Like a dream, it all comes o’er me as I hear the Christmas bells;
Like a dream it floats before me, while the Christmas anthem swells;
Like a dream it bears me onward in the silent, mystic flow,
To a dear old sunny Christmas in the happy long ago.
And my thoughts go backward, backward, and the years that intervene
Are but as the mists and shadows when the sunlight comes between;
And all earthly wealth and splendor seem but as a fleeting show,
As there comes to me the picture of a Christmas long ago.
I can see the great, wide hearthstone and the holly hung about;
I can see the smiling faces, I can hear the children shout;
I can feel the joy and gladness that the old room seem to fill,
E’en the shadows on the ceiling—I can see them dancing still.
I can see the little stockings hung about the chimney yet;
I can feel my young heart thrilling lest the old man should forget.
Ah! that fancy! Were the world mine, I would give it, if I might,
To believe in old St. Nicholas, and be a child to-night.
Just to hang my little stocking where it used to hang, and feel
For one moment all the old thoughts and the old hopes o’er me steal.
But, oh! loved and loving faces, in the firelight’s dancing glow,
There will never come another like that Christmas long ago!
For the old home is deserted, and the ashes long have lain
In the great, old-fashioned fireplace that will never shine again.
Friendly hands that then clasped ours now are folded ‘neath the snow;
Gone the dear ones who were with us on that Christmas long ago.
Let the children have their Christmas—let them have it while they may;
Life is short and childhood’s fleeting, and there’ll surely come a day
When St. Nicholas will sadly pass on by the close-shut door,
Missing all the merry faces that had greeted him of yore;
When no childish step shall echo through the quiet, silent room;
When no childish smile shall brighten, and no laughter lift the gloom;
When the shadows that fall ’round us in the fire-light’s fitful glow
Shall be ghosts of those who sat there in the Christmas long ago.