“If there were less good will,” C. S. Lewis often said in December correspondence, “then we might have more peace on earth.” Lewis found no pleasure in the giving of generic winter cards, gift guilting, and the overall hurried pace of the Christmas season.

Lewis went from saying “I hope I am not a Scrooge” in a letter in 1952 to admitting his “real name is Scrooge” in another letter in 1956. In short, C. S. Lewis wasn’t a fan of the most wonderful time of the year. This attitude only intensified as he aged.

When I visited Lewis’s home parish, Holy Trinity Church in England, an elderly woman working the small gift shop inside remarked that she knew Lewis when she was a child. “He was a grumpy old man,” she told me.

Many consider C. S. Lewis a warm symbol of holiday cheer, particularly given his inclusion of Father Christmas in the Narnia stories. Yet the more I read by Lewis on the topic of Christmas, the more I’m reminded of my conversation with the clerk at Holy Trinity Church.

One of the most comical examples of Lewis’s disdain comes from his essay “Delinquents in the Snow,” which begins with his thoughts on Christmas carolers:

At my front they are, once every year, the voices of the local choir … those of boys or children who have not even tried to learn to sing, or to memorize the words of the piece they are murdering. The instruments they play with real conviction are the door-bell and the knocker; and money is what they are after.

Another essay lays bare Lewis’s lack of seasonal zeal by the fitting title, “What Christmas Means to Me.” Lewis condemned the season for giving more pain than pleasure, for forcing ...

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