A Christmas Carol, and another

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I recently re-read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. It’s a familiar story to many, of course, and a dramatically emotional one as we meet the sour, shriveled Ebenezer Scrooge and accompany his journey through the sentimental past, the vibrant but unknown-to-him present, and the chilling future, coming through at last to the ecstasy of Christmas morning. The season hardly seems complete until one has read or at least watched a movie of this now-traditional tale.

But there’s another “A Christmas Carol” which I favor. After the ups and downs of the more well-known one, I return again and again to this one: a glimpse from a little distance of the intimate moments between a mother and child, tender and comforting and holy.

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.)

The Christ-child lay on Mary’s breast,
His hair was like a star.
(O stern and cunning are the kings,
But here the true hearts are.)

The Christ-child lay on Mary’s heart,
His hair was like a fire.
(O weary, weary is the world,
But here the world’s desire.)

The Christ-child stood at Mary’s knee,
His hair was like a crown,
And all the flowers looked up at,
And all the stars looked down.

~G.K. Chesteron

 

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