The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 8 (December 1, 1929)
Xmas and X-tacy.
Decorous reader, doubtless you contemplate Christmas as a prescribed and definite date indicated by cabalistic characters on a calendar; bootless, you consider the season of salubrity in terms of Time; and this, unfortunate reader, is where you go for a skate on the orange peel of error, rumpling your reason and lacerating your logic, for Christmas dwells more in the consciousness than on the calendar. It is a psychological sensation which embrocates the emotional emanations and metamorphoses the metaphysical millinery, causing the cry of cankerous Care and the dictates of dismal Duty to gurgle and gasp in the loud-shrieker of daily endeavour.
Time and the “Tied.”
Truly, time and tide are terminological twins, but Yuletide should neither be tied to Time nor timed to tide.
As proof of this dictatorial declaration, let us suppose that, consequent on some lunary lapse, or a convolution in the cosmic cuisine, the Michaelmasticatory microbes were to antedate their annual activities by a moon or more, would we not still react to the bite of the boisterous bacillus, irrespective of the calculations of the calendar?
Dear sir and her, we venture to projagulate that the joy-germs would nip as niftily in Octember as in Devember.
In other words, Time, as applied to Xmas, is Not the essence of the contact.
Anyway, what is Time but a titular termigant who terrorises the timid?
Mr. Einstein, the most tireless time-killer of our times, devoted a great deal of time to proving that Time is timeless, but at the same time we are prepared to wager a boy-proof to a waterproof that while denying mean time, he was never guilty of defying meal time.
Time Is mean. Time is a scurvy cheat; he takes the best young years while we value them least, and when we totter into his place of business to redeem them he hands us nought but regrets. He encourages us to pledge the substance for the shadow, to pawn juvenility for due senility. Time's real name is Tempus McFugit; he wears a kilt and operates between the waving palms.
Some there are who testify that Time is merely the chronological crop in the process of passing through Eternity's harvester, to be chopped into chronometrical chaff and used for tabulating trains, and timing racehorses and eggs. Others aver that Time is a metrical myth manufactured to keep humanity on the hop in the hope of catching up with something that isn't there.
Now, having proved that time Is or Is Not (as you like it), the question before the bored is: “How can we chop up something that isn't here and dispose of it on tick?”
In view of the fact that we can neither see nor smell time, it is safe to say that on the voting, neither the eyes nor the nose have it.
After all, bewildered reader, notwithstanding nor with lying, Time is what we make it. For instance, to the lag who is bagged with the swag, it represents anything from a couple of spring-tides to a brace of Yuletides; to the clock-watcher who combines lead-swinging with ink-slinging, it is a grey daze between paydays; to the motorologistic moron with the one-way mind, it is mere material for satisfying an amputative ambition, frequently ending in an ambulance; to the harassed hen, it is a Mournful Lay; to the captious “cop,” it is Beats and Eats; to the watchmaker, Time is money; and to the railwayfarer, it is a scenic sequence of high-frequence.
The Spot Marked X-mas.
To all of us, Christmas Comes but Once a Year; it is the spot marked X-mas on the mental matrix; it is the cue to introduce the light comedy touch into twelve acts of dreary drama. But why wait until the fall of the curtain to put the laugh across the “lights”? Why not shoot up the Whole show with comic capers?
“Look after the laughs and the laments will take care of themselves,” should be our clarion cry. It should be our aim permanently to pulverise the populace with lashings of laughter, to minister to the masses with the microbes of merriment, to jollify the jeremiads with japes of joy, to pepper the pessimists with persiflage, and generally to wake the welkin with salvos of song. Such need not take the form of vocal vibration or laryngitical levity; it may be a silent song of the soul, an internal interlude—dumb but delicious, soundless but satisfying, a genuine generation of joy notes in the jazz organ.
Unlimbering the Larynx.
Think you, dear reader, how often do you really Laugh? Certainly you smile bleakly or meekly or weakly in direct ratio to the status of the joke of the moment, but how often do you unfurl the loud squeaker so wide that the ears must needs step back a pace or sever relations with the belfry; how often do you unlimber the larynx, elevate the eyebrows until they slip over the top into no-man's-land, fling up the face so high that the collar becomes a body-belt, and heave a hatful of head-noises into the rafters. How often do you proclaim a bargain-day in the fun-factory and bray with boyish blithesomeness or gurgle and gasp with girlish gaiety.
