A.J. DiCintio
Christmas times four
By A.J. DiCintio
December 24, 2009

For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!"

One might write thousands of words in an attempt to capture the essence of the Original and Real Christmas; but the truth is that those few from Luke say everything we need to know regarding the Christmas about a Power greater than humans, the Christmas about faith, love, hope, redemption, moral guidance, and spiritual salve, the Christmas that, for two millennia, has guided and inestimably enriched the lives of millions.

In addition to that Christmas, there is the Christmas of appurtenances, from artistic masterpieces to ordinary signs of the season which, at their best, create memories that serve as life-long fonts of indescribable joy and prompts to insight.

The joy is exemplified by James Joyce's autobiographical Portrait, which puts readers into the mind of a young Irish boy making his first return home from boarding school:

Going home for the holidays! That would be lovely: the fellows had told him. . . The lovely smell there was in the wintry air: the smell of Clane: rain and wintry air and turf smouldering . . .The telegraph poles were passing, passing. The train went on and on. It knew. There were lanterns in the hall of his father's house and ropes of green branches. There were holly and ivy round the pierglass and holly and ivy, green and red, twined round the chandeliers. There were red holly and green ivy round the old portraits on the walls. Holly and ivy for him and for Christmas.

The second by Fitzgerald's Gatsby, when Nick Carraway, a stranger in the obscene land that is the East of the Roaring Twenties, grows in self-knowledge as he recalls Christmas trains that puffed their way through his youth:

One of my most vivid memories is of coming back West from prep school and later from college at Christmas time. . . the long green tickets clasped tight in our gloved hands. And last the murky yellow cars of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul railroad looking cheerful as Christmas itself. . . We drew in deep breaths of it as we walked back from dinner through the cold vestibules, unutterably aware of our identity with this country for one strange hour, before we melted indistinguishably into it again. That's my Middle West — not the wheat or the prairies or the lost Swede towns, but the thrilling returning trains of my youth, and the street lamps and sleigh bells in the frosty dark and the shadows of holly wreaths thrown by lighted windows on the snow.

There is also the Christmas of non-Christians and atheists who perceive the holiday as an exquisite expression of the human need for God, a need that allows human beings to avoid living a truly natural life in all the astonishing brutality such an existence entails.

So it is that the Deist Jefferson — whose invocation of the "Creator" in the Declaration reveals his refusal to lie that he had discovered human rights in nature — proclaimed that the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger grew up to preach a "system of morality" that is "the most benevolent & sublime probably that has been ever taught."

Finally, there is the Christmas of those who claim to disbelieve in any metaphysical reality but never explain how they employed the Scientific Method to arrive at the mountain of "moral imperatives" they would arrogantly force upon the nation, even the world, through the power of the governmental gun.

Disregarding the love of power and neurotic guilt that impel them to make a religion of politics and gods of politicians, these frauds blow long and hard about their intellectual superiority.

How superbly appropriate it is, therefore, that on a bitterly cold Christmas Eve when others are enjoying the warm, joyous confines of churches and decorated homes, they may be found standing ice footed and icicled nosed, slipping and sliding in the middle of the street, their numbed eyes scanning the purposeless, uncaring stars, hoping to find one that sends a message about human rights or delivers a lesson about comprehending right and wrong, good and bad, beautiful and ugly.

© A.J. DiCintio


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A.J. DiCintio

A.J. DiCintio posts regularly at RenewAmerica and YourNews.com. He first exercised his polemical skills arguing with friends on the street corners of the working class neighborhood where he grew up. Retired from teaching, he now applies those skills, somewhat honed and polished by experience, to social/political affairs.


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