Visions of Christmas Past- Redux

The Christmas season is upon us, and even I can’t put it off any longer! I thought that it might be fun to take a look at it from two different points of view, looking back and looking forward.  Today, let’s look back…

For me, the notion of Christmas in the Victorian era is a great one; it somehow seems so innocent and wholesome.  I don’t know why this is, maybe I’m just a sucker for that period, but somehow things just seem more simple.  My honest guess is that this would amuse the people who lived then, but what the heck, let’s deck the halls!

Of course you would have to start out with your Christmas cards, this was the era that invented them, and since internet connections weren’t that great in those days, everyone would actually write them and send them in the mail!

OK, try to picture this: People would go about town singing Christmas Carols in public!  Apparently the ACLU was asleep on the job in those days: Horror!


People did crazy things like look out for their neighbors, give gifts to them and carol in their yards to bring festive cheer and love into their lives… I must say that we are much better off today because instead of having to go out and do things like that, we can download a movie about other people doing it and feel just as good in the warmth and security of our own homes…

Then it would be time to get the house ready for the big day.  If you were well-to-do, you might go out and buy fancy ornaments for your tree, but if you weren’t, homemade ones were perfectly fine too.  In fact, a great deal of their decorating involved people coming together to make things and spend time together.

When the time came, everyone in the family would come together to celebrate.  Gifts were exchanged; often the gifts were hand-made as well as the decorations.  For most people, gifts that their loved ones made themselves were as good as the store-bought ones, because they were made out of love for one another.

And of course, if there weren’t any gifts, that’s OK too… they would spend time in each other’s company.  I guess that’s why the Christmas season in the Victorian context seems more innocent to me… or maybe there wasn’t anything good on TV; who can say?

Of course, I’ve been having a little fun with this comparison, but please don’t get the idea that I don’t appreciate the season in our own times; it’s a wonderful time… and let’s be honest, it’s what you make of it.

If we’re all caught up in the material and commercial aspect of it, it won’t be as much fun as it could have been.  I’m all for Christmas Simplification!  Why not just be happy with the Day, what it means and with one another’s’ company?

Of course my kids just call me “Scrooge”!

One last thing, I came across this video from 1898 called “Santa Claus” and I had to include it here, even though it’s a bit off-topic.  It’s pretty short; you’ve got to check it out.  It is charming in its simplicity…

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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31 Responses to Visions of Christmas Past- Redux

  1. Mia Squires says:

    I agree with the simplicity of Christmas. The other day a parishioner came up to me and asked how to decorate the church. My reply was simplicity, her look was priceless! I explained that a few green garland and a few candles would be good. She then replied with, “What about a Christmas tree?”
    “Same thing, just a small tree we can plant in the spring, or use one of the potted ficus trees, with homemade ornaments from the children,” I replied.
    I smiled at this because I grew up with a “Charlie Brown” tree and gifts. (I still do!)
    Thank you for this look to the past.
    Many Blessings.

  2. Good reminder. I wonder if the stress level was as high as it is now? Probably not much of a difference. Although don’t get me going on Rudolph….

  3. I like the “picture” of Christmas you painted.

  4. I certainly identify with your reflections on wishing for a more human Christmas. I used to live in Toledo, OH, and we once toured the Rutherford B. Hayes house in Fremont at Christmas. It was decorated per the period; I’m sure you’d love it.

    But I’m going to possibly out-Scrooge you here. God made sure the Jews would remember when the Exodus happened as well as other things He wanted commemorated. Not so with Jesus birth.

    I once read that if Satan really wanted to mislead us, he’d bring us to our own traditions. Isn’t he likely having a laugh right now, having tricked us into celebrating Jesus birth and resurrection on the two highest pagan feasts, plus filling our celebrations with almost exclusively pagan symbolism?

    Despite our good intentions (think pavement), aren’t we acting very much like the Israelites who kept the temple in Jerusalem, but just couldn’t bring themselves to tear down the pagan high places and those alters? Those were SUCH good times, right?

    Believe me, I struggle with this as I have so many fond memories and feelings attached to Christmas, but maybe I need to let it go. After all, if this really is Satan’s work, started so innocently, isn’t the current holiday right up his alley, complete with people fighting and killing each other in stores with greed?

