Was C.S. Lewis the Grinch?
OST Christians consider C.S. Lewis to be a warm symbol of the holiday season, expecially since he included “Father Christmas” in his first Narnia story. Yet, a deeper lookin in his diary, letters, and essays shows Lewis was more of the Grinch. What do you think?
In preparation for an article to be published later this month, I embarked on a survey of Lewis’s thoughts on the Christmas season. I think most would be surpised. Lewis hated it. Here are some highlights, or lowlights depending on your perspective, of C.S. Lewis’s views of the holiday season from his letters:
“The weather forecast promises us Christmas weather over the holiday, and it is a prospect which I regard with very mixed feelings; I’m getting too old for ice and snow . . . “ (12/21/50)
“I am knee deep in the hideous task of dealing with my Christmas mail.” (Dec 21, 1950)
“ . . . we-like you not doubt- are in the climax of the ‘Christmas rush,’ a time which I always regard with horror. I hope I am not a Scrooge, but with every year that passes I find myself more and more in revolt¬¬ against the commercialized racket of ‘Xmas.” (12/19/1952)
“How wretchedly the Christian festival of Christmas has got snowed under by all the fuss and racket of commercialized ‘Xmas’. (12/20/1952)
“… oh if we could have Christmas without ‘Xmas'” (12/21/1953)
“And not for piles of Christmas letters: many of them, unlike yours, from people I don’t want to write to at all.” (12/26/1953)
“I feel exactly as you do about this horrid commercial racket they have made out of Christmas. I send no cards and give no presents except to children.” (12/27/1953)
“… for Christmas mails have ‘got me down’. This season is to me mainly hard, grueling work – write, write, write, till I wickedly say that if there were less good will (going through the post) there would be more peace on earth.” (1/1/1954)
“You behaved like an angel in not writing at Christmas or the New Year: that whole period is to me simply one long imposition.” (2/8/1954)
“I feel very strongly as you do about the hollowness of all this interminable ‘Xmas’ racket and the slightness of its connection with the real Christmas.” (12/7/1954)
“Thank you very much for the card -as a logician, if nothing else, I like them to have some connexion with Christmas!” (12/22/1954)
On “re-gifting” – Lewis told his best friend from childhood, “Someimte after Sep 15 a copy of my autobiography will arrive for you. You can always sell it or give it as a Christmas present, you know!” (8/18/55)
“I’m afraid I hate the weeks just before Christmas, and so much of the fuss has nothting to dod with the Nativity at all. I wish we didn’t live in a world where buying and selling things (especially selling) seems to have become almost more important than either producing or using them.” (12/19/55)
To his godchild, “Somehow the while horrible business of ‘Xmas’ (which I distinguish sharply from Christmas), with the huge mails coming in every half hour, has quite got me down this year and I wasn’t really in my right mind till yesterday evening.” (12/27/55)
Christmas is “Just a hurried line.” …. “My brother heard a woman on a a’bus say, as the ‘bus passed a church with Crib outside it, “Oh Lor’! They bring religion into everything. Look – they’re dragging it even into Christmas now.” (12/29/1958)
“Let us . . . make a compact that, if we are both alive next year, whenever we write to one another it shall not be at Christmas time. That period is becoming a sort of nightmare to me – it means endless quill drivin!” (12/22/1959)
“With all blessings for a happy celebration of the real Christmas, and good wishes for 1961.” (12/10/1960)
“Every year the merciless spate of correspondence makes this season more penitential and less festal for me . . . . I forget whether you know that my wife died in July.” (12/3/1961)
“I discovered only the other day that Christmas presents had begun in the time of St. Austine’s, and he called them ‘diabolical’” (12/10/1961)
“I have a non aggression pact about Christmas Boxes with all my real friends. Leave that to relations! St. Augsutine, by the way, said that Christmas presents were ‘diabolical’! (12/111962)
I’ll keep you updated for when and where my article will be published. It will provide both color and context for Lewis’s view of Christmas. Stay tuned.