Christmas at Washington Place, 1858.


Christmas—passed off in the good old fashioned style. The eve was ushered in by the assemblage, about 7 o’clock, of a large number of children and their parents at Washington Place, the Mansion of Mrs. Dominis, where Santa Claus had given out that he would hold his court, and distribute the gifts which he had ordered for the occasion. A magnificent “Christmas Tree” had been provided in one of the upper chambers, and the little folks, as they gathered about it with sparkling eyes and clattering tongues, found it all lighted up with candles, and the branches bending under the weight of gifts. Prompt as old father Time ever was, the bells were heard at the windows announcing:

“A miniature sleigh with eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver so lively and queer.”

In a moment old Santa Claus was heard at the door, and in a twinkling more he stood before the youthful group, who greeted him with a volley of merry shouts. He came dressed in the garb in which children love to imagine the saintly old elf.

“He was dressed all in fur from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, opening his pack.
His eyes, how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses; his nose like a cherry;
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And his beard on his chin was as white as the snow.
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave them to know they had nothing to dread.”

For an hour, or while he was bestowing his gifts with princely lavishness among the hundred children present, there was one of the happiest groups ever witnessed in Honolulu. He had a gift for every one, and bestowed it with a facetiousness that added much to the enjoyment of the occasion and gained him a host of friends among the juveniles, who will long continue to talk of Santa Claus of Washington Place. After the tree was lightened of its burden of presents, some of which we noticed were quite costly, the old saint bid the little folks a hearty good-bye and vanished:

“He sprang to his sleigh, to his team he gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle;
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
‘Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.'”

The whole affair was got up and executed with good taste. After the gifts were distributed the children were invited to a liberal repast prepared by the generous hostess. As the little folks retired to their homes their places were filled with an assemblage of ladies and gentlemen, and the evening was spent in dancing. At 10 o’clock on Christmas forenoon the Episcopal service was performed by Rev. Mr. Arthy, on board the Calypso, which had been gaily decked for the holiday. At half past eleven Episcopal service was also performed by the same gentleman at the Bethel, which was well filled.

(Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 12/30/1858, p. 2)


The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, Volume III, Number 27, Page 2. December 30, 1858.


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