Ryan Landry, I think it was, was recently speculating on the “magic” of Christmas, but couldn’t think where it came from.
I think I know. The magic of Christmas is the solstice, the very dark, cold time of year. It’s more pronounced at northern latitudes, which is why Christmas is a northern holiday.
The world gets dark and cold, and for a while it’s scary and uncomfortable. There is an English poem titled “November”, by Thomas Hood-
No sun–no moon!
No morn–no noon!
No dawn–no dusk–no proper time of day–
No sky–no earthly view–
No distance looking blue–
No road–no street–no “t’other side this way”–
No end to any Row–
No indications where the Crescents go–
No top to any steeple–
No recognitions of familiar people–
No courtesies for showing ’em–
No knowing ’em!
No traveling at all–no locomotion–
No inkling of the way–no notion–
“No go” by land or ocean–
No mail–no post–
No news from any foreign coast–
No Park, no Ring, no afternoon gentility–
No company–no nobility–
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member–
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds–
England is of course very cloudy, making the coming of winter even more dismaying.
But after some time, things settle down. The snow comes, and the cold. Everything is quiet. Cold air transmits sound more easily, so it should be noisier, but it seems to make things more quiet. One adapts to the routine of winter, which is doing nothing much inside where it’s warm. Occasional forays are made outside, for supplies or sometimes to play in the snow. You see the world is not dead, but sleeping peacefully. You watch the hush, the dark night, the bright stars, and the magical snow. Then you realize it’s freezing and get back inside.
By the time the solstice comes, winter seems like it’s not so bad, a chance to rest. The Northern soul is constantly struggling with nature, and needs this forced rest. Spring won’t be too far away.
Then comes January, and February, and March, and it seems like it will never end. Your hockey team sucks, and you are sick of dressing like an Eskimo every time you go out.
But that’s later. For now we can enjoy the dark, cold, sleeping world and have cookies.
Merry Christmas! God Jul!