By Nathan Barton
Merry Christmas. Although I do not celebrate this day as a religious holiday, but simply a family event (yes, there are many people who are followers of the Christ who do NOT celebrate Christmas as the birthday of their Lord), I know that it is important to many people. And if the spirit of Christmas in giving and love could expand even a little bit past midnight on 25 December (or even midnight on Twelfth Night, 06 January), the world would be a better place.
Here are a few stories to think about and enjoy for the season:
A “YouTube” artist (your guess is as good as mine!) gave a homeless man a $100 gift, and then watched and recorded as the man immediately headed for a liquor store, sure his gift would go to booze. To his surprise and happiness, the man instead bought food and went back to his normal stomping grounds to give the food to other homeless people.
I heard the Bells on Christmas Day is a well-known and loved carol, but few people know it was written by the celebrated American poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, during the War between the States. Today, just five verses are sung, and two are left out. Here are those verses, originally the 4th and 5th:
Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
It is easier to understand the significance of the verses we now sing as the fourth and fifth (and end of the carol):
And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said:
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”
To learn the full history, go to this site which tells Longfellow’s tale. For a recording of all seven verses, visit this YouTube page. Like many (if not enough) in the North, Longfellow saw the War of Northern Aggression for the evil that it was.
In a more secular vein, and oriented on peace and not war, the story of how A Christmas Carol came to be written is also of benefit to those who labor to defend and expand liberty for all. You can read it here.
For folks interested in something besides the usual, mass-media Christmas stories, may I suggest some alternatives?
L. Frank Baum, author of the Oz stories (themselves originally a political allegory) also wrote “A Kidnapped Santa Claus” a neat short story. Any resemblance of the “Daemons” to government is purely in our heads and hearts.
O. Henry, whose best known Christmas story is “The Gift of the Magi” also wrote this western “A Chaparral Christmas Gift” which is a parable of a time when people didn’t scream for the government to help at the first sign of trouble.
“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.” – Oren Arnold
Perhaps today is most notable because it is the 100th Anniversary of the wonderful Christmas Truce of 1914, when British and German troops, for just a few hours, refused to fight the senseless war which pitted their two nations against each other in a horrific and tragic tale of alliances gone wrong. I cannot better Norman Horn’s two commentaries on this event, this shining moment in 4+ years of darkness and evil. Please read “When Horror Took A Holiday,” and his follow-up “The Christmas Truce, Then and Now.” Another good article is found in Freedom Outpost. And view this wonderful commercial, which was amazingly condemned by too many people, Sainsbury’s “Official 2014 Christmas Advertisement.”
Christmas is for Sharing.