“I am only one, but still I am one.
I cannot do everything, but still I can do something.
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something I can do.”

Edward Everett Hale

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Christmas Reflection - Winter 1947

I am honoured to post an editorial written by my grandfather, Alec R. Ellis, editor of the Martins Bank Magazine, and a member of Ullet Road Unitarian Church. It originally appeared in the Winter of 1947.

There is something about Christmas, some strange power for good, some mysterious spirit which gets abroad. When it is there, the tinsel and cotton wool snow in the shop windows look bright and sparkling; the week after, when the spirit has gone, the decorations look drab and tawdry. Or is it that we see them with different eyes?

On Christmas Eve, there is an air of cheerfulness and goodwill about the office, a sense of pleasurable anticipation felt by everyone. We hurry to get through our appointed tasks so that we can leave early. Some of us are going to have a memorable time, for Christmas is a time of reunion, the festival of the children and the family, when every member who can possibly do so joins the family circle.

But when Christmas is over you will find, if you inquire, that most of your colleagues have had a quiet time and have done nothing special. The young ones will have had their round of parties and merrymaking, but the older ones will have remained by their own firesides. Why, then, the keen anticipation, the gladness that Christmas is here again, when in actual practice it seems merely to be a welcome breathing space between the deposit and the current account balances?

In these days of the popular quiz, if we were to ask the question as to what is the most powerful thing in the world, someone would probably instance the atom bomb. We venture to think that few would suggest a child's cradle. Yet the thought of a child's cradle silenced the guns on the Christmas days in the first world war, and grounded the bombers in the recent war. In a world torn by hate and dominated by fear, something in the heart of man has never failed to respond to the symbolism of the cradle. Therein lies our hope for the future......

So on Christmas Eve, as we wish each other the old, old wish, let us leave the cares of the world and our workaday lives behind us for a few hours, and in the friendly light and warmth of our own homes close the door on all else. With our loved ones around us, and the echo of happy laughter in our ears, let us remember that there is something special about Christmas, something which stirs our deepest feelings and accounts for our keen anticipation of the Christmas season. Phillips Brook summed it up for us in these beautiful lines: "O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie! Above thy deep and dreamless sleep, the silent stars go by; yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light; the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight."

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