For many, the holidays can be a frenzied and highly-emotional time.
"At our house, the family's been out of sorts two weeks, buying things and mailing things, trying not to forget anyone that they ought to send to, or give presents that are cheap or too expensive. And the children are all sore at what they did get or didn't get," one man remarked.
When asked what Christmas meant to him, another man had this to say: "It's the day when you get what you don't want, and when you give people a lot of things that probably they don't want."
These comments could very easily be a part of just about any present-day conversation. What's interesting is that they were made 100 years ago in Tamaqua. The remarks were included in an editorial in the Tamaqua Courier titled The Christmas Grouch.
After presenting these man-on-the-street comments – a kind of forerunner for today's Reader's Turn feature – the opinion writer suggested that they too were likely searching for happiness. He used some some colorful language, illustrating his point by referring to happiness as a person.
"Happiness cannot be seized by the hair and dragged off by human muscle," he said. "Don't expect she will hunt you up as you are cramming your head with business facts in your office or house keeping fineries in your drawing rooms."
To find the illusive happiness, he said, one must leave the security of home and office and reach out to others.
"After you have forgotten yourself in the lives of others, when you return home you will find happiness smiling on you from your own threshold," he said.
In his 1911 column, the local columnist ended by stressing the importance of little things – such as a simple note or card – for the holidays.
"If you cannot get into your automobile and distribute flour and sugar to the poor, just see how much pleasure you can give some lonely old couple merely by sending them a post card," he said.
It is quite amazing and heart-warming to see how some of the most meaningful Christmas moments and lessons of the season have been able to stand the test of time – even over a full century.
By Jim Zbick