Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tomorrow, December

Tomorrow is December 1st, and though I can hardly believe it is already here, I thought it would be fitting to write a note about the lovely Christmas season which is now upon us.  However, all that I really want to say has already been written by the man himself, Mr. Lewis.  Please allow Clive to express the sentiments I share but cannot write nearly so eloquently.

And please remember while reading this that I adore Christmas.  I love everything about it.

Except the song Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.  I despise that song.

I always have, and I don't have any definitive reasons as to why.

But I digress.

Back to Clive, and his delicious essay, "What Christmas Means to Me," from God in the Dock:

Three things go by the name of Christmas. One is a religious festival. This is important and obligatory for Christians; but as it can be of no interest to anyone else, I shall naturally say no more about it here. The second (it has complex historical connections with the first, but we needn’t go into them) is a popular holiday, an occasion for merry-making and hospitality. If it were my business to have a ‘view’ on this, I should say that I much approve of merry-making. But what I approve of much more is everybody minding his own business. I see no reason why I should volunteer views as to how other people should spend their own money in their own leisure among their own friends. It is highly probable that they want my advice on such matters as little as I want theirs.

But the third thing called Christmas is unfortunately everyone’s business. I mean of course the commercial racket. The interchange of presents was a very small ingredient in the older English festivity. Mr. Pickwick took a cod with him to Dingley Dell; the reformed Scrooge ordered a turkey for his clerk; lovers sent love gifts; toys and fruit were given to children. But the idea that not only all friends but even all acquaintances should give one another presents, or at least send one another cards, is quite modern and has been forced upon us by the shopkeepers. Neither of these circumstances is in itself a reason for condemning it. I condemn it on the following grounds.

1. It gives on the whole much more pain than pleasure. You have only to stay over Christmas with a family who seriously try to ‘keep’ it (in its third, or commercial, aspect) in order to see that the thing is a nightmare. Long before December 25th everyone is worn out — physically worn out by weeks of daily struggle in overcrowded shops, mentally worn out by the effort to remember all the right recipients and to think out suitable gifts for them. They are in no trim for merry-making; much less (if they should want to) to take part in a religious act. They look far more as if there had been a long illness in the house.

2. Most of it is involuntary. The modern rule is that anyone can force you to give him a present by sending you a quite unprovoked present of his own. It is almost a blackmail. Who has not heard the wail of despair, and indeed of resentment, when, at the last moment, just as everyone hoped that the nuisance was over for one more year, the unwanted gift from Mrs. Busy (whom we hardly remember) flops unwelcomed through the letter-box, and back to the dreadful shops one of us has to go?

3. Things are given as presents which no mortal ever bought for himself — gaudy and useless gadgets, ‘novelties’ because no one was ever fool enough to make their like before. Have we really no better use for materials and for human skill and time than to spend them on all this rubbish?

4. The nuisance. For after all, during the racket we still have all our ordinary and necessary shopping to do, and the racket trebles the labour of it.

We are told that the whole dreary business must go on because it is good for trade. It is in fact merely one annual symptom of that lunatic condition of our country, and indeed of the world, in which everyone lives by persuading everyone else to buy things. I don’t know the way out. But can it really be my duty to buy and receive masses of junk every winter just to help the shopkeepers? If the worst comes to the worst I’d sooner give them money for nothing and write if off as a charity. For nothing? Why, better for nothing than for a nuisance.

I also fully appreciate this video put together by the people at Advent Conspiracy.

I like it all.  And just to be clear, I mean no offense to those who love the shopping side of Christmas.  I never enjoy shopping, so when you add rude Christmas crowds to the equation, it becomes particularly dreadful to me.

Happy December!  Tomorrow I make my red and green chain, which will complete the Christmas decorations of the Swenson home.


  1. This is perfect. I've been less and less interested in gifts when it comes to this time of year. I'd prefer a sweet or funny card. Maybe a practical gift like cozy socks or something. ;) Anyway, I love this.

  2. Great job Kimberly - can't wait to see pictures of the completed Swenson home :)

  3. I always think of you during this time of you. This is right...and I much, much, much more enjoy the merry-making part of the season. I want to be with my family when they are relaxed and full of live and have energy to engaged in meaningful conversations. We have severely reduced our gift giving over the years. Every year I ask for time...stuff is stuff and while I will spend too long on Pinterest wishing I had stuff, I really just want time with those I love.

    I hate stores...they stress me out...especially during this time.

    Wishing you and wonderful December full of thankfulness, smiles, joy, peace and most of all....HOPE!

    Love you!



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