How to Have a Very Lindbergh Christmas

Yesterday a few of us at The Anxious Bench suggested a few books and trinkets that might make good gifts for the history buffs in our readers’ lives. That list already included a biography about a not-infamous person, so I wasn’t tempted to hawk my own wares.

But today is another day, and this is a different blog, so…

If you know someone who [is fascinated by 20th century history] [is curious to learn more about someone who’s not just famous but infamous] [wants to think more deeply about topics as diverse as celebrity, technological progress, racism, and the teachings of Jesus], then now is a perfect time to give Charles Lindbergh: A Religious Biography of America’s Most Infamous Pilot as a gift!

As of this morning, the book is marked down below $23 at Amazon. But if you want to cut out that particular middle man and personalize the gift, just email me and I’ll be happy to send you a custom signed copy for the list price of $28 (the usual twenty-five bucks I’ve been charging at events, plus the cost of shipping).

Christmas 1927: Charles Lindbergh meets his future wife, Anne Morrow (third from right), at the U.S. embassy in Mexico City, where Dwight Morrow was serving as American ambassador – Yale University Library

I suppose I should warn you, however, that Charles Lindbergh wasn’t a big fan of Christmas presents. Here’s a rather grinchy part of his journal for December 25, 1940:

It seemed that we spent hours opening all the presents. There were too many of them, really; although we had hidden a few away, and will let others disappear during the next few days. People should not deluge children with presents on Christmas. It dulls appreciation, not only of the presents, but of the day itself.

Of course, this comes from a man who started that entry by complaining about “Jewish influence” in the media, so it’s possible that he’s equally wrong about other matters.

But since it is so easy to turn a thoughtful expression of love and gratitude into gratuitous consumerism, I’ll give Lindbergh the last word — the conclusion of that 1940 passage from his journal. As an antidote to commercialized Christmas, it’s not quite Linus reading the Gospel of Luke. But it is one of the first things Lindbergh wrote about Jesus:

It seems to me that Christmas has deviated as much from the birth of Christ as Christianity has from his teachings. The keynote at the birth of Christ was simplicity. The keynote of Christmas today is luxury. The birth and life of Christ were surrounded with things mystical. Christmas and Christianity today are surrounded with things material.

Sometime I would like to have a Christmas in our home that conforms to the true spirit and significance of that day 2,000 years ago—a Christmas unadorned by tinsel, uncluttered by ge-gaws and ribboned boxes, unstuffed by roast turkey and sweet potatoes; a christmas pure in its simplicity, akin to the sky and stars, of the mind rather than the body. It should be almost the reverse of modern Christmas. One should eat too little rather than too much, see no one rather than everyone, spend it in silence rather than in communication. Christmas should be a day that brings one closer to God and to the philosophy of Christ