En route to the Cities in late November, I heard Bing Crosby and Ella Fitzgerald’s version of “A Marshmallow World,” a song popularized by another of my favorite vintage voices, Dean Martin. The song is delightful in its naïveté. Try looking out your window on a frosty morning and seeing not snowplows, tangled traffic and hours of scraping and scooping in the cold wind, but whipped cream and marshmallows. Sounds delicious.
I was recently paging through “Winter Fire: Christmas with G.K. Chesterton,” a new compilation of his Christmas-themed writings – beautifully hardbound and gold-foiled, illustrated with Victorian Christmas prints. I skimmed the first half, an Advent study with author Ryan Whitaker Smith’s reflections, and headed straight to Chesterton’s work. Famously jolly, verbose and witty, Chesterton wrote essays that sometimes veered dour – more commentary on all that is wrong with the world – so I skipped the dreary stuff, and found something sweeter and fluffier:
“Once I only thanked Santa Claus for a few dolls and crackers. Now, I thank him for stars and street faces, and wine and the great sea. Once I thought it delightful and astonishing to find a present so big that it only went halfway into the stocking. Now I am delighted and astonished every morning to find a present so big that it takes two stockings to hold it, and then leaves a great deal outside; it is the large and preposterous present of myself, as to the origin of which I can offer no suggestion except that Santa Claus gave it to me in a fit of peculiarly fantastic goodwill.”
Yes, of course, he’s being deliberately amusing, and you serious-minded types can replace “Santa Claus” with “Jesus” if it bothers you. But I hope it won’t. Christmas is a time for joy and wonder, and putting aside all the stresses, strains and sorrows of everyday life. Let your heart be light!