Saturday, 24 December 2011

Twelve Days of Christmas 12: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe

A glowing lamppost in the middle of a snowy wood. A faun, wrapped in a scarf, carrying parcels and an umbrella. This is one of the images that has lodged in my mind for as long as I can remember, and which is inextricably linked with Christmas. Which is odd, because there hasn't been a Christmas in Narnia in living memory. The country has been placed under a spell which means that it is always winter, but never Christmas.

When I was little, I always wanted so much to find Narnia in my wardrobe. It is so beautifully described, and though it is supposed to be a curse, I think it is at its most beautiful when shrouded in snow and ice. Perhaps I would grow tired of it if I lived in perpetual winter - after all, in real life, I am already wishing that spring would come again. But that snowy wood with its lamppost is the first sight you get of Narnia, and that is the most special, the most iconic image of this wonderful land in the wardrobe. And every time I read this book, which I do most winters, I am transported to the innocence of childhood, when, although even then I knew the story inside out, it never lost its magic and its wonder.

And with the arrival of Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter, and the return of the Great Lion Aslan, the Witch's power begins to wane. Father Christmas is seen once more. I love the fact that, although here Christ is known as Aslan and is in the form of a Lion, Christmas is still Christmas. (It was probably brought over by the first King and Queen of Narnia, Frank the Cabby and his wife Nellie in The Magician's Nephew.) Father Christmas is instantly recogniseable, as old as time, wise as well as jolly. I was pleased to see that in the recent film adaptation, Father Christmas was an old-fashioned, graver version of today's Santa, in a darker red coat, as befits an old-fashioned British story - and yet still very much recogniseable.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is, to my mind, the classic child's fantasy story, a fairy tale not only for children, but for those who have outgrown being too old for fairy tales. It never loses its magic.

And I still check the wardrobe in every room I stay in.

Merry Christmas to you all.

2 comments:

  1. I love your twelve books! Other books with lovely Christmas chapters include The Good Master and Roller Skates. I also have certain magical (IMHO) Christmas books I read each year, including A Christmas Carol. These include The House Without a Christmas Tree, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, The Tuckers: The Cottage Holiday, Sleigh Bells for Windy Foot, and The Homecoming.

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  2. I love this post. I read this book every winter too and it always fills me with a warm cosy christmassy feel. I'd love to go Narnia as well.

    I'll meet you by the lamppost! :)

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