This one opens with a picture of Jarvis Wood, along with Jarvis Wood, Jarvis Wood, Jarvis Wood, and Jarvis Wood. They’re gathered around a table working on this issue of Special Delivery. Apparently, photographic trickery is not a new thing. Multiple exposure? Something like that.
(Did you miss the first entry? Read this.)
“The entire editoral staff of the Special Delivery wishes the holder of this copy a Merry Christmas in the good year nineteen thirteen.
“Jarvis A. Wood (signed)
“The Wesley Inn
Christmastide, nineteen thirteen”
Turn the page.
Do you believe in “signs”? I do. I have seen so many of them come true. For instance, when I see a Salvation Army lassie on the street corner tinkling a cymbal and standing guard over an iron pot with an open-work cover, I know at once that it is “a sign”; in fact, a whole bundle of signs. It is a sign of Christmas and a sign of growing good will, but what is more, it is a sign that some hungry folks are going to have a good dinner; and what is best of all, it is a sign that I have a chance to help—to make as well as to wish a Merry Christmas. Oh yes! I sure believe in signs.
I found myself in a crowded elevator of a department store. It was the regular 1:30 accommodation. The car was full of ladies—and feathers; feathres a la 1913; need I say more? As we reached the first floor, above the first, main or street floor, the conductor in dulcet tones called out, “Ladies’ Wraps and Millinery”; a great attraction surely; but not a lady passed out. At the next floor, “Art Needlework” failed to draw, and so we all stuck; yes, “stuck” is the right word—at least for the feathers—until at one landing the short word “Toys” suddenly emptied the car with the exception of the crew and your historian. In the rush, two little street urchins who had successfully run the floorwalkers’ blockage, ran around my right end for a gain of two yards. As they shot out of sight, like a collar button under a bureau, it dawned on me that I had seen another “sign,” and missed a chance to follow and help a little in giving these blockade-runners a personal introduction to Old Kris; but I accepted the “sign” then and there just the same, and I have seen to it that some kiddies will meet Santa unexpectedly. The same to you!
Speaking of Christmas, last year I did something that I had never before attempted. You doubtless know I wrote and sent out a little booklet which I called my “Special Delivery.” The most remarkable thing about this production was its unexpected popularity. Friends, whose counsel is to me as that of Solomon, gave me something to think over about that booklet. They shared my satisfaction and my surprise, but they declared that I could never do it again and pointed out that it was the part of wisdom to let well enough alone. I had the same sort of advice years ago when, without any training or coaching, I broke the record for big bass in a lake that had been regularly fished since white men settled in New York. I specify white men, as the aboriginal records are not accessible. I took the advice to quit fishing there, and have found it very satisfactory, but the question arises does the same thing apply now to my Christmas booklets? Time, and a few honest friends, alone will tell.
I am inclined to think that my Advisory Board did not exactly understand why I wrote that “Special Delivery.” I did not expect to say anything new or striking. Christmas is old, friendship is old, and I have even noticed that some of my friends are growing old. The simple truth is, that I wrote the Special Delivery just to please myself. I felt like opening my heart a little and letting out some thoughts that had long lived there. It seemed a good time to do this when people everywhere were wearing their sunny side out. Today I have more friends and more friendly feeling for them. So the door is ajar once more. The first booklet met a welcome in many warm hearts. If this is treated likewise, it will indeed be a Merry Christmas for me.
It is a great thing to be rich—if the riches are of the right sort. It is most fortunate to be rich in friends, for without the love of friends the richest man is poor. The God who said “It is not good for man to be alone” must surely pity the friendless man. My “Special Delivery” showed me that I am right in friends. I have realized this in both wholesale and retail ways. Large groups of friends have surrounded me in times of joy and in times of sorrow, while many individuals have given me cheer and encouragement in the daily walks of life. My blessing, then, on all my friends!
While speaking of friends, let us go a little further. Would you believe it? I have friends to whom I have never spoken. You say that is an indictment of myself; perhaps so. It is the truth, whatever else it is. Perhaps in the good time coming, people who have long known each other’s name, character and condition of servitude, and who pass each other frequently, will not wait for the formal words my Mr. A, “Mr. B, let me introduce Mr. C.” While B or C says in return, “I have seen you often and known you by sight for years.” “For years;” and life so short; and friendship so good! In bold moments I have sometimes wondered if some other people would like to know me as much as I would like to know them. Be that as it may, I wish a Merry Christmas in advance to all of my friends-on-the-way.
I certainly builded better than I knew when I planned my little “Special Delivery.” The responses both as to number and character were a delightful surprise. It takes some courage to reveal yourself as I did; but it showed me that there are a great many hearts in many ways like mine, and that is a great comfort in this big world. I highly value every word of appreciation and friendship I received. If you were among those who took the time to make me glad that I had opened up, I here tender you special thanks, for you did me more good than you can ever know. And here is another Merry Christmas for you!
That bundle of letters was a delight to me, and is. I wish I could introduce you to the writers. I know them myself far better than before, thanks to my having moved first. I discovered that a lot of them did not want anything for Christmas—nothing but friendship and love. They belong to the “Have” family— the “Already Haves,” you know, and they really would like to escape being Christmasized by some of their loving and ingenious friends. This search for the odd and the new at Christmas is very hard on the giver and gibee. Then, holidays are strenuous days for finance committees—the committee of the whole, or in the hole it may be, as it seems hard to avoid the hole.
