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What Christmas Means to Me (C.S. Lewis)

From God in the Dock—Essays on Theology and Ethics by C. S. Lewis, published by William B. Eerdman’s Publishing Co. © 1970 The Trustees of the Estate of C.S. Lewis, first appearing December, 1957

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 too 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?

  1. Things are given as presents which no mortal every bought for himself — gaudy and useless gadgets, ‘novelties’ bbecause 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?

  2. 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.

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2021 in Christmas

 

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On Becoming Seventy! A Few Reflections (Part 3 of 7) V=VICTORY!

Groundhogs’ Day. February 2nd. That’s my birthday! Now, I think that Groundhogs’ Day ought to be declared a national holiday. This furry creature comes out of its comfortable underground home to prognosticate about the next six weeks of weather — Surely that deserves to be honored as a national holiday!

But it’s also my birthday. My 70th birthday. And as it approaches, I want to think about a couple of issues before it is “here.”

We’ve thought about the letter “S” (survival!). We’ve also thought about the letter “E” (for engagement).  I’m at a bit of a loss when it comes to the letter “V.” There is the word verisimilitude which means “the appearance or semblance of truth; likelihood; probability: The play lacked verisimilitude.” But that one doesn’t work. Other “V” words may fit. Veracity — I try to be honest in my dealings with others. Vivacious? Hmmm. Not so much.

I know! How about the word VICTORIOUS?! Seventy years have brought me many victories because of the Lord. I know that I am “more than a conqueror” though Him who loved me (Romans 8:37). I’ve had a few tennis and table tennis victories — and I’ve got a couple of trophies gathering dust to prove it.

How about in life? I thank the Lord for the VICTORIES of a son and a daughter who love the Lord, have married well, and have provided Linda and me with seven beautiful grandchildren!

I certainly believe I have been VICTORIOUS in love. Linda and I will celebrate our 49th wedding anniversary this coming June.

Yes. VICTORIOUS! We read in I Corinthians 15:57- “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The Psalmist reminds us in Psalm 44:4- “It was not by their sword that they won the land, nor did their arm bring them victory; it was your right hand, your arm, and the light of your face, for you loved them.” He also tells us that “the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory (149:4). John writes that “everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.”

Pray with me? “Lord of VICTORY, help me to invest my days and years into worthwhile errands for You. Give me VICTORY, Lord, in those things that really count. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

 

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2020 in 70th birthday

 

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