Christmas Thoughts, reflections, ideas, various opinions and some quotes on Christmas by the World of English and good will English-culture blog
I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.
Instead of being a time of unusual behavior, Christmas is perhaps the only time in the year when people can obey their natural impulses and express their true sentiments without feeling self-conscious and, perhaps, foolish. Christmas, in short, is about the only chance a man has to be himself.
Francis C. Farley
A man is at his finest towards the finish of the year; He is almost what he should be when the Christmas season’s here; Then he’s thinking more of others than he’s thought the months before, And the laughter of his children is a joy worth toiling for. He is less a selfish creature than at any other time; When the Christmas spirit rules him he comes close to the sublime…
Let Christmas not become a thing Merely of merchant’s trafficking, Of tinsel, bell and holly wreath And surface pleasure, but beneath The childish glamour, let us find Nourishment for soul and mind. Let us follow kinder ways Through our teeming human maze, And help the age of peace to come From a Dreamer’s martyrdom.
I hear that in many places something has happened to Christmas; that it is changing from a time of merriment and carefree gaiety to a holiday which is filled with tedium; that many people dread the day and the obligation to give Christmas presents is a nightmare to weary, bored souls; that the children of enlightened parents no longer believe in Santa Claus; that all in all, the effort to be happy and have pleasure makes many honest hearts grow dark with despair instead of beaming with good will and cheerfulness.
If a man called Christmas Day a mere hypocritical excuse for drunkeness and gluttony, that would be false, but it would have a fact hidden in it somewhere. But when Bernard Shaw says that Christmas Day is only a conspiracy kept up by Poulterers and wine merchants from strictly business motives, then he says something which is not so much false as startling and arrestingly foolish. He might as well say that the two sexes were invented by jewellers who wanted to sell wedding rings.
The great majority of people will go on observing forms that cannot be explained; they will keep Christmas Day with Christmas gifts and Christmas benedictions; they will continue to do it; and some day suddenly wake up and discover why.
We hear the beating of wings over Bethlehem and a light that is not of the sun or of the stars shines in the midnight sky. Let the beauty of the story take away all narrowness, all thought of formal creeds. Let it be remembered as a story that has happened again and again, to men of many different races, that has been expressed through many religions, that has been called by many different names. Time and space and language lay no limitations upon human brotherhood.
New York Times, 25 December 1937
Scrooge went to the church, and walked about the streets, and watched the people hurrying to and for, and patted the children on the head, and questioned beggars, and looked down into the kitchens of homes, and up to the windows, and found that everything could yield him pleasure.
I sometimes think we expect too much of Christmas Day. As for me, I like to take my Christmas a little at a time, all through the year. And thus I drift along into the holidays – let them overtake me unexpectedly – waking up some fine morning and suddenly saying to myself: “Why, this is Christmas Day!”
The universal joy of Christmas is certainly wonderful. We ring the bells when princes are born, or toll a mournful dirge when great men pass away. Nations have their red-letter days, their carnivals and festivals, but once in the year and only once, the whole world stands still to celebrate the advent of a life. Only Jesus of Nazareth claims this world-wide, undying remembrance. You cannot cut Christmas out of the Calendar, nor out of the heart of the world.
We see Jesus in the manger. We adore Him; we worship Him; we glorify Him. We stand oppressed before such love–a love stronger than death–a love so strong that it did die that we might live. We thank Thee for the sweetness of human love, but how could we ever have dared to think that such love was in the heart of God for us! We look on nature and see Thy beauty and Thy majesty, but we are afraid, for we have sinned. And then we learn that Thou has sent Thy Son, to be bone of our bone, flesh of our flesh; and before such inconceivable love we can only worship and adore. We are so weary of our failures and our slow growth toward Thee. Cleanse us deeply from sin, strengthen our moral purposes.
Maltbie Davenport Babcock
We therefore welcome our Christmas in December. The “worship of Christ” could not have a better setting than amid the domestic festivities, social forces, and generous and man helping deeds of our merry Christmas-tide. In no more fitting way can we say farewell to the closing year, and All hail! to the new. “Christ is born.” We therefore must put off the old man – his moroseness and selfishness, his sadness and despair, his peevishness and fretfulness, his feebleness and decay – and put on the new man, which, after Christ, is created in true joy, large faith, energetic service, lowly duty, devout obedience, and death-daring self-sacrifice.
If we were to fancy a wholly Christianized world, it would be a world inspired by the spirit of Christmas – a bright, friendly, beneficent, generous, sympathetic, mutually helpful world. A man who is habitually mean, selfish, narrow, is a man without Christmas in his soul. Let us cling to Christmas all the more as a day of the spirit which in every age some souls have believed to be the possible spirit of human society. The earnest faith and untiring endeavor which see in Christmas a forecast are more truly Christian, surely, than the pleasant cynicism of Atheists, etc., which smiles upon it as the festival of a futile hope. Meanwhile we may reflect that from good natured hopelessness to a Christmas world may not be farther than from star dust to a solar system.
