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A Long Winter’s Nap

Rare Books
cover of Christmas Decoration of Churches

cover of Christmas Decoration of Churches

‘Tis the season!

If the bombardment of advertising and well-wishers has you exclaiming, “Bah!  Humbug!” and you just can’t seem to get in the holiday mood, digging through our catalog might unearth a few items to put you in the spirit of the season.

Reverend Edward L. Cutts gives us An Essay on the Christmas Decoration of Churches, a second edition of an 1863 imprint which begins by lamenting the passing of the good ol’ days.  The “Introduction” reads, “In old times men took more pains to do honour to the great events of life than we do now.  They would strew the street-way with rushes and flowers, and hang tapestries from every window, when any procession of king, or lord, or civic pageant was to pass through their streets.”

These kids today, they just don’t know how to decorate!

He goes on to broadly and briefly trace the traditions of Christmas and other holiday decorations before providing a litany of detailed best practices in the decking out of one’s church for the festive holiday season.  Recommendations include the use of holly as a staple for your decorations (“It is specially appropriate, by custom and association, to Christmas, as the blooming sallow is to Palm Sunday, or milk-white hawthorn to May-day.”), the correct manner of application of a spiral wreath to a pillar (“Take care that the wreath is not put upside down; foliage must never be put in a direction contrary to that of its growth.”), and what exactly to do with the pews (“We recommend that the pews and benches should be left undecorated;  but if it is desired to put some holly about them out of respect to long-established custom and honest prejudices, let it not be done with the great straggling boughs, but with small handsome sprigs, all of about the same size.”).

cover of Louisiana and Texas for the Winter Tourist

cover of Louisiana and Texas for the Winter Tourist

Done with decorations and thinking of travel this season?  Louisiana and Texas for the Winter Tourist, published in 1911, represents the Southern Pacific Railroad Company’s targeted marketing to all those snowbirds desperate for warmer climes in the winter months.  Tourists in the early 1900s were sold a city in Houston that was “the metropolis of the whole imperial domain of the Lone Star State… a great and beautiful city,” promised golf 365 days a year, and touted grand hotels, like the New Bender, the Macatee, the Bristol, and the Brazos.

Finally, when you are ready to settle down for that long winter’s nap, why not take a gander at Mother Goose for Grown Folks:  A Christmas Reading (1860).  We are reintroduced to that “laughing oracle” of Mother Goose, who reminds us, “Of morals in novels, we’ve had not a few;/With now and then novel moralities too…”  What follows throughout are “grownup” retorts to the old and familiar Jack Horner (plucking plums from “the fruit of others’ baking”), a “portly old Dame… Britannia by name” living in a shoe who seems to be having some problems with one of her children (a young upstart named Sam, who refuses to take his tea), and the problematic Humpty Dumpty, who teaches us many lessons but none more valuable than the following:

cover of Mother Goose for Grown Folks

cover of Mother Goose for Grown Folks

So the great scheme works on, –though, like eggs from the wall
Little single designs to such ruin may fall,
That not all the world’s might, of its horses or men,
Could set their crushed hopes at the summit again.

Here is hoping your hopes are not crushed or, if so, that they are indeed being repaired back towards the summit again as we head towards the new year.  The University of Houston Special Collections wishes you and yours all of the best throughout this holiday season.

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