‘The World’s Desire’
There are two, and only two, rational attitudes towards the Christmas season. One is P.G. Wodehouse’s: “It was December, and another Christmas was at our throats.” (I quote, accurately I hope, from memory). Whether it is the forced fellowship of most Christmas parties or just a sign of descent into premature curmudgeondom, each year I find myself more and more of this persuasion, as soon as Thanksgiving disappears and the real shopping craze begins.
The other attitude, which I wish I could say is more my own, may be best represented by a man criticized sometimes from the Jansenist/”Sourpuss” chorus (to invoke a sharp category of Pope Francis’s) within the Christian persuasion:
The Christ-child lay on Mary’s lap,
His hair was like a light.
(O weary, weary were the world,
But here is all aright).
G.K. Chesterton may have smoked, drank, laughed, and enjoyed himself more than a certain type of Catholic thinks seemly. At least he was enough of a Catholic that he never tried to argue that his own religious (and other) practices should become a universal rule for the whole Church: that we should, say, try to draw out particularly uncommunicative Trappists or tell abstemious Franciscans to lighten up a little. He performed the useful service of reminding us – us weary, adult Catholics – that joy and repose either are the very heart of our faith or we may have no true faith at all.