A Lyric Hysteric.
If all the world laughed once a day,
War and woe would wither away,
Greed and grab and grumpetting, too,
Would hit the highway into the blue;
Existence indeed would be O.K.
If all the world laughed once a day.
None of your wintry smirks we pray,
But something sonorous once a day;
A Jovian jape from the seat of joy,
A Herculanean hobbledehoy,
A bumper of benediction gay,
Is what we want from the world each day.
Pessimists, pounding their doctrines grey,
Ought to be Made to laugh each day;
Misery-makers who gloom and glug,
Ought to get months and months in jug;
A law should be—and this we say,
That each mother's son must laugh each day.
Or else the proper penalty pay,
In durance vile each night and day
For a month of Sundays or even three,
Receiving instruction in jollity,
And tickled with feathers and bits of hay,
Until they learn to laugh each day.
The Spring-tide of Yuletide.
It is said that he who laughs last laughs best, but methinks that he who laughs most carps less; likewise every dog has his day, but some dog's days are only daze.
But we must not forget, buoyant reader, that Christmas is here and the goose—we hope—has attained that desirable state of obesity entitling it to a place in the menu. Laughter litters the landscape, and the hand of Care is in a sling. The lid has been prised off the gasometer of glee and at any moment there will be an explosion of merriment that will blow a hole clean through the mists of melancholy.
The steel rails are running hot to the pounding of drumming wheels. They are the throbbing threads which draw friend to friend, father to family, children to the old roof-tree; they whisper and sing of the grand things of life—love and laughter, the cup of gaiety; the joy of fine living, of work well done and leisure well earned; of high adventure and romance; of the splendid things that are man's heritage.
Christmas has come, and the spring-tide of Yuletime whispers on the sands of Happiness; peace on earth and goodwill to all men—a laugh, one peal on the bell of human joy, and—why, life is worth the while.
Beat wheels beat, like the giant heart of happiness on the road to Destiny. Whirl us to the foot of the rainbow where is buried the magic talisman of Life, and with the wooden spade of childhood let us disinter it from the mould of almost forgotten things. For this magic token is the spirit of Christmas. Let's grasp it firmly, we human hunters after happiness, and make it the spirit of Every day, lest through our neglect it fade and turn to dull stone.
Undoubtedly, Christmas has crystallised, and down the rainbow, which is the permanent way of the milky way, Father O'Christmas is sliding on the Joy Unlimited, with the throttle open and the furnace glowing with the fires of enthusiasm, while the funnel flings star-dust to the ends of eternity; the track is “open” to the earth, and the tender is weighted with the good old bag of tricks, which include railway excursions and divers diversions, reduced fares to reduce cares, square deals for round trips, special concessions for family processions, limiteds unlimited, and miles of smiles.
Father O'Christmas is a bhoy—one of the lads; we expect to see quite a deal of him:
Father O'Christmas you've got a way wid yer,
We're all impatience to join in the play wid yer,
Bet your sweet life we are game to go gay wid yer,
Father O'Christmas Me bhoy.
Father O'Christmas let's fill a glass wid yer,
Let's take your flipper and make a gay pass wid yer,
Toss off a bumper of joy on the grass wid yer,
Father O'Christmas Me bhoy.
Father O'Christmas none can compare wid yer,
Let's make a party and go to the fair wid yer,
You've got a way that amounts to a “flair” wid yer,
Father O'Christmas Me bhoy.
Father O'Christmas we'd like to be more wid yer,
Let's have a dance and a prance round the floor wid yer,
Chase round the chimneys and rooftops galore wid yer,
Father O'Christmas Me bhoy.
Father O'Christmas let's run away wid yer,
Let's make a party and go for the day wid yer,
By rail's the way that will pay when we play wid yer,
Father O'Christmas Me Bhoy.
In conclusion, dear reader, let us hope that Father O'Christmas will “sock” you well and truly on Christmas Eve. When you trip with him by rail there will be no changing at the junction of joyous anticipation and merry realisation.
Overheard at Stratford-on-Avon Station.
American: “I want a ticket to London.”
Booking Clerk: “Will you go to Euston or—”
American: “I guess I'll use the route that Shakespeare used when he left his home town for London.”
Booking Clerk (rising to the occasion): “As you like it.“—(From the Railway Gasette.)