Christmas Eve ; Time of Deep Feelings

By Gzedit | The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV), December 24, 2012 | Go to article overview

Christmas Eve ; Time of Deep Feelings


Gzedit, The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV)


THE wonderful season of caring and family closeness is upon us, bringing special feelings that are almost magical.

It's hard to fathom why late December holds such power. The Bible doesn't specify this time for the birth of Jesus. In fact, most scholars think he was born in springtime, but the Vatican later picked Dec. 25 to co-opt pagan fests of the winter solstice.

Nonetheless, this spot on the calendar has profound meaning. During World War I, troops in trenches sang hymns to the enemy on Christmas eve, temporarily refusing to kill. The date has grown into the Western world's exquisite holiday, a tender period of compassion and family warmth.

As usual, we honor this season by reprinting some nuggets of holiday wisdom.

***

"Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful." - Norman Vincent Peale

***

"A Christmas Day, to be perfect, should be clear and cold, with holly branches in berry, a blazing fire, a dinner with mince pies, and games and forfeits in the evening. You cannot have it in perfection if you are very fine and fashionable." - Leigh Hunt, quoted in A Year of Sunshine

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"Was there ever a wider and more loving conspiracy than that which keeps the venerable figure of Santa Claus from slipping away, with all the other old-time myths, into the forsaken wonderland of the past?" - Hamilton Wright Mabie, My Study Fire

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"Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas, how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith, then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished." - editorial in the New York Sun, December 1897, in response to an 8- year-old girl's inquiry letter

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"Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveler, thousands of miles away, back to his own fireside and his quiet home." - Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers, 1836

***

"[Christmas is] 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." - Dickens, A Christmas Carol, 1843, quoted by Charleston minister Jim Lewis in his newsletter.

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"One doesn't forget the rounded wonder in the eyes of a boy as he comes bursting upstairs on Christmas morning and finds the two- wheeler or the fire truck of which for weeks he scarcely dared dream." - Max Lerner, The Unfinished Country

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"At Christmas I no more desire a rose than wish a snow in May's new-fangled mirth." - Shakespeare, Love's Labor's Lost

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"I do hope your Christmas has had a little touch of eternity in among the rush and pitter-patter and all. It always seems such a mixing of this world and the next - but that after all is the idea." - Evelyn Underhill, private letter

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"Christmas was invented several centuries after the birth of Jesus, an effort by the Church of Rome to quiet internal dissent and to compete with the cults of such popular gods as Mithra. …

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