“The family meeting was warm and affectionate; as the evening was far advanced, the Squire would not permit us to change our travelling dresses, but ushered us at once to the company, which was assembled in a large old-fashioned hall. It was composed of different branches of a numerous family connection, where there were the usual proportion of old uncles and aunts, comfortably married dames, superannuated spinsters, blooming country cousins, half-fledged striplings, and bright-eyed boarding-school hoydens.
“They were variously occupied; some at a round game of cards; others conversing around the fireplace; at one end of the hall was a group of the young folks, some nearly grown up, others of a more tender and budding age, fully engrossed by a merry game; and a profusion of wooden horses, penny trumpets, and tattered dolls, about the floor, showed traces of a troop of little fairy beings, who having frolicked through a happy day, had been carried off to slumber through a peaceful night.”
From “Reindeer Games” in The Old Magic of Christmas by Linda Raedisch:
“We know that Santa Claus took his name, if not his character, from the fourth-century St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra in Asia Minor. His headquarters, therefore, really ought to be in Turkey, perhaps among the outbuildings of some crumbling mountain monastery….
“There, elves bearded and hooded like orthodox monks would whittle away by the light of the beeswax candles, all the while conversing quietly in New Testament Greek. Under the smudged gaze of the icons, they would keep themselves busy boxing up batches of Turkish delight to distribute to the world’s children. Or, Santa might have placed his enterprise further to the east, amid the snows of Mount Ararat, where the wrecked stalls of Noah’s ark would be put to good use again as workshops and warehouses….
“What better setting for the elves as they carve all those toy animals?”
“For some minutes Alice stood without speaking, looking out in all directions over the country — and a most curious country it was. There were a number of tiny little brooks running straight across it from side to side, and the ground between was divided up into squares by a number of little green hedges, that reached from brook to brook.
“‘I declare it’s marked out just like a large chessboard!’ Alice said at last. ‘There ought to be some men moving about somewhere and so there are!’ she added in a tone of delight, and her heart began to beat quick with excitement as she went on. ‘It’s a great huge game of Chess that’s being played all over the world — if this is the world at all, you know. Oh, what fun it is! How I wish I was one of them! I wouldn’t mind being a Pawn, if only I might join — though of course I should like to be a Queen, best.’”