Thursday, November 16, 2006

It's always Christmas

I have long been a lover of Christmas.

It is a time of wonder, of joy, of mystery.

It is a link to childhood and happy times – and, of course, to that Holy Event some 2,000 years ago when the world received its greatest gift.

And then there is Santa Claus. Some folks have argued that the focus on him has led us to forget what Christmas is really about, so we should stop all this Santa nonsense and just reflect on the truth of the day and season.

I say that view itself is nonsense!

Santa is a symbol of Christ. He is the selfless giver who miraculously enters our homes – and our hearts – just as Christ entered our world. He is a taste of the joy of the shepherd and the angels singing Halleluiah! He is a reminder of all the wonder and awe of childhood – and of that Holy Child.

Even those who do not know Christ or who have forgotten him and the true meaning of Christmas get a glimpse of him and that meaning through Santa. And that glimpse might open the door to a fuller understanding.

He gives us a gift-wrapped box which, if we open it with open eyes and heart, is filled with the gift of faith.

As I begin another season of being one of Santa’s helpers, I think back to something Chesterton said.

If ever a faith is firmly grounded again, it will be at least interesting to notice those few things that have bridged the gulf, that stood firm when faith was lost, and were still standing when it was found again. Of these really interesting things one, in all probability, will be the English celebration of Christmas. Father Christmas was with us when the fairies departed; and please God he will still be with us when the gods return. Of course, it is covered up, like every other living thing, with a sort of moss of convention and the unmeaning use of words . . . There is nothing really wrong with the whole modern world except that it does not fit in with Christmas. The modern world will have to fit in with Christmas or die . . . All Christmas feasts, all Christmas freaks, are founded on human equality: at least, upon what is now called equality of opportunity . . . The real basis of life is not scientific; the strongest basis of life is sentimental. People are not economically obliged to live. Anybody can die for nothing. People romantically desire to live - especially at Christmas.

{"The Wrong Books at Christmas," The Illustrated London News, 9 January 1909}

As for me, I celebrate Christmas year round, for the gift given us never ends.

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