Reflections on the season of Christmas

Editorial

Posted: Friday, December 21, 2007

It was December 1864 when Henry Wadsworth Longfellow penned the words to the poem "Christmas Bells." The nation was embroiled in Civil War, and Longfellow's son had been wounded in battle. His wife had died in a tragic fire accident a few years before. The poem eventually became the carol "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" with a slight re-arrangement of stanzas by John Baptiste Calkin.

While much has changed since Longfellow wrote his poem, much has remained the same. As Christmas Day 2007 approaches, Longfellow's poem continues to offer hope to a world at war.

I heard the bells on Christmas day

Their old familiar carols play

And mild and sweet the words repeat,

Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how as the day had come,

The belfries of all Christendom

Had rolled along the unbroken song

Of peace on earth, good will to men.

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."

'Til ringing, singing on its way,

The world revolved from night to day,

A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,

Of peace on earth, good will to men!

Other Christmas writings capture the magic and meaning of the Christmas season in serious and whimsical ways. A few of our favorites:

"And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more."

Dr. Seuss

"Perhaps the best Yuletide decoration is being wreathed in smiles."

Unknown

"I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year."

Charles Dickens

"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."

Editorial in the New York Sun, 1897, responding to a letter from 8-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon

"A lovely thing about Christmas is that it's compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together."

Garrison Keillor

"Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart."

Washington Irving

"In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it 'Christmas' and went to church; the Jews called it 'Hanukkah' and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say 'Merry Christmas!' or 'Happy Hanukkah!' or (to the atheists) 'Look out for the wall!'"

Dave Barry, in

"Christmas Shopping: A Survivor's Guide"

And the one that started it all: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."

Luke 2:14



CONTACT US

  • Switchboard: 907-283-7551
  • Circulation and Delivery: 907-283-3584
  • Newsroom Fax: 907-283-3299
  • Business Fax: 907-283-3299
  • Accounts Receivable: 907-335-1257
  • View the Staff Directory
  • or Send feedback

ADVERTISING

SUBSCRIBER SERVICES

SOCIAL NETWORKING

MORRIS ALASKA NEWS