If I had to paint a picture
of a man I think I'd wait
Till he'd fought his selfish battles
and had put aside his hate.
I'd not catch him at his labors
when his thoughts are all of pelf,
On the long days and the dreary
when he's striving for himself.
I'd not take him when he's sneering,
when he's scornful or depressed,
But I'd look for him at Christmas
when he's shining at his best.
Man is ever in a struggle
and he's oft misunderstood;
There are days the worst that's in him
is the master of the good,
But at Christmas kindness rules him
and he puts himself aside
And his petty hates are vanquished
and his heart is opened wide.
Oh, I don't know how to say it,
but somehow it seems to me
That at Christmas man is almost
what God sent him here to be.
—Edgar A. Guest, "At Christmas."
[The word "Advent" comes from the Latin adventus, which means "coming." In the Christian church Advent is that period of expectant waiting leading up to the Nativity of Jesus. Some prefer to think of it as a "Countdown to Christmas." If you've ever had an Advent calendar, you know that each day prior to Christmas has it own window, usually hidden behind a little flap or door, behind which is a scene or verse from the Scriptures. I thought it would be fun to take that idea and post a daily photo with a bit of text below—a stanza or two from a Christmaspoem or a few lines of prose from a favorite Christmas story. The photos aren't intended to be tied with the text. Some are just ones I meant to run with a post this past year, but for whatever reason, didn't. To set these posts apart from my regular—or irregular!—ones, I've given them a different typeface and look.]