Mr. Stevens was not an unduly sentimental man; no more so, probably, than the average. It was only that by instinct he had taught himself to relieve the drabness of his days by painting red letters to all that could possibly bear the title.
It was entirely by instinct that he did this: entirely subconsciously — for he would have been the last to regard his life as drab. It would be more just, perhaps, to say that he had the gift of establishing domestic 'Occasions,' which do so much to strengthen the links of a home.
Something almost in the nature of a ritual surrounded these special days: a ritual that bound the family together in though and deed.
Christmas Eve; Whit Monday; August Bank Holiday and family birthdays were painted with letters of carefree, flamboyant scarlet. New Year's Eve, and Going Away Eve had titles of a more delicate, meditative red: the former because of its wistful plea to strengthen fading hopes, the latter because it heralded the yearly release of emotions which Mr. Stevens neither wished nor sought to analyse and understand.
The man on his holidays becomes the man he might have been, the man he could have been, had things worked out a little differently. All men are equal on their holidays; all are free to dream their castles without thought of expense, or skill of architect. Dreams based upon such delicate fabric must be nursed with reverence and held away from the crude light of tomorrow week.
Woman Reading in a Garden, by Henri Lebasque, found here}