“A Good Conscience is a Continual Christmas,” I once wrote. There is, of course, more to the statement than these oft-quoted seven words. The full passage reads as follows:
“Let no pleasure tempt thee, no profit allure thee, no ambition corrupt thee, no example sway thee, no persuasion move thee, to do any thing which thou knowest to be evil; so shalt thou always live jollily; for a good conscience is a continual Christmas.” (Please excuse the antiquated language; this is how we spoke in the 1700s).
So, dear reader, as you can see, my original intent was to offer some helpful words of advice that could also serve as a sort of blessing….with the reward being a “continual Christmas.”
Looking back on these words three centuries years later, however, there is a bit of historical background you may also wish to know. That is, compared to all the fuss made over Christmas and other holidays here in this future world, the Christmas we knew back in the days of the original American colonies was not very big or fancy or even much of a celebration, in fact!
Happy Holiday? Pay the fine!
Some have said that due to the influence of rather staid, intolerant religious groups, Christmas was something more akin to a “non-holiday.” In Puritan-led Massachusetts, for example, a law was passed that punished anyone who celebrated the holiday with a five shilling fine! In Pennsylvania, the Quakers treated Christmas Day as any other day of the year. Not until a century later, I’m told, did Christmas become a much larger, more celebratory occasion.
So, my reference to a “continual Christmas” might seem like an oddity, given this historical background. In one sense, the criticism is justified. Given the perspective I was trying to communicate, however, it is not. What Christmas (and the New Year, for that matter) symbolizes is a “new beginning” – the birth of new possibilities for positive, well-meaning progress in all sorts of pursuits. And so, to enter this time of change with a relatively clear conscience (from having resisted temptations to do things known to be evil) would be like extending this period infinitely forward, both receiving and sharing the benefits of a blessed, bounteous, and beautiful life every day from now to the end of time. As I’ve always said, to do good for humankind is the best thing we can do in this world.
Your humble servant,