    I wish it wasn’t so, but if I let go of the feelings and look at the facts, plain and simple, well…

    • Don Merritt says:

      Jeffrey, I decided long ago that I mustn’t look at these things with logic, history and good sense, since when I do, it feels like my head will explode. Just a thought… 🙂

      • Maybe that feeling in your head is God trying to tell you it’s a pain that needs to be addressed? You write so many great bible discussions, why retreat from this one? If your head feels about to explode when you think on this, that’s something that needs attention – like having a spiritual aneurism. Don’t wait for it to let go.

    • Mia Squires says:

      Very true, but put this aside and enjoy your family and friends. It is no different than say Thanksgiving…sometimes look up the truth behind it. Many holidays and celebrations have a pagan theme. I, as a minister of the G-d, see it but I try to focus on those I am with and not the history.
      Many Blessing, Father Jeremia

  5. Mel Wild says:

    Loved the cards and video. Santa even brought the Christmas tree with him back then. 🙂

    My wife is part of a Victorian caroling group, who actually still sing Christmas songs in public! (In the dark of night, of course.) The people they sing for love it.

  6. pipermac5 says:

    I know people (Christians) who spew vitriol at other Christians who celebrate Christmas and Easter, pointing to their “pagan-roots” and claiming that God didn’t command us to celebrate those events, so we shouldn’t celebrate them. Some will go as far as to question whether we are “real” Christians since we celebrate Christmas and Easter.

    Yes, God did command the children of Israel to commemorate certain events, but those commands were given to a specific group of people, the physical children of Israel. Many of those who cut us down for celebrating Christmas and Easter also insist on keep the Jewish festivals AND the Jewish Sabbath, as well as other parts of the Torah.

    God didn’t give us a command to celebrate the birth of Christ. He didn’t have to, because He gave us a supreme-example of celebrating His Son’s birth. As God called the shepherds to worship the new-born King, we should likewise celebrate and worship the King.

    Yes, it would be nice if Christmas wasn’t so “commercial”, but it still calls people to pause and remember what happened over two-thousand years ago, the birth, into human-skin, of the King of kings and Lord of lords.



    • Don Merritt says:

      You’re quite right Steve, no doubt about it. I’s add that Christmas also gives us an opportunity to reach many people who would listen now, but at no other time of year… and we mustn’t lose that opportunity.

  7. Anonymous says:

    My reading this morning on the first Christmas: the first Christmas “light up” ever was not created by electrical cables, glitter, and neon lights but by ” the glory of the Lord [ that] shone around” No tourists saw it, just a few simple shepherds out in their field. And it was followed by an unexpected rendition of “Glory to God in the Highest” by an angelic choir.

  8. Reblogged this on knitting with heart and commented:
    December is here and Christmas is near… hallelujah! 
So let’s crank the Christmas carols and get this festive month started, shall we?

    Today’s reblog is inspired by Don @ The Life Project—just one of the many, many WordPress blogs I love yet never read enough of :-/ Don’s thought provoking blog posts normally focus on insightful Bible study. In today’s post, he decks the victorian era halls with a glimpse back to when life seemed simpler, people connected without the internet and everyday heirloom gifts/decor were mostly handmade 🙂 Totally my kind of fun! Add to that a charming onscreen vision of Christmas past via G.A. Smith’s 1898 “Santa Clause” silent film and (although my yarny hands are holding knitting needles) you could even say I’m hooked! 😉

    Wishing a happy December to all, 
and to all a heartily wholesome night! ❤ Jackie

  9. Pingback: Visions of Christmas Past- Redux | cohortsite

  10. Pingback: “Visions of Christmas Past- Redux” 12/07/2016 Posted by Don Merritt for “The Life Project” | God's group

  11. Pingback: Visions of Christmas Past- Redux via TheLifeProject | knitting with heart

  12. I agree that Christmas is what you make of it. Most of the good things from the past are still there for the choosing. God bless you and your family throughout the season and the new year.

  13. Lovely blog. Witty & humorous too. I yearn for those simple days of Christmases past.

  14. Pingback: Visions of Christmas Past- Redux – Ray Simmons

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