In the Dec. 19, 1933 edition of The Collegian, a concerned student wrote, “In this enchanting world of ours — enchanting because it is such a dear higgedly-piggedly mass of contradictions — nothing is so silly as to deride Christmas.”
If I’m being honest, I don’t know what that quote means. I don’t think I understand more than three words of that sentence.
The student clarified, “To deride Christmas is to commit an unforgivable social sin — the sin of humorless, unimaginative solemnity.”
After this definition, the author finally pointed out his real enemy: people who refuse to find Christ is Christmas.
He wrote, “They grieve our very souls, these literal-minded, contentious little persons who gravely draw us aside to say: ‘Christmas is not the birthday of Jesus. We have no legal proof that he even existed. Christmas is a trademan’s holiday, devised to unload upon us all the worthless merchandise that they couldn’t get rid of by legitimate means.’”
How does this concerned student ameliorate the transgressions of the “contentious, little persons?” Of course only by writing a full article correcting their mistakes.
He writes, “There are times when a deliberate absurdity — an intellectual monkeyshine, as it were — becomes the only fitting conduct to civilized and gentle people. These monkeyshines are certainly in place at Christmas — not to speak of the Fourth of July, Labor Day, New Year’s and Thanksgiving.”
When’s the last time you’ve heard someone use the word ‘monkeyshine?’ It’s been a minute for me I must admit.
The author justifies the ‘monkeyshine’ with this logic: “Christmas merchandising has a certain grace and joy that everyday barter usually lacks.”
As far as I know, ‘everyday barter’ lacks a lot more than grace and joy.
The author continues, “Christmas trading is for profit, we grant you. It is hard, however, to imagine anything we do that is not for profit. If you are in the habit of reducing things to their lowest common denominator, it is easy enough to see that the loftiest, most disinterested and charitable action is really for profit — profit to your immortal soul.”
It is at this point that for the sake of saving the Christmas spirit, I stopped reading the article.
In order to lighten my mood, I turned to the Dec. 16, 1920 issue of The Collegian, where the paper published an article entitled “Christmas in Old Russia”.
Yes, this was an entire article describing Christmas celebrations in Russia prior to World War I.
Without a single source cited or a point made about its connection to Hillsdale, the author of this article began, “Before the war, Russian customs at Yule-tide were many and varied.”
The author described these traditions: “One was the singing of their ancient Kolyada songs, composed centuries ago by writers whose names have not come down with their songs.”
He continued, “On Christmas Eve the people fasted until the first service in church. Then they always hastened home and got to bed early in order that they might have the pleasant Christmas Eve dream, which was sure to come true.”
It’s not that this information is not interesting; I am just confused why it was published in The Collegian. On the list of issues relevant to Hillsdale students, this has to be close to the bottom.
The downward spiral of a Collegian Christmas continued with an article printed on Dec. 25, 1913.
And before I continue with the content, I am going to pause to say that I am thoroughly impressed with the dedication of early 1900s Collegian journalists. Not only did they work through the holiday break, they even published on Christmas Day.
However, the article entitled ‘The Twentieth Century Christmas’ was not quite as joyous.
The article begins, “Since the first Christmas Day, when the spirit of Christmas was born, through the long line of ages there has come down to society of today, that soul of Christmas which is the essence of the joy that floods the world at the holiday season.”
What an eloquent way of saying “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”
The author took a dark turn as he continued, “But how dim and flickering may this spirit grow when clouded by a veil of superficialities.”
I asked for snow this Christmas, not a dark rain cloud.
The article reads, “The soul of beauty, and joy and love which for centuries has lent a glow to the season is smothered into shadow by the hurry and bustle of formal procedure.”
The author concludes with this warning: “Let us not tarnish the beauty of Christmas by a coating of the rush and bustle of the live-long year.”
I hate to point out the obvious, but this author needs to learn to lead by example: if you want to slow down during Christmas, why are you publishing the student newspaper on Dec. 25th?
Despite this, I must recommend to follow the author’s warning and advise that all Hillsdale students focus on the Christmas spirit instead of studying for finals in the upcoming week.