Always Winter, Never Christmas

This is a repost of a post I wrote for a different blog. I like it. I hope you do, too.

The title of this post is Narnian, a description of the world as it was when in the grip of the White Witch. Coincidentally, Dante saw the lowest circle of Hell as equally cold and inert, with Satan eternally gnawing on the trapped souls frozen into his maw. Hardly a satisfying meal.

The description, to my mind, is apt, if not for the dead, then for the living. When I am wracked with sin or tormented by my failings, static is how I feel. That I will never change, that I cannot change. There is no hope, no future, only an everlasting present of pain, sorrow, disappointment, despair, anger, bitterness, etc. In these moments, I often find that, although I rationally know that they can’t go on forever, I can’t really believe that. I am stuck in a pattern of sin, because it is all that I know how to do, all I can do. I am inert.

Winter is my least favorite of the seasons (perhaps because I grew up in Florida). While I enjoy snowfall as much as anyone (I had a branch president on my mission tell me that “winter covers all our sins in white”), eventually the vantage point changes to a miasma of dirt, grime, ice, and soot. There is no hidden sin here as the white brings out all the spotty rotten color of the world and it is all a dull-gray muddy brown. There is no joy here.

And then we get Christmas. I know some people complain because Christ very probably wasn’t born on Christmas and that we are actually celebrating a pagan holiday. I know that some people believe that Christian aspects of of Christmas are being swallowed up in the consumerism of our national day of spending. But I don’t buy it.

So long as Christmas exists, then here is hope, joy, and peace in the midst of despair. A reason to smile on a dark, dreary plain. A warm spark in the twilight, frozen world wherein our dirt and filth is shown back to us in high contrast. It gives us light in the midst of the darkest part of our year.

When I was a kid, one of my favorite books was Rabbit Hill. Naturally, I read its sequel, The Tough Winter. I hated it. The nice bunnies and other denizens of Rabbit Hill were being put through such a tough time and I couldn’t understand why. In the midst of it came Christmas. Some kind soul laid out a feast for the starving denizens of Rabbit Hill, who hadn’t eaten for so long.

Christmas is our feast, a reminder of the true bread and the true water that came down to feed us. It is a gift, given us by kind caretakers and good providers. In the wake of the Narnia movie, many critics dryly noted that Father Christmas provides the Pevensies with weapons. But Christmas is a weapon, an opportunity to fight back at the dark that envelops us and gain a little breathing room that can last until the coming of spring, signalled by the commemoration of the death of Him whose birth we celebrate today. It is appropriate, perhaps necessary, that the winter of our discontent be broken midway by a reminder of Him who broke its back.

I know that we are all at different stages in our spiritual lives, but I get the impression that we are all believers. Please, use Christmas as a moment to celebrate that which is good and useful in the world and revel in the knowledge that winter, in life as in Narnia, will eventually end and the sun and flowers will shine upon us again.

Comments

  1. Eric Russell says:

    John, you’ve got a lot of nerve to publish a post with this title at BCC.

  2. Steve Evans says:

    lols, all around.

  3. Never had a drop, but I think I need a long drink. How do we nominate something as masterpiece status?

  4. John C,

    While this is a thoughtful, even hopeful, post, I had to look at this line, and laugh:

    I know that some people believe that Christian aspects of of Christmas are being swallowed up in the consumerism of our national day of spending. But I don’t buy it.

    And if Christmas is a weapon, here is the perfect gift.

    Now that I’ve made a complete fool of myself, the juxtaposition of Christmas with the Winter Solstice really does make the holiday a renewal of faith and hope. Looking forward to the day, really.

  5. Beautiful post.

  6. Dagnabit,I was working on a Christmas / winter post, and you said everything I wanted to say much better than I was going to say it. Excellent, excellent work, and thanks for reminding me of Rabbit Hill.

  7. Nice sentiments, John C.

    For those who don’t get Eric Russell’s “you’ve got a lot of nerve” comment in #1, see this post from the Millennial Star archives. The author was not very kind to BCC . . .

  8. karma, CE. Karma

  9. #7, Winter came indeed. No spring yet…

    There is indeed something poignant about celebrating the birth of the Savior coming off of the Winter Solstice–the slow, distant promise of renewal–and celebrating His at the time when renewal is in full force. Profound.

    Three cheers for Pagans.

  10. I remember reading the original post at Various Stages on the day it was posted there.

    Beautiful.

    Merry Christmas John.

  11. John, I really like this post. It reminds me of Orson F. Whitney’s hymn, The Wintry Day, Descending to its Close, that has this line:

    Pale through the gloom the newly fallen snow
    Wraps in a shroud the silent earth below
    As though ’twere mercy’s hand had spread the pall,
    A symbol of forgiveness unto all.

  12. John C, I’ve been hanging around here for a year or so, and as such am not up on all the inside stories, but I’m getting there. I read your post, then read comments 1 – 3, and started wondering what I was missing. After a second reading, I didn’t know if you were being serious or joking around, hence the nature of my confused post # 4.

    People around here, except for the trolls, seem to have pretty thick skins, so I hope an apology is okay still, but I now have read the old M* posting, and am glad to be known amongst the White Witch’s useful idiots.

    I had just been reading Newsweek last night about the new personal Tasers, so when I read “Christmas is a Weapon”, my inner 14 year old responded as he is wont to do, without much forethought.

    Turkish Delight for all on me.

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