At the senior community where I work, I heard a group in their 70s and 80s talking about how low the temperature was forecast to get that night. One of them said, I don’t like winter.” Her friend agreed, “I don’t either, and I don’t know anyone who does like winter.”
Immediately I thought of the White Witch in C.S. Lewis’ classic Chronicles of Narnia tale The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The White Witch (the Satan character) didn’t just like winter; she loved winter. It was her signature. She enslaved the whole kingdom of Narnia under a pall of ice and snow. A deadly frozen blanket. Only after Aslan the Lion, the Christ figure, killed the White Witch in the final battle, did the land return to the beauty of constant summer and joy.
Lewis wrote that Narnia under the rule of the White Witch was “always winter but never Christmas.” I often think of how applicable that expression is today. Many people live under a veritable avalanche of illness, financial stress, fear and grief. In experiencing so much pain, they can forget how to find joy in the midst. They are, as another author’s title says, in “the winter of (their) discontent.”
When I find winter weather, the sour economy, and the endless repetition of dour news getting me down, I need to stop and reassess. By that I don’t mean just to remind myself that I’m better off than probably 95% of people in the world (although most of us are). Rather I need to remember that it is possible to experience joy even in the worst situations. After all, Christmas does come in the middle of winter. So we can have joy even in adverse circumstances.
I’ve decided not to live in an “always winter but never Christmas” world. This year I’m tuning out the doom-casters and the gloom-sayers. I’m going to concentrate on what the first Christmas brought. An angel said to shepherds, the poorest of the poor, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11 NIV).
The first Christmas brought good news, great joy, and a Savior. Who doesn’t like good news? Who doesn’t want great joy? Who doesn’t need a Savior? Maybe only the White Witch and those frozen souls who follow her.