Now Christmas is over …. what did it all mean?
Now that the Christmas festivities are over, we should reflect on what it all meant, what we have learnt from it, if anything.
W.H. Auden, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Anglo-American poet known for his wit and his leftist politics, is the author of one of the most powerful poems ever on the meaning of Christmas. Auden’s “For the Time Being: A Christmas Oratorio” has been widely acclaimed by critics, including some who do not believe in Christmas, like New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik.
Towards the end of his poem Auden describes a modern Christmas, which is now over. He talks of the divine invitation to restore our faith which we all receive at Christmas, yet warns us it is not easy to hold on to that glimmer of hope and belief:
Well, so that is that. Now we must dismantle the tree,
Putting the decorations back into their cardboard boxes –
Some have got broken – and carrying them to the attic,
The holly and the mistletoe must be taken down and burnt,
And the children got ready for school.
There are enough
Left-overs to do, warmed up, for the rest of the week –
Not that we have much appetite, having drunk such a lot,
Stayed up so late, attempted – quite unsuccessfully –
To love all of our relatives, and in general
Grossly overestimated our powers.
As in previous years we have see the actual Vision and failed
To do more than entertain it as an agreeable
Possibility, once again we have sent Him away,
Begging though to remain His disobedient servant,
The promising child who cannot keep His word for long ….
To those who have seen
The Child, however dimly, however incredulously,
The Time Being is, in a sense, the most trying time of all.