A Haven for Vee

Thursday, January 3, 2008

A Thought or Two About Dismantling Christmas

A repairman is coming at noon to fix the bay window. The first task of the morning was to take down the candy cane garland strung across the bay window. Then down came the little tree, the decorative tins, the Christmas cards, etc., etc. Now the window sits looking stark, naked, awful.

Ever read W.H. Auden's Christmas Oratorio? It's from his book of collected poems. I read it as an essay more than a poem...have I mentioned how much I love essays and essayists? Probably. I think it's why I am so attracted to the world of Blogdom.

Anyway, I've tried without success to find Christmas Oratorio already posted on the web so I could share it without worry of copyrights. Instead, I'll have to hope that you may be intrigued enough to visit your local library or, if you're really blessed, to have it as part of your own collection.

Christmas Oratorio

Well, so that is that. Now we must dismantle the tree,
Putting the decorations back into their cardboard boxes—
Some have gotten broken—and carrying them up
to the attic.
The holly and the mistletoe must be taken down and
And the children got ready for school. There are enough
Leftovers 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 our relatives, and in general
Grossly overestimated our powers. Once again
As in previous years we have seen the actual Vision and
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.
The Christmas Feast is already a fading memory,
And already the mind begins to be vaguely aware
Of an unpleasant whiff of apprehension at the thought
Of Lent and Good Friday which cannot, after all, now
Be very far off. But, for the time being, here we all are,
Back in the moderate Aristotelian city
Of darning and the Eight-Fifteen, where Euclid's
And Newton's mechanics would account for our
And the kitchen table exists because I scrub it.
It seems to have shrunk during the holidays. The streets
Are much narrower than we remembered; we had
The office was as depressing as this. To those who have
The Child, however dimly, however incredulously,
The Time Being is, in a sense, the most trying time
of all.
For the innocent children who whispered excitedly
Outside the locked door where they knew the presents
to be
Grew up when it opened. Now, recollecting that moment
We can repress the joy, but the guilt remains conscious;
Remembering the stable where for once in our lives
Everything became a You and nothing was an It.
And craving the sensations but ignoring the cause,
We look around for something, no matter what, to inhibit
Our self-reflection, and the obvious thing for that purpose
Would be some great suffering. So, once we have met
the Son,
We are tempted ever to pray to the Father;
"Lead us into temptation and evil for our sake."
They will come, all right, don't worry; probably
in a form
That we do not expect, and certainly with a force
More dreadful that we can imagine. In the meantime
There are bills to be paid, machines to keep in repair,
Irregular verbs to learn, The Time Being to redeem
From insignificance. The happy morning is over,
The night of agony still to come; the time is in noon:
When the Spirit must practise his scales of rejoicing
Without even a hostile audience, and the Soul endure
A silence that is neither for nor against her faith
That God's Will will be done, that, in spite of her
God will cheat no one, not even the world of its triumph.

~W.H. Auden


  1. Thanks for the Auden-in-the-morning. Wonderful thoughts. Though I think I need another cup of coffee because when I first read the entry I thought it said, "A Christmas Ontario". Hmmmmm, Christmas in Ontario? OK. Love the Bon Ami photo. I haven't seen that in the stores around here for a long time. I use Barkeepers Friend.

  2. Good 'food for thought', Vee! Let's not pack away the Reason for the season.
    Do you use Bon Ami to clean the peppers? Nice photo!

  3. Rather a dreary time of year for me. I don't like dismantling Christmas nor cleaning the house, nor trying to be inspired at the office. Ugh. I want more holidays...

  4. I love Auden...his works are exquisitely put down. Thanks for sharing

  5. Vee,
    Thanks for the visit. I am still feeling yucky but then again how is a 101 year old woman supposed to feel? I look forward to this years blogging adventure with you!

  6. My Hubby wanted to leave the Nativity scene out year round....and the ceramic Santas...and the Giant Nutcracker,,,,I had to put my foot down.

    Loved the post..I had never seen that before.

  7. I forgot to say - I love your quote of the month. It is so true.

  8. I never read this essay, Vee, so I'm glad you put the link to it on your sidebar. Auden certainly had a way with words. While we look ahead to a new year we also have to keep our hearts turned toward our faith and "peace on earth, goodwill towards men."