George William Curtis
The lovely legends of the day; the stories and the songs and the half-fairy lore that gather around it; the ancient traditions of dusky woods and mystic rites; the magnificence or simplicity of Christian observance, from the pope in his triple tiara, borne upon his portative throne in gorgeous state to celebrate pontifical high mass at the great altar of St. Peter’s, to George Herbert humbly kneeling in his rustic church at Bemerton, or to the bare service in some missionary chapel upon the American frontier; the lighting of Christmas trees and hanging up of Christmas stockings, the profuse giving, the happy family meetings, the dinner, the game, the dance they are all the natural signs and symbols, the flower and fruit, of Christmas. For Christmas is the day of days which declares the universal human consciousness that peace on earth comes only from good will to men.
George William Curtis
The “first Christmas” was a simple time of beauty and wonder. The birth of Christ was less about celebration than it was about family. Though many today may grow tired of the commercialization of Christmas, in reality it has opened the door for Christ to once again become the focal point of the season, and for family, especially children, to be at the heart of the celebration.
Christmas is … a time to mark our progress through this earthly journey. Every December we can look back and marvel at the designs of God and realize how very little we are in control of the events that shaped the past year. Then, with hearts full, look to the celebration of that silent, holy night, and all its certainty. Because of Christmas, this we know: Christ was born for us. He is love, and the plans he has for us always surpass those of our own.
I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round – apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that – as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on their journeys.
More and more people each year are going abroad for Christmas… Fed up with the fact that commercial Christmas starts in October. Fed up with carols. Dreading the arrival of Christmas cards from people they have forgotten to send a card to. Unable to bear yet another family get-together with Auntie Mary puking up in the corner after sampling too much of the punch. You see in the airports the triumphant glitter in the eyes of people who are leaving it all behind, including the hundredth rerun of Miracle on 34th Street.
Christmas has been a season of mixed interests and meanings, but the very foundation, of course, is its religious significance. No matter what other personal desires or crises we have faced, I’ve never forgotten that this is the time to celebrate the birth of the Baby Jesus, and the impact of this event on the history of the world.
On Christmas Eve, down there in Texas, we always went to the church first for the lovely service, and then to the town square with its breath-taking, brilliantly lighted Christmas tree, where there were little gifts for the children. And when we woke up in the morning, there was another Christmas tree which had appeared “miraculously” as we slept; the whole family gathered around it, and again we sensed the spirit of love running through the circle. There were gifts for everyone – but not too much! How grateful I am for that now! The real gift was the love we had for one another and the sheer joy of just being together.
The herald angels are singing still, and we hear their “Peace on earth, good will to men,” once more, as we have often done. What can we do but answer back in glad strains: “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace”? It is His presence that fills our homes with mirth and song. If he will come again, turning life’s water into wine, touching our sick that they may be healed, cleansing, pardoning, blessing us all- as He will if we make room for Him – then, indeed, we must be glad.
Christian at Work
Shorn, however, as it is, of its ancient and festive honours, Christmas is still a period of delightful excitement in England. It is gratifying to see that home-feeling completely aroused which seems to hold so powerful a place in every English bosom. The preparations making on every side for the social board that is again to unite friends and kindred; the presents of good cheer passing and repassing, those tokens of regard, and quickeners of kind feelings; the evergreens distributed about houses and churches, emblems of peace and gladness; all these have the most pleasing effect in producing fond associations, and kindling benevolent sympathies.
And when we give each other Christmas gifts in His name, let us remember that He has given us the sun and the moon and the stars, and the earth with its forests and mountains and oceans – and all that lives and move upon them. He has given us all green things and everything that blossoms and bears fruit and all that we quarrel about and all that we have misused – and to save us from our foolishness, from all our sins, He came down to earth and gave us Himself.
I am sorry to have to introduce the subject of Christmas into these articles. It is an indecent subject; a cruel, gluttonous subject; a drunken, disorderly subject; a wasteful, disastrous, subject; a wicked, cadging, lying, filthy, blashphemous, and demoralizing subject. Christmas is forced on a reluctant and disgusted nation by the shopkeepers and the press: on its own merits it would wither and shrivel in the fiery breath of universal hatred; and any one who looked back to it would be turned into a pillar of greasy sausages.
George Bernard Shaw
After dinner, eaten, let it be confessed, with more haste and less accompaniment of talk than usual, the parlour doors were opened, and there stood the Christmas tree in a glow of light, its wonderful branches laden with all manner of strange fruits not to be found in the botanies. The wild shouts, the merry laughter, the cries of delight as one coveted fruit after another dropped into long-expectant arms still linger in my ears now that the little tapers are burnt out, the boughs left bare, and the actors in the perennial drama are fast asleep, with new and strange bedfellows selected from the spoils of the night. Cradled between a delightful memory and a blissful anticipation, who does not envy them?
Hamilton Wright Mabie
There is something about Christmas that requires a rug rat. Little kids make Christmas fun. I wonder if could rent one for the holidays. When I was tiny we would buy a real tree and stay up late drinking hot chocolate and finding just the right place for the special decorations. It seems like my parents gave up the magic when I figured out the Santa lie. Maybe I shouldn’t have told them I knew where the presents really came from. It broke their hearts.
Laurie Halse Anderson
There is a time and a season for all things, as we are told, and the time and the season to decorate our firesides and homes is at Yuletide, when with holly branch and mistletoe we make our Christmas green; with flowers we make it bright and fragrant; with presents we make it bountiful, and with the spirit of peace on earth, goodwill toward men, we make life worth living.
Christmas Gift Suggestions: To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity.
To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect.