A Simple Bill Of Fare For A Christmas Dinner





H.H.



All good recipe-books give bills of fare for different occasions, bills

of fare for grand dinners, bills of fare for little dinners; dinners to

cost so much per head; dinners which can be easily prepared with one

servant, and so on. They give bills of fare for one week; bills of fare

for each day in a month, to avoid too great monotony in diet. There are

bills of fare for dyspeptics; bills of fare for consumptives; bills of

fare for fat people, and bills of fare for thin; and bills of fare for

hospitals, asylums, and prisons, as well as for gentlemen's houses. But

among them all, we never saw the one which we give below. It has never

been printed in any book; but it has been used in families. We are not

drawing on our imagination for its items. We have sat at such dinners;

we have helped prepare such dinners; we believe in such dinners; they

are within everybody's means. In fact, the most marvellous thing about

this bill of fare is that the dinner does not cost a cent. Ho! all ye

that are hungry and thirsty, and would like so cheap a Christmas dinner,

listen to this:



BILL OF FARE FOR A CHRISTMAS DINNER



_First Course_--Gladness.



This must be served hot. No two housekeepers make it alike; no fixed

rule can be given for it. It depends, like so many of the best things,

chiefly on memory; but, strangely enough, it depends quite as much on

proper forgetting as on proper remembering. Worries must be forgotten.

Troubles must be forgotten. Yes, even sorrow itself must be denied and

shut out. Perhaps this is not quite possible. Ah! we all have seen

Christmas days on which sorrow would not leave our hearts nor our

houses. But even sorrow can be compelled to look away from its sorrowing

for a festival hour which is so solemnly joyous at Christ's Birthday.

Memory can be filled full of other things to be remembered. No soul is

entirely destitute of blessings, absolutely without comfort. Perhaps we

have but one. Very well; we can think steadily of that one, if we try.

But the probability is that we have more than we can count. No man has

yet numbered the blessings, the mercies, the joys of God. We are all

richer than we think; and if we once set ourselves to reckoning up the

things of which we are glad, we shall be astonished at their number.



Gladness, then, is the first item, the first course on our bill of fare

for a Christmas dinner.



_Entrees._--Love garnished with Smiles.



GENTLENESS, with sweet-wine sauce of Laughter.



GRACIOUS SPEECH, cooked with any fine, savory herbs, such as Frollery,

which is always in season, or Pleasant Reminiscence, which no one need

be without, as it keeps for years, sealed or unsealed.



_Second Course_--HOSPITALITY.



The precise form of this also depends on individual preferences. We are

not undertaking here to give exact recipes, only a bill of fare.



In some houses Hospitality is brought on surrounded with Relatives. This

is very well. In others, it is dished up with Dignitaries of all sorts;

men and women of position and estate for whom the host has special

likings or uses. This gives a fine effect to the eye, but cools quickly,

and is not in the long-run satisfying.



In a third class, best of all, it is served in simple shapes, but with a

great variety of Unfortunate Persons,--such as lonely people from

lodging-houses, poor people of all grades, widows and childless in their

affliction. This is the kind most preferred; in fact, never abandoned by

those who have tried it.



_For Dessert._--MIRTH, in glasses.



GRATITUDE and FAITH beaten together and piled up in snowy shapes. These

will look light if run over night in the moulds of Solid Trust and

Patience.



A dish of the bonbons Good Cheer and Kindliness with every-day mottoes;

Knots and Reasons in shape of Puzzles and Answers; the whole ornamented

with Apples of Gold in Pictures of Silver, of the kind mentioned in the

Book of Proverbs.



This is a short and simple bill of fare. There is not a costly thing in

it; not a thing which cannot be procured without difficulty.



If meat be desired, it can be added. That is another excellence about

our bill of fare. It has nothing in it which makes it incongruous with

the richest or the plainest tables. It is not overcrowded by the

addition of roast goose and plum-pudding; it is not harmed by the

addition of herring and potatoes. Nay, it can give flavor and richness

to broken bits of stale bread served on a doorstep and eaten by beggars.



We might say much more about this bill of fare. We might, perhaps,

confess that it has an element of the supernatural; that its origin is

lost in obscurity; that, although, as we said, it has never been printed

before, it has been known in all ages; that the martyrs feasted upon it;

that generations of the poor, called blessed by Christ, have laid out

banquets by it; that exiles and prisoners have lived on it; and the

despised and forsaken and rejected in all countries have tasted it. It

is also true that when any great king ate well and throve on his dinner,

it was by the same magic food. The young and the free and the glad, and

all rich men in costly houses, even they have not been well fed without

it.



And though we have called it a Bill of Fare for a Christmas Dinner, that

is only that men's eyes may be caught by its name, and that they,

thinking it a specialty for festival, may learn and understand its

secret, and henceforth, laying all their dinners according to its magic

order, may eat unto the Lord.





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