Friday, December 10, 2004

What Christmas Means To Me

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 probably 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.
~C.S. Lewis, "What Christmas Means To Me", (1st published in Twentieth Century, December 1957)

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On this day:

1824 George MacDonald, of whose writing Lewis would later say, "What it did to me was to convert, even to baptize...my imagination," is born in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

Cool link:

Play the Holiday Endurance Game

2 Comment(s):

At Fri Dec 10, 08:34:00 PM EST, Blogger Sandicomm said...

But... doesn't he contradict himself? "But what I approve of much more is everybody minding his own business. ...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." I am SO confused. Let people celebrate Christmas how they want to, man! Sheesh!

Oh, and he forgot a fourth reason for celebrating Christmas: assimilation! Whooh! At least, that's why my family started celebrating it, once upon a time. (And, no, we don't have a Christmas ham at our dinner.)

 
At Fri Dec 10, 10:58:00 PM EST, Blogger Arevanye said...

I know! He is such a curmudgeon here, isn't he? Gosh, slap a scarf on him and he might be mistaken for Scrooge!

I think of course he has a point about the over-commercialization of Christmas, and he really doesn't condemn all gift giving, just obligatory gift-giving.

Perhaps it was just the prevailing atmosphere of his set of friends at the time. I know that in my family, Christmas is really for the children. Gift giving among the adults is really not that big of a deal at all. And I do send out cards, but mostly just to show everyone how cute my kids are... (winks)

 

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