Toasts and Forms of Public Address



The Day of Good-will–to The Cold Weather without and the Warm Hearts within–to The Christmas Tree, which grows in a Night and is plucked in the Morning by the gladdest of fingers–to The Day in which Religion gives sweetness to Social Life–Christmas Gifts; may they bless the Giver not less than the Receiver–to The Oldest of our Festivals, which grows mellower and sweeter with the passage of the centuries–to St. Nicholas [or Santa Claus], the only saint Protestants worship–to A Merry Day that leaves no heart-ache–to A Good Christmas, may sleighing, gifts, and feasting crowd out all gambling and drunkenness.


The good cheer enjoyed on this merriest day of the year. How the little people look forward to it. It comes to the older ones as a joy, and yet tender and sad with the memories of other Christmases. The religious and the secular elements of the day. The countries where it is most observed. The long contest between the two days, Thanksgiving and Christmas. The compromise that Massachusetts and Virginia, New England and the South, have unanimously agreed upon; namely, to keep both days.


The speaker assumes that the observance of the day is becoming obsolete, and that there are persons who wish it to die out. The assumption, though rather strained, affords the opportunity to demolish this man of straw. “All other kings may go, but no one can spare King Christmas, or St. Nicholas, his prime minister. School-rooms and nurseries would rebel. And plum pudding is too strongly entrenched in Church and State to be dislodged. Washington Irving, with his _Sketch Book_, would protest. Best argument of all is the worth of the Christmas entertainments. Here’s to the Festival of Festivals, and long may its honors be done by such hosts as entertain us to-day.”


Coming at the beginning of the farmer’s rest, when the harvest is all gathered, this is a very joyous festival, and more than any other abounds in family reunions. Any toast therefore is appropriate which tells of the harvest, of fertility, of the closing year, of the family pride and traditions, of pleasure to young and old. At dinner, turkey and mince or pumpkin pie will of course be served, and these national favorites must not be forgotten by the toastmaker.

This day, too, has an official and governmental flavor given to it by the State and national proclamations which fix the date and invite its observance. Usually, these enumerate the blessings enjoyed by the whole country during the year, and suggest topics peculiarly fitting for toasts. It is perhaps not too much to say that Thanksgiving is distinctly _the_ American Festival, and should be honored accordingly.


To The Inventor of Pumpkin Pie–to Peace with all Nations–to The Rulers of our Country–to The Farmer–to Full Stomachs and Merry Hearts–to their Excellencies, the President and the Governor; may we obey all their commands as willingly as when they tell us to feast–Abounding Plenty; may we always remember the Source from which our benefits come–Our two National Fowls, the American Eagle and the Thanksgiving Turkey; may the one give us peace for all our States and the other a piece for all our plates–The Turkey and the Eagle; we love to have the one soar high, but wish the other to roost low–The Great American Birds; may we have them where we love them best, the Turkeys on our tables and the Eagles in our pockets.


The manner in which the day was first instituted. The sore struggles and the small beginnings of that day compared with the greatness and abounding prosperity of the present. The warfare between Christmas and Thanksgiving, the one being thought the badge of popery and prelacy. The Battle of the Pies, pumpkin and mince, terminating in a treaty of peace and alliance; and now we can enjoy the nightmare by feasting on both combined! The national blessings of the year; the poorest have more now than kings and emperors had five hundred years ago. Exemption from wars. Internal peace. Willingness and habit of settling every domestic dispute by the ballot, and not the bullet. The increasing tendency to arbitrate between nations, thus avoiding the horrors of war. The beneficence of our government and the ease with which its operations rest upon our shoulders. The wonderful progress of science and invention, and the manner in which these have added to the comfort of all the people.


Why we ought to be grateful to the old Puritans, with all their faults. Their unsuccessful warfare on plum pudding, which, like truth, “crushed to earth,” rose again. Their discovery and enshrining of Turkey. On this day the Nation gathers as a family at the Thanksgiving board, and from all parts of the world the wanderers come home to the family feast. The duty of Happiness, joined to gratitude, is emphasized this day. The closing toast, “The Federal Eagle and the Festal Turkey; may we always have peace under the wings of the one, and be able to obtain a piece from the breast of the other.”