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[294]

But the presents! Christmas consists in the presents, we say, and we cannot be giving gifts all the time. It might possibly be better if we could do this than to concentrate on one day such a superabundance of enjoyment. But granting that it is desirable, even at the risk of excess, to have that one glorious hour of crowded life once a year, there is nothing essentially unreasonable in the thought of a gift every day. For what does a gift mean to a child? Few children, luckily, are so precocious as to care what a tiling costs. A present is a novelty, that is all-something fresh and unexpected, great or small; and what it really costs, in this sense, is not money, but sympathy and ingenuity. By far the most enjoyable Christmas gift received by the aforesaid little three-year-old girl was a small and cheap basket containing a thimble, a needle, two spools of thread, and some scraps of silk and ribbon, perhaps costing altogether the sum of thirty cents. The superb doll, the cynosure of neighboring eyes, was soon neglected, but the basket was and is a daily joy. Of all necessary elements in making a child happy, it seems to me that money, beyond a very little, is the least important. The real Lord and Lady Bountiful are not those whose least gift implies a fortune, but they are Caleb Garth, in “Middlemarch,” who never forgets to cut the large red seal from his letters for the expectant children; they are the wise

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