[Editor: This article, by Alice Grant Rosman, was published in The Bulletin (Sydney, NSW), 3 January 1903.]
[For The Bulletin.]
When the hot Australian Christmas Day is over and the sun sinks to its crimson death, the elders take their chairs to the shadowy garden, and under the waving gum-trees paint a picture.
Their canvas is fashioned of an old remembrance, their colors borrowed from the rich hues of the sunset; and ever, as year by year the remembrance grows fainter, the colors deepen and are more beautiful, as with distance so many things grow beautiful in our sight.
And this is the picture.—
A white world, snow-girt, and sparkling amid a thousand lights. A cold world, warmed by the glow and joyousness that are born of the Christmas season. A young world, full of mistletoe and gay laughter. All this, and in the background an old house standing in its snowy garden — latticed windows, whose lights hold all the brilliance of our Australian summer sunset.
To these dream windows creep the elders one by one. (We may not look within who hold not the remembrance, for our day is not like their day, and perchance we would not understand.) But they remember, and, gazing into the scene of merry-making and festivity, they live again those long-past Christmas days.
For them alone was hung that mistletoe. Their steps were ever lightest in the dance, and round them thronged the gayest and most handsome of all the country-side. But there was one whom, before all, they favored.
The hot, Australian sunset dies away, and with it fades the light in the latticed windows of the dream-hall of the elders. Gay laughter and the sound of footsteps float across the garden, and one by one the children join the group among the trees. And the elders sigh resignedly for a little space, then cease to remember, and join in the merry Christmas of these Australian boys and girls.
But above the clamor and the jollity and the summer heat there floats ever a shadowy picture — a snowy garden, a lighted hall, and two who danced there.
ALICE GRANT ROSMAN.
The Bulletin (Sydney, NSW), 3 January 1903, p. 36, column 1
gay = happy, joyous, carefree; well-decorated, bright, attractive (in modern times it may especially refer to a homosexual, especially a male homosexual; can also refer to something which is no good, pathetic, useless)
girt = encircled, surrounded; encircled or bound with a band or belt (past tense and past participle of “gird”)
snow-girt = surrounded by snow