Good evening, readers, whom I have been sadly neglecting this year. And merry Christmas. I am probably losing some of you due to the fact that every time I have posted recently, my post has been about Charles Dickens. It’s just that I love him, and you know how it is when you’re in love. I actually bought a Charles Dickens finger puppet/refrigerator magnet the other day. Yes, I did.
I promise that after this post, I’ll take a break from Charles Dickens. But I want to quote him in this, my annual Christmas post. (For previous years’ posts, click the “holidays” category in the menu on the left. There’s an Easter post and a Thanksgiving post in there, but other than that, they’re all about Christmas. Most years I’ve written more than one annual Christmas post.) Every year, whether I write something funny or something profound, or a little of each, my goal is to get you to think about Jesus. Christmas is his day, after all, even beyond the sense in which every day is his day.
Last night I read a few stories from a massive volume entitled The Selected Illustrated Works of Charles Dickens, purchased in the same transaction as the puppet/magnet. I came across a piece I’d never read before, “The Seven Travellers,” composed of three short stories. The piece ends with a description of the narrator’s walk home on a cold, quiet Christmas morning, during which everything reminds him of Jesus. As soon as I read these few paragraphs, I knew I’d be letting Charles write my annual Christmas post for me. Please enjoy this excerpt, and may the Founder of Christmas bless you richly. [Note: A couple of the biblical references are a little obscure–a good reason to read, or re-read, the gospels!]
When I came to the stile and footpath by which I was to diverge from the main road, I bade farewell to my last remaining Poor Traveller, and pursued my way alone. And now the mists began to rise in the most beautiful manner, and the sun to shine; and as I went on through the bracing air, seeing the hoarfrost sparkle everywhere, I felt as if all nature shared in the joy of the great Birthday.
Going through the woods, the softness of my tread upon the mossy ground and among the brown leaves enhanced the Christmas sacredness by which I felt surrounded. As the whitened stems environed me, I thought how the Founder of the time had never raised his benignant hand, save to bless and heal, except in the case of one unconscious tree. By Cobham Hall, I came to the village, and the churchyard where the dead had been quietly buried, “in the sure and certain hope” which Christmas time inspired. What children could I see at play, and not be loving of, recalling who had loved them! No garden that I passed was out of unison with the day, for I remembered that the tomb was in a garden, and that “she supposing him to be the gardener,” had said, “Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.” In time, the distant river with the ships came full in view, and with it pictures of the poor fishermen, mending their nets, who arose and followed him–of the teaching of the people from a ship pushed off a little way from shore, by reason of the multitude–of a majestic figure walking on the water, in the loneliness of night. My very shadow on the ground was eloquent of Christmas; for did not the people lay their sick where the mere shadows of the men who had heard and seen him might fall as they passed along?
Thus Christmas begirt me, far and near, until I had come to Blackheath, and had walked down the long vista of gnarled old trees in Greenwich Park, and was being steam-rattled through the mists now closing in once more, towards the lights of London. Brightly they shone, but not so brightly as my own fire, and the bright faces around it, when we came together to celebrate the day.