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Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

"Draw your chair nearer the blazing fire."

As enjoyable as poking fun at millionaires, politicians, and law school deans is, I am easily distracted by other things at this time of year. (Lest anyone think that my acerbic wit is diminishing, it is not. I am just exercising the will.) It is the time of year where our thoughts should turn to more jovial and happy things. C'mon folks, join me in a cup of cheer and let us leave aside diseased and terminal things and focus on this season of hope and life!

As the muted fast of Advent is quickly drawing to a close, great anticipation builds for the Christmas feast! One who understood the excitement and joy of Christmas anticipation was Charles Dickens. He is a most appropriate author for this time of year and part of our literary heritage for those of us of the English tongue. Most wonderful are these sentiments taken from his A Christmas Dinner. Do read this enjoyable tale of a family Christmas dinner:
Christmas time! That man must be a misanthrope indeed, in whose breast something like a jovial feeling is not roused--in whose mind some pleasant associations are not awakened--by the recurrence of Christmas. There are people who will tell you that Christmas is not to them what it used to be; that each succeeding Christmas has found some cherished hope, or happy prospect, of the year before, dimmed or passed away; that the present only serves to remind them of reduced circumstances and straitened incomes--of the feasts they once bestowed on hollow friends, and of the cold looks that meet them now, in adversity and misfortune. Never heed such dismal reminiscences. There are few men who have lived long enough in the world, who cannot call up such thoughts any day in the year. Then do not select the merriest of the three hundred and sixty-five for your doleful recollections, but draw your chair nearer the blazing fire--fill the glass and send round the song--and if your room be smaller than it was a dozen years ago, or if your glass be filled with reeking punch, instead of sparkling wine, put a good face on the matter, and empty it off-hand, and fill another, and troll off the old ditty you used to sing, and thank God it's no worse. Look on the merry faces of your children (if you have any) as they sit round the fire. One little seat may be empty; one slight form that gladdened the father's heart, and roused the mother's pride to look upon, may not be there. Dwell not upon the past; think not that one short year ago, the fair child now resolving into dust, sat before you, with the bloom of health upon its cheek, and the gaiety of infancy in its joyous eye. Reflect upon your present blessings--of which every man has many--not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some. Fill your glass again, with a merry face and contented heart. Our life on it, but your Christmas shall be merry, and your new year a happy one!




UPDATE: Fr. James Schall, S.J. has written an excellent piece that starts out with this quote from GKC. A great complement to the aforementioned:
Christmas . . . is one of numberless old European feasts of which the essence is the combination of religion with merry-making. But among those feasts it is also especially and distinctively English in the style of its merry-making and even in the style of its religion. For the character of Christmas (as distinct, for instance, from the continental Easter) lies chiefly in two things: first on the terrestrial side the note of comfort rather than the note of brightness and on the spiritual side, Christian charity rather than Christian ecstasy. --G. K. Chesterton, Charles Dickens, 1906

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