Christmas 2015; A Carol for Children

Veteran followers of may recall that two years ago at Christmas, we posted an Ogden Nash poem, “A Carol for Children.”  The poem was published in The New Yorker in December, 1935 and reprinted by The New York Times as its lead editorial on Christmas Day, 1978.  In each case, the poem spoke to the troubled times at hand and we felt that it was equally appropriate in 2013. Last year, we reached the same conclusion and, sadly, it seems even more compelling this year.

The poem is not a “merry” one at all and the tradition that we carry on is one that we would like to find reason to discontinue. Yet surely Christmas is a time to look past Santa and Rudolf, egg nog and tinsel, and reflect on the more serious meaning of the occasion. And what can be more central to that meaning than the promise of a better world for our children and generations to come.

A Carol for Children

God rest you, merry Innocents,
Let nothing you dismay,
Let nothing wound an eager heart
Upon this Christmas Day.

Yours be the genial holly wreaths,
The stockings and the tree;
An aged world to you bequeaths
Its own forgotten glee.

Soon, soon enough come crueler gifts,
The anger and the tears;
Between you now there sparsely drifts
A handful yet of years.

Oh dimly, dimly glows the star
Through the electric throng;
The bidding in temple and bazaar
Drowns out the silver song.

The ancient altar smokes afresh,
The ancient idols stir;
Faint in the reek of burning flesh
Sink frankincense and myrrh.

Gaspar, Balthasar, Melchior!
Where are your offerings now?
What greetings to the Prince of War,
His darkly branded brow?

Two ultimate laws alone we know,
The ledger and the sword –
So far away, so long ago,
We lost the infant Lord.

Only the children clasp his hand;
His voice speaks low to them,
And still for them the shining band
Wings over Bethlehem.

God rest you, merry Innocents,
While innocence endures.
A sweeter Christmas than we to ours
May you bequeath to yours.

                  * * * *

We noted last year what while we do not hesitate to extend to everyone our own “Merry Christmas,” we recognize that the values of Christmas we hold dear—peace, love and reconciliation—are not the exclusive province of one religion or indeed of all religions. And we expressed the hope that everyone might embrace the Christmas spirit and mark the occasion in ways that are meaningful to them.  Indeed, we think that it would be a particularly appropriate time for those of us who are Christians to extend our hand of friendship to the millions of Muslims in this country and around the world who reject the violence of a few and who yearn for peace no less than we do.

7 thoughts on “Christmas 2015; A Carol for Children

  • A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and Angela, Doug. May 2016 exceed our expectations. Sadly, as you note, the bar is low.

  • Well done and well said. Extending the hand of friendship would indeed be a fitting tribute to our Lord.

  • Doug: You and Ogden reign supreme! There is no better time of year than the shorter darker days of the winter solstice to contemplate what sort of world we will leave for the world’s children. A confirmed Democrat as you know, I applaud you for continuing the fight to bring sanity and respect to the national political debate and bring balance to the partisan teeter-totter once more.

  • We have no choice but to pursue peace, unless we just capitulate to hatred and war. Reference Longfellow’s; “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”. The endless dilemma and challenge for those of any stripe who would long for a world of peace and leave a better world to our children.

    Thanks Mr. Doug Parker — Ogden lives!

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