in their austerity to celebrate abstractions – when they chose to celebrate at all. To replace Christmas, the Jacobins instituted holidays in honor of Virtue, Talent, Labor, and so on. A lotta fun, those French revolutionaries. The enemies of Christmas, historically, have always been utterly humorless in this way – completely lacking in levity, mistrustful of human spontaneity and liveliness. They are therefore antithetical to the spirit of true religion, which is to see beyond the occasional gloom of the world to the luminous truth
Chesterton believed, and I’m not going to disagree. In our supposedly post-Christian age, Chesterton wrote that even secular people “will go on observing forms that cannot be explained; they will keep Christmas with Christmas gifts and Christmas benedictions; they will continue to do it; and suddenly one day they will wake up and discover why.” The joke is that Christmas, even in this attenuated form, remains the greatest evangelical tool Christians have at their disposal. One thing that is unquestionably theirs to which everyone else pays tribute, sometimes grudgingly but much more often with great, exhilarating abandon. There are some bells that can’t be un-rung – some declarations, once made, that can’t be unsaid. There is one star in the heavens that can never go dark.
I have thrown in the towel on deriding the commercialization of Christmas.
shining beneath. Angels can fly, goes the old saying, because they take themselves so lightly. What the Grinches of history have most hated about Christmas is that it was meant to give pleasure, in food and drink, in family and friendship, in faith and song. And if one of those songs is “I Want a Boob Job for Christmas”? As G.K. Chesterton, another Christian apologist, pointed out, wherever there is joy, there is apt to be vulgarity, as we tend to run away with ourselves when we are most celebratory. The Christmas of Christians survives all the vulgarity of secular Exmas excess. Or so
Andrew Ferguson is the author of several books, including Crazy U: One Dad’s Crash Course on Getting His Kid Into College. He is a former speechwriter for President George H. W. Bush and a current senior editor at The Weekly Standard.
American Consequences 33
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