Book Finds: Let's Keep Christmas by Peter Marshall

I thought it might be fun to start a series of blog posts on books I find at the library or used book shops, etc.  Below, an example.

As I have noted before, one of my adaptive/coping mechanisms relating to my book addiction is buying books at library sales and used book stores for a dollar or two. I get to look for books and the pleasure of buying books without going broke quite as fast.

I was engaging in this hobby, and simultaneously avoiding a freelance research project, when I stumbled upon a classic (1953) Christmas book: Let’s Keep Christmas by Peter Marshall.

From the inside flap:

One of Peter Marshall’s most inspiring and memorable sermons — a moving expression of gratitude that the Christ child came into the world, and a plea that we keep Christmas “in all the loveliness of its ancient traditions.” The perfect gift — a book the whole family will enjoy and treasure.

It really is a wonderful little book. A simple yet powerful sermon with charming illustrations and a message that is still very much relevant today.  Being a firm traditionalist, this book echoes my views about Christmas; that we are responsible for keeping Christmas focused on what really matters and for making it a blessed time for family and friends.

I posted a quote on Tumblr that gets at this message:

Let’s not give way to cynicism and mutter that “Christmas has been commercialized.”

It never will be—unless you let it be.

Your Christmas is not commercialized unless you have commercialized it.

Let’s not succumb to the sophistication that complains:

“Christmas belongs only to the children”

That shows that you have never understood Christmas at all, for the older you get, the more it means, if you know what it means.

Christmas, though forever young, grows old along with us.

Have you been saying, “I just can’t seem to feel the Christmas spirit this year”?

That’s too bad.

As a confession of lack of faith, it is rather significant.

You are saying that you feel no joy that Jesus came into the wold …

You are confessing that His presence in the world is not reality to you …

Maybe you need all the more to read the Christmas story over again, need to sit down with the Gospel of Luke and think about it.

I try to fight the good fight on this every year.  When singing hymns in church I try to focus on the lyrics of these classical Christmas works, and encourage other to do the same, and recognize their profound theology.  I try to see the season through the prism of faith, family and tradition not potentially stressful things like shopping, travel and family gatherings. I think too many either give into the commercialization (it is easy to do) or give up trying to make it something spiritual and special (while grumbling about the commercialization, traffic, etc.).

From over half a century ago, Peter Marshall calls us to something different:

We want to hold on to the old customs and traditions because they strengthen our family ties, bind us to our friends, make us one with all mankind for whom the Child was born, and bring us back again to the God Who gave His only begotten Son, that ‘whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’”

So we will not “spend” Christmas nor “observe” Christmas.  We will keep Christmas as it is in all the loveliness of its ancient traditions. May we keep it in our hearts that we may be kept in its hope.

So I am glad I stumbled on this little gem.  It is something I hope to return to every year.

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.