and hope of heaven –
Hast thou no need of praise to bring?”
“And thou? And thou?” The voiced ring
Still calls my humble soul to prayer,
While flares and falls the perfumed glare
On carved saint and child divine –
To me, this Christmas tide, a Shrine!

Simplicity Marks the Modern Maid’s Wedding

A sort of reaction is taking place against the elaborate weddings so long in vogue, with the result that several brides have had the simplest sorts of ceremonies, carrying out the idea of simplicity in decoration, and even in the wedding dress itself. When present-giving is carried to the extent that it was with one bride, who returned just her duplicates to one well-known firm of silversmiths and had a credit there of something over a thousand dollars, it becomes something most unpleasantly overdone.

The exchanging of presents too, by brides for presents to send to other brides, has been carried on to the same way as the exchange of euchre prizes which became so annoying that several stores were forced to refuse such exchanges. For not only was the original purchase returned, and something else taken out, but that second purchase probably was returned, and its equivalent brought back until there was no end to it.

It seems dreadful that anything so closely connected with sentiment as a wedding gift should be put to so prosaic a use, but it is done every day.

One bride who declare that an invitation to a wedding reception was a “hold-up” for a present, refused to have a reception on that very account, contenting herself with announcements, and comparatively few of these. A good many persons were annoyed at seemingly being over overlooked but the reason leaked out and the tide of feeling changed.

Another bride refused to have bridesmaids because she couldn’t afford to give them their dresses and she felt it unfair to put them to that expense. It’s a pretty hard thing for a girl to have to refuse to be bridesmaid for her dearest friend, but many a girl has had to, and then, for the life of her, not been able to avoid a pretty sorry feeling of discontent.

But one might go on indefinitely quoting the little prettiest little acts of consideration. There was the girl who planned just simple summer dresses for her bridesmaids; and the other who asked her nearest and dearest friends to sit in the front pews of the church so as to be near her, and to give them a pretty little distinction, asked them to wear their white dresses. She herself sent them the flowers they wore – the richest, most velvety of roses.

As to the wedding itself, there’s room for a deal of consideration to be shown there It isn’t every family to whom a big affair doesn’t come as a severe tax. And, for that matter, any sort of elaborate display of decoration seems a little out of keeping with the solemnity which belong by rights to the ceremony.

The simplest sort of a church wedding was given by a girl who felt (as so many girls feel) that her wedding wouldn’t be quite real unless she had it in a church. Only the altar was decorated, and that simply, but prettily, with white flowers and foliage and plants. There were no invitations issued at all, but all of her friends were told about it, and whoever wanted to come, came. There was none of the usual crowd curious to see the dresses; only the people she wanted about her, and who really wanted the pleasure of being present on her one great day. From the standpoint of sentiment it was an ideal wedding.

Another bride held no reception – she was like the other girl, and held that receptions meant presents – but word was passed along somehow, and everybody drifted home with her from the church. Her presents had been put out, so that a survey was made, everybody had a chance to wish her joy, and in the dining room was a great wedding cake with its three mystic tokens hidden away somewhere in its interior, and ices.

It is hard to plan things on a modest scale for the one important occasion of your life, but so much less strain attends that sort of thing, and there’s so much more time in the last few days in which to get close to your family that it pays. And the bride who has the courage to considerate at the expense of a little of her own pleasure has a quality about her that is like a talisman to insure future happiness.

Christmas Dinner Suggestions
Housewife’s Exchange
Recipes by Marion Harland
Recipes for Candy Makers
Told by the Cheeks