Familiar Winter Ground

I remembered an old essay of C.S. Lewis’s this morning, which I haven’t read in perhaps twenty years. It seems to be from God in the Dock, although I remember it as having been published in a magazine before that. After a little googling around, I found that many other Christians remembered this essay, year by year, in their blogs. “What Christmas Means to Me” seems to be the title – I don’t have a copy of God in the Dock at hand.

Lewis soon after the war refused to buy into Christmas – what he called Exmass in another essay. He would not buy gifts or send cards, or do more than entertain (which he loved) and get some treats and trinkets for children. He  was mystified as to why Christians did not celebrate the Christ-mass as thoroughly as they ceebrated the pagan Saturnalia.

This essay certainly shaped my view of Christmas, and I am not going to go through all the points. Readers can find it for themselves – I’ll list the sites at the end of the post. But it is just as true now as it was forty or fifty years ago. I have told family and friends this year that I do not want gifts. They can contribute to a food or water charity instead. I have clothes, shelter and nourishment this winter, and I am praying for the courage to seek out a new job. I am not at all concerned about those who purportedly must sell or manufacture for Christmas. So much of what we buy now is manufactured in a totalitarian country where people have been pulled from their self-subsistence lives on the land to work in near-slave conditions. The pittance they are paid is just enough to keep the United Nations from protesting. We would, many of us anyway, be much better off providing for ourselves year-round, as best we can, than buying and selling and speculating. In effect, we have an economy where everyone is taking in each other’s laundry. (For those too young to understand, poor people in past centuries did laundry by hand for their more successful neighbours. It was a life of scalds, lye burns and chilblains, conditions we rarely see in the developed world now.)

There will be hospitality in this household this Christmas, along with prayers and trips to church. There will be treats and trinkets for the very young, and gifts made to others who are in need of some basic items. There won’t be extravagances – no diamonds or perfume or gargantuan toys. There will be love.

To see more of the C.S. Lewis essay, try http:\\rosa-sinensis.blogspot.com/2009/01/rosas-essay-archives-cs-lewis-what.html

And I like Rosa’s blog, so have a look.

And also: http:\\benwitherington.blogspot.com/2007/what-christmas-meant-to-cs-lewis.html

Ben’s blog is now at http:\\blog.beliefnet.com/bibleandculture

And if anyone can tell me how to make these links, I’d appreciate it. I am so not blog-savvy.


2 thoughts on “Familiar Winter Ground

  1. One year, maybe two years ago, I ask my family members to not give me gifts, my mother’s side. They were horrified and angry at me. My grandfather said I was being selfish because it was important to them to give gifts and I was taking away the joy they have at giving gifts. So I received gifts anyways. I do enjoy giving gifts to, so I compromise with them and receive small things. This year will be a small one, because after two weddings and a baby being born – we all have very meager incomes. Everyone seems a little down by this, but I’m perfectly content. I’m hoping it reminds my family of how important the other parts of Christmas are.

    • I think what I want for Christmas this year is enough to share with others – particularly my sons, who are both struggling with underemployment. I’d like to make a small donation to Living Water or the Salvation Army foos programme, or the local food bank as well. I admit, I re-gifted last year’s monetary gifts.

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