Christmas Eve Meditation

12.24.20 | Holy Orders

    The Cultivation of Christmas Trees
    By T.S. Eliot


    There are several attitudes towards Christmas,

    Some of which we may disregard:

    The social, the torpid, the patently commercial,

    The rowdy (the pubs being open till midnight),

    And the childish — which is not that of the child

    For whom the candle is a star, and the gilded angel

    Spreading its wings at the summit of the tree

    Is not only a decoration, but an angel.


    The child wonders at the Christmas Tree:

    Let him continue in the spirit of wonder

    At the Feast as an event not accepted as a pretext;

    So that the glittering rapture, the amazement

    Of the first-remembered Christmas Tree,

    So that the surprises, delight in new possessions

    (Each one with its peculiar and exciting smell),

    The expectation of the goose or turkey

    And the expected awe on its appearance,


    So that the reverence and the gaiety

    May not be forgotten in later experience,

    In the bored habituation, the fatigue, the tedium,

    The awareness of death, the consciousness of failure,

    Or in the piety of the convert

    Which may be tainted with a self-conceit

    Displeasing to God and disrespectful to children

    (And here I remember also with gratitude

    St. Lucy, her carol, and her crown of fire):


    So that before the end, the eightieth Christmas

    (By “eightieth” meaning whichever is last)

    The accumulated memories of annual emotion

    May be concentrated into a great joy

    Which shall be also a great fear, as on the occasion

    When fear came upon every soul:

    Because the beginning shall remind us of the end

    And the first coming of the second coming.