I had an inspiration and a thought for Christmas that I wanted to write about, and it seemed good and important enough to try and do something about it. I found a moment I could manage to steal away, and I sat down to write. What I wrote came in verse – but it wasn’t great verse. I didn’t feel quite right about it, and my husband (to whom all things written are submitted for critical opinion) also didn’t love it. I was disappointed, and I set aside some time later to work on it some more. I changed the meter, and it worked; I liked it better. I still was not entirely satisfied (because when is a woman entirely satisfied?), but as that time called “Christmas Day” was present, I posted my little poem. I called it The Gifts of His Child. Later, we wanted to find something good to read with the kids. Shawn found this bit from MacDonald, and read it to me. Here, in all its golden glory, was the very idea, the thoughts I had wanted (and tried, though poorly) to convey in my poem. Far better than mine, not by a mile, but by miles and miles. I am not frustrated, nor confounded, nor ashamed. I will probably go back and re-visit my little ouvre and try to strengthen its little branches of thought, and reach them up better to the light. But I know enough to recognize when that spirit is present in a work, and I can be humble enough to kneel, and thank God for the golden ones. Perhaps it could be said that the force is strong with this one. Whatever might be said about him, I hope this from George brings you joy, and the stirrings of the call of spring echo in your soul, as they did for me.
Merry New Year!
“It is not the high summer alone that is God’s. The winter also is His. And into His winter He came to visit us. And all man’s winters are His—the winter of our poverty, the winter of our sorrow, the winter of our unhappiness—even ‘the winter of our discontent.'”
I stole a glance at Adela. Her large eyes were fixed on the preacher.
“Winter,” he went on, “does not belong to death, although the outside of it looks like death. Beneath the snow, the grass is growing. Below the frost, the roots are warm and alive. Winter is only a spring too weak and feeble for us to see that it is living. The cold does for all things what the gardener has sometimes to do for valuable trees: he must half kill them before they will bear any fruit. Winter is in truth the small beginnings of the spring.” I glanced at Adela again; and still her eyes were fastened on the speaker.
“The winter is the childhood of the year. Into this childhood of the year came the child Jesus; and into this childhood of the year must we all descend. It is as if God spoke to each of us according to our need: My son, my daughter, you are growing old and cunning; you must grow a child again, with my son, this blessed birth-time. You are growing old and selfish; you must become a child. You are growing old and careful; you must become a child. You are growing old and distrustful; you must become a child. You are growing old and petty, and weak, and foolish; you must become a child—my child, like the baby there, that strong sunrise of faith and hope and love, lying in his mother’s arms in the stable.
“But one may say to me: ‘You are talking in a dream. The Son of God is a child no longer. He is the King of Heaven.’ True, my friends. But He who is the Unchangeable, could never become anything that He was not always, for that would be to change. He is as much a child now as ever he was. When he became a child, it was only to show us by itself, that we might understand it better, what he was always in his deepest nature. And when he was a child, he was not less the King of Heaven; for it is in virtue of his childhood, of his sonship, that he is Lord of Heaven and of Earth—’for of such’—namely, of children—’is the kingdom of heaven.’ And, therefore, when we think of the baby now, it is still of the Son of man, of the King of men, that we think. And all the feelings that the thought of that babe can wake in us, are as true now as they were on that first Christmas day, when Mary covered from the cold his little naked feet, ere long to be washed with the tears of repentant women, and nailed by the hands of thoughtless men, who knew not what they did, to the cross of fainting, and desolation, and death.” Adela was hiding her face now.
“So, my friends, let us be children this Christmas. Of course, when I say to anyone, ‘You must be like a child,’ I mean a good child. A naughty child is not a child as long as his naughtiness lasts. He is not what God meant when He said, ‘I will make a child.’ Think of the best child you know—the one who has filled you with most admiration. It is his child-likeness that has so delighted you. It is because he is so true to the child-nature that you admire him. Jesus is like that child. You must be like that child. But you cannot help knowing some faults in him—some things that are like ill-grown men and women. Jesus is not like him, there. Think of the best child you can imagine; nay, think of a better than you can imagine—of the one that God thinks of when he invents a child in the depth of his fatherhood: such child-like men and women must you one day become; and what day better to begin, than this blessed Christmas Morn? Let such a child be born in your hearts this day. Take the child Jesus to your bosoms, into your very souls, and let him grow there till he is one with your every thought, and purpose, and hope. As a good child born in a family will make the family good; so Jesus, born into the world, will make the world good at last. And this perfect child, born in your hearts, will make your hearts good; and that is God’s best gift to you.
“Then be happy this Christmas Day; for to you a child is born. Childless women, this infant is yours—wives or maidens. Fathers and mothers, he is your first-born, and he will save his brethren. Eat and drink, and be merry and kind, for the love of God is the source of all joy and all good things, and this love is present in the child Jesus.—Now, to God the Father, &c.”
“O my baby Lord!” I said in my heart; for the clergyman had forgotten me, and said nothing about us old bachelors.
Excerpt From: George MacDonald. “The Complete Works of George MacDonald (Illustrated Edition).” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/complete-works-george-macdonald-illustrated-edition/id1255572713