Sunday, December 19, 2004

Generosity and Gratitude

Following WWII, the people of Europe had been left hungry and miserable and the economies of most European countries were in ruin. Lewis's many American fans took it upon themselves to send him numerous care packages to supplement the meager food rations available:

"frost" by Francois Horneborg (computer drawn)
My dear Mr. Allen,

I just don't know what to say in answer to your letter of 23rd January. One, two, perhaps even three parcels can be inadequately but not entirely unsuitably acknowledged, but what is one to say when bombarded with a non-stop stream of kindnesses? Nothing has in my time made such a profound impression in this country as the amazing outburst of individual American generosity which has followed on the disclosure of our economic situation. (I say nothing of government action, because naturally this strikes the 'man in the street' much less obviously). The length of time which a parcel takes to cross the Atlantic is a significant indication of the volume of food which must be pouring into England.

As regards the 'Tuxedo -- 'dinner jacket' here, 'le smoking' in Paris -- if it doesn't fit me, it will certainly fit one of my friends, and will save some grateful man a year's clothing coupons: and at least £25 cash.

As regards things to send-- don't send any of that 66 million tons of snow, thanks very much! We still shudder when we think of last winter*. A packet or two of envelopes are almost always welcome**; a small thing, but the constant shortage of them becomes very irritating to a busy man after a time. With heartiest thanks for all your great kindness, and best good wishes,
Yours sincerely,
C.S. Lewis

The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis Volume II, Letter to Edward A. Allen, 29 January 1948

* The British winter of 1947 was one of the coldest since records began in 1740. Between 22 January and 17 March snow fell every day somewhere in Britain, and the temperature rarely rose more than a degree or two above freezing.

**subsequent letters indicate Mr. Allen did send Lewis a substantial stock of stationery.

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Cool link of the day: Sponsor a care package for the troops overseas

1 Comment(s):

At Tue Dec 21, 12:01:00 PM EST, Blogger CarolynVB said...

Aw, he sent stationery. Simple things become so important and hard to come by. I love these letters...makes me remember actually writing letters! My stationery drawer has been idle too long. Methinks a letter overseas with a care package might be in order!

p.s. Great link of the day, K! Thanks for posting it!


(And that's a beautiful picture. Looks like a photo!)

 

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