Wednesday, December 29, 2021
Thursday, December 23, 2021
(I have been writing a book called Santa's Diary. One of the entries deals with a familiar fellow.)
The question I dealt with yesterday about retirement is often linked with another question (sometimes stated, often not): If I ever stopped being Santa Claus, who could take my place?
Mind you, I am Santa only by the will and grace of God. The Lord could just as
easily choose someone else to play my role.
When I look back at history, I see so many people who could play the role. Francis of Assisi, for example. There was a man who had the Christmas spirit. (Though that dear little man would have a hard time fitting in my suit!) And, of course, Charles Dickens is often credited with helping to save Christmas. I fear he might have failed the "saint" test, though.
But If I had to pick just one person, it would be Gilbert Keith Chesterton.
Ho! There’s a man who could fill my suit! In fact, they’d have to let it out!
But beyond his physical size, he was a man who truly loved Christmas.
He wrote essays about it. He cited the feast again and again in his works. He wrote poetry about it.
And he appreciated me. Rather, he appreciated what I represent.
In writing about the loss of a sense of faith in one essay he said, “Father Christmas was with us when the fairies departed; and please God he will still be with us when the gods return.”
Yes, in all modesty, I must admit that all the stories that have grown up around me help to keep alive the sense of wonder and magic, the belief in something that can’t be explained, even in a time when faith is treated as something embarrassing.
In one of his books he wrote, "Father Christmas is not an allegory of snow and holly; he is not merely the stuff called snow afterwards artificially given a human form, like a snow man. He is something that gives a new meaning to the white world and the evergreens, so that the snow itself seems to be warm rather than cold.”
Perhaps that is part of the magic. Not my magic, of course, but the magic of belief.
As for those who don’t believe, he wrote in one essay, “Personally, of course, I believe in Santa Claus; but it is a season of forgiveness, and I will forgive others for not doing so.”
How like the man. That spirit was one reason why even the people he debated respected and loved him. That is part of what would have made him a good Santa.
We met a couple of time. In one essay he described one of our conversations, though, of course, he changed some things around to suit his purpose. He had us meet in a toy shop and had me lamenting the modern world. The conversation actually took place during a meal in a tavern. And I seem to recall some of the lamenting was on his part.
I remember fondly the first time I met him as an adult.
I was in his home delivering gifts (some items for his toy theater), when he walked into the room. I sank back into the shadows, and he did not see me. Even if I hadn’t sunk into the shadows, I’m not sure he would have seen me anyway. As usual, he was lost in thought.
He stopped in the middle of the room, and said loudly, questioningly, “Slipper.”
I looked at his feet. Sure enough, he had only one slipper on.
“Slipper,” he said again.
Then suddenly he walked over to a tall bookcase and reached up to the top.
He brought down a slipper, and a book that had been under it, propped open.
He looked at the book, reading a little from the open page. He chuckled, and then walked out of the room, slipper and book in hand.
I reminded him of the moment years later. He did not remember it.
But he did remember the toy theater items I brought.
Yes, Chesterton would have made a fine Santa.
Of course, given his absent-minded ways, who knows what gifts would have ended up where. Why, if he was bringing a book to someone, he might have just sat down to read it, and when the children rushed down to open their gifts on Christmas morning they might have found him still sitting there, reading, and laughing out loud.
Very Santa-like image, I’d say.
Saturday, December 18, 2021
C.S. Lewis observed in - Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories:
“An unliterary man may be defined as one who reads books once only. . . . We do not enjoy a story fully at the first reading. Not till the curiosity, the sheer narrative lust, has been given its sop and laid asleep, are we at leisure to savour the real beauties. Till then, it is like wasting great wine on a ravenous natural thirst which merely wants cold wetness.”
Friday, December 10, 2021
Freelance writer Shemaiah Gonzalez has a wonderful take on Advent, using Chesterton as a focus ("Chesterton: Advent waiting is a gift"):
Writer G.K. Chesterton appreciated how waiting could be a gift. To Chesterton, waiting opened possibility:
“Around every corner is another gift waiting to surprise us, and it will surprise us if we can achieve control over our natural tendencies to make comparisons (to things that are better rather than things that are worse), to take things for granted … and to feel entitled!”
To see her full essay, go to Chesterton: Advent waiting is a gift