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Do you have these in blue?

By Steve Pierce | 23 December 2009

"These are your presents, and they are tools not toys. The time to use them is perhaps near at hand. Bear them well."

Father Christmas. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Ch. 10)


The full Hollywood treatment has ensured that The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe now has cult status, but this was not always so. Lewis himself was unsure and his friend, colleague and spiritual mentor JRR Tolkien, author of Lord of the Rings, disliked it intensely. He felt that Lewis was flirting with allegory and playing with mythology. He especially disliked the arrival of Father Christmas in Narnia.

But it seems to me that Lewis was hinting at something spiritually important. In Narnia, under the white witch it is 'always winter but never Christmas'. Aslan moves, winter thaws and it is no accident that we meet Father Christmas, the mythological figure associated with gift giving.

This side of the wardrobe door, Michael Greenberg died in 1995. Few have heard of him, but to the down and outs on Skid Row, the Bowery in New York, he was known as 'Gloves Greenburg'.  Between 1965 and 1993, Greenberg handed out gloves to the needy, seeking out the ones who wouldn't catch his eye, asking only for a handshake in return. Greenberg recalled one elderly man who, after finally being persuaded to take a pair of gloves, asked with quiet dignity, 'do you have these in blue?'.

It is no accident that Greenberg made his gifts between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Our gift giving at Christmas can sometimes be ritualistic, expensive, even worrysome. But at best, our giving and receiving reflects the nature of God himself  (2 Cor 8:1-3, 8-9).

  • Greenberg's father taught him, 'don't deprive yourself of the joy of giving'. Are we teaching and modelling generosity to the children in our lives and in our churches?
  • When gloves were traded for a drink, Greenberg simply commented:  'when you give a gift, you let it go'. When we give do we really let go? Do we give with no strings attached?
  • Greenburg asked only for a handshake in return. When we give, are we giving our money or something of ourself as well?

And finally, each visit to Goodison Park this Christmas and New Year is a reminder that all good things come in blue! Happy Christmas!

Time magazine (1989) on Michael Greenberg

Christmas in a nutshell [video]

Christmas stories

British Glove Association

Silent Monks sing Hallejuah [video]



Steve Pierce
Posted by Steve Pierce

Steve Pierce was born, raised, educated, ordained and employed in Liverpool and is the Director of Learning and Stewardship for the diocese of Liverpool. He supports, of course, Everton.


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