I wanted to emerge from the piles of holly and cedar and mountains of cookies and candy just to wish you all the very merriest of Christmases. There is so much I would say had I the time to craft it as lovingly as I’d like, but as the moments and the mental powers are allocated to the preparations for the great Day, I find any words I would try and string together woefully inadequate to express the goodwill I feel in my heart for all of you, kind readers. If you will permit me, then, I will send forth my Christmas greetings to you in the words of another, words that have unfailingly strengthened my heart for many years, as they doubtless have countless others in the centuries since they were first penned. While they may not be my own, the sentiments they express most certainly are:

I salute you. I am your friend, and my love for you goes deep.  There is nothing I can give you which you have not. But there is much, very much, that, while I cannot give it, you can take. No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today. Take heaven! No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant.

Take peace! The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy. There is radiance and glory in darkness, could we but see.  And to see, we have only to look. I beseech you to look!

Life is so generous a giver. But we, judging its gifts by their covering, cast them away as ugly or heavy or hard. Remove the covering, and you will find beneath it a living splendor, woven of love by wisdom, with power. Welcome it, grasp it, and you touch the angel’s hand that brings it to you.

Everything we call a trial, a sorrow or a duty, believe me, that angel’s hand is there. The gift is there and the wonder of an overshadowing Presence. Your joys, too, be not content with them as joys. They, too, conceal diviner gifts.

Life is so full of meaning and purpose, so full of beauty beneath its covering, that you will find earth but cloaks your heaven. Courage then to claim it; that is all! But courage you have, and the knowledge that we are pilgrims together, wending through unknown country home.

Fra Giovanni, Christmas Eve 1513

Merry Christmas to you all, and God bless you abundantly in the New Year!

And here are two songs, far from perfect, which my friends and I recorded last year. Consider them my homespun Christmas gift. 😉 (You may want to make sure the volume is not too high for the first one as the high notes are rather intense otherwise ;)):

All My Heart This Night Rejoices

Words: Paul Gerhardt, 1653 Music: Johann Ebeling, 1666

Past Three O’Clock

George Ratcliffe Woodward (1848–1934)

Note: Lanier’s Books will be closed for Christmas holidays from December 21st, 2010 through January 6th, 2011. Any orders received during this time will be processed after the holidays. Thank you! 🙂