As the happy, homeward-bound student is whirled along towards his Christmas fireside, his mind filled with anticipations of Germans and New Year's calls, does he once think of the handful of his comrades whom circumstances of one sort or another keep behind in these loved but somewhat desolate halls? Does he imagine what anguish will be theirs when the music of the Janitor's matins fails to reach their ears, or how they will miss the cheery hum of their classmates' voices from early morn till morn again? I fear not. Such is the selfishness of the undergraduate mind. And, after all, Cambridge in vacation is not so bad a place. It is true, the Yard is dreary and forlorn enough; but within, the fire burns as brightly as ever. And then you are never quite alone; it always happens that a small number of other fellows are left here in the same predicament as yourself. With these, for a brief season, you become more intimate than with dearest brothers; and in many, with whom before, perhaps, you have had a mere speaking acquaintance, you discover some unexpectedly congenial trait of character, and they are admitted to your choice friendship.
Then what an opportunity of following his own sweet will does vacation here offer to each man! The inveterate "grind" may pursue his favorite study all day long with no interruption from noisy neighbors. The "loafer" realizes the complete heaven of college with voluntary prayers, voluntary recitations, voluntary everything! (which means, to him, none of these little annoyances.) He is free to sleep all day and misuse all the starry night; he is summoned to no exercise except his meals. This brings us to Commons. How unlike the stale routine of term-time is this our holiday bill-of-fare! Ancient mutton and the cheerful bean give place to the monstrous turkey and savory viands in three courses. The tables groan under their unaccustomed burden, and the marble bust of our benefactor looks down upon the feast with an astonished but approving smile. How welcome is the after-dinner nap, undisturbed by that execrable four o'clock bell! And then, with a social game at whist in the evening, we forget that we are homeless.
The athlete, too, has abundant chance for exercise. The ice at Fresh Pond is black and smooth (unless it rains, as it has done, most of the time, for the past fortnight), and the celebrated pleasures of the "ringing steel" are at his command. The Brighton Road, too, in sleighing-time, affords a lively and interesting scene. How much better to enjoy it on foot than to run the risk of one of those dreadful accidents which happen every day to drivers there!
You must not suppose that the holidays are forgotten here, or that the time-honored custom of "seeing the Old Year out" is allowed to fall into neglect. The merry wassail draught at the last stroke of twelve, and, later, the joyful ring around the old rebellion tree (?), are religiously observed, and then we all go to bed with dozens of the best resolutions in the world for the New Year.