It will be a great day when—but we were talking about my bundle of letters. They came from those who are full of prosperity and happiness, and from some carrying burdens heavy beyond my powers to describe; from those up to the neck, if not over the head, in business, and from some with time to burn, as Socrates remarked; from those who are lonely and from some who are in love—plainly, and mainly, in love; from some whose hearth fire has just been lighted, and from some facing their first Christmas without their dearest; from those whose strength and spirits now seem inexhaustible, and from some who know the other life is near; from those on the King’ business, right among us, and in the uttermost parts of the earth, and from some in hospitals, where the main roads of life divide; from many everyday associates, and from people I have never seen; from men who carry the dinner pail, and men who use the surgeon’s knife; from a great company who have given me nods and smiles and handshakes; and also friendship, love and sympathy as we pass and repass on life’s crowded highway. To all and sundry of these good friends my thanks are given as I again send to each the good old unimprovable wish, a Merry Christmas.
Thinking still of my friends, let me refer to some groups: “Old folks” seems to be an elastic term depending on the user. I have pushed it ahead some years myself. Let us begin with those old folks whom slightly younger folk call “aged folks.” They were here first and are likely to leave first. There is something about these “long termers” that attracts me greatly. Character as well as fruit is at its best when it ripens. A number of these dear people wrote letters that gave me great pleasure. Some of these have proven to be farewells, as the writers have passed on into the better country. Let us all love these aged friends while we have them, endeavoring to make their twilight the most pleasant part of their day.
And there are my sick friends: Of course, they responded. Sick people have time to think and, moreover, they generally succeed in expressing themselves. Their thoughts and words are kind; that course is taught in their school. I have watched some of these brave souls for years and felt myself the better for the watching; and who has not had like experiences? In the wonderful harbor at Oyster Bay—the land-locked, hill-framed harbor that my boyhood knew—there are numerous springs. They advertise their presence in the winter by air holes in the ice, and in the summer by a chill as the swimmer strikes into their freshness. Some of these springs are on the very shores of the bay which the tide covers and lays bare. Every so often the waters of the harbor overflow and smother these springs, but as soon as the salt water blanket is withdrawn you will find the fresh water gushing forth sweet and cold from its secret laboraory, ready for all that pass that way. So with these sick friends of mine and yours; the brave spirit that is within them is now and then submerged, but again it rises and cheers us, and so shall until “the former things have passed away and there shall be no more pain.”
And here is a bunch of brides! Let us count them—one, two, three, four, five, no, there are too many. Who can compare with the brides?—new husband, new home, new life, new plans, new duties. God bless you little women, and help you all to be patient, brave, wise and loving alway. Merry Christmas to you—and him.
I heard also from some bachelors; fine letters they sent; full of the right kind of feeling. I certainly pity these chaps—and have since the day I was married. They are very cheerful in manner and generous in purse, and as they grow older they often broaden in their interests and sympathies; but there are so many real women to be found that there is little excuse for the bachelor as he baches his bachelor way. Of course, I shall not repeat what some of these fellows wrote me; but I feel how good it would be for all concerned if they qualified for the “Married-Men’s Nine” at excursion time. Then I would have more confidence in wishing them a really Merry Christmas.
Many of my replies came from ladies. Many were from mothers, engaged in the biggest and busiest of all tasks—bringing up a family. We are told the Lord loveth a cheerful giver. So do we; but when you add another “C,” and make it constant giver also, there’s another crown coming Mother’s way. Let us see that it overtakes her now and here. Other letters were from women who work out of the home. I respect and admire them. I know what many do and are. For ability, dependability, patience and tact they average very high. Some of them are too well acquainted with self-denial for their own comfort; and as for skill in making a dollar go a long way, no man can match them—If some men could match them—but they would have to be good men and get permission in the orthodox way. And there were some teachers who are trying to mold lives. Great vocation, that! Take, for instance, a large city where the work of what Zangwill calls “The Melting Pot” is being carried on; great the struggle against ignorance, indifference and superstition, and great the demand on brain, body, nerve and spirit in training little citizens. Appreciation and sympathy flavor my Merry Christmas to the many ladies who had such kind words for my “Special Delivery.”
Here’s a letter from a business man—an honest, kind, good, energetic man who does a favor in a way to please you through and through; yet I do not see how he could defend himself against the charge that he has been successful. In his boyhood it was “Goblins,” but now they tell him “The Sherman Law” will catch him if he don’t watch out. Apart from my friendship for him, I hope, for the sake of hundreds who are today better off because he has lived, that he will see many a Merry Christmas.
And here is a group of widows. I hope that you have considered the women who have had the cares and responsibilities that have taxed two people placed suddenly and entirely upon one? I am glad the Almighty has declared Himself on the side of the widow and the fatherless; for they need Him; and they need our friendship and sympathy, too. Let us join in a Merry Christmas for them.
Then, there are the kiddies. God bless them! Letters came that no one can read and yet no one fail to understand. Carefully printed letters, letters brief and disjointed, bright and well-written letters; but all so artless and sincere. A man I know divides children like this: under two, babies; two to five, brighties; five to ten, busters; from then up, huskies. I hope you are well stocked. If you have a full assortment, you are to be envied; if you are out, borrow some—at least for Christmas, for, you remember, the heart of Christmas went first to a child when it came from God.
But I really ought to “ring off.” Here’s the gist of it:—With the aid of the paperman, the ink man, the type man, the printer man, the post man, and other worthy workingmen, I am sending out another message to my friends. Is your heart atune with friendship? Is your soul aglow with good-will? Then, my friend, “God bless you and a Merry Christmas!”
Some there be,
Friends to me,
Comrades on life’s highway;
If you’re one,
Then it’s fun,
To wish you joy to-day!
— J.A. Wood (signed)