by Johnathan Arnold

A light-hearted parody of The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis.

Dear Wormwood,

Be encouraged, nephew. It is the most wonderful time of the year!

It is the one time of the year that the humans are so wonderfully mean and selfish in the name of the Enemy. Their very own songs say “the Lord has come,” but no hearts prepare him room. Instead, they bustle about the stores and nearly kill each other with their brimming carts. This is Satan’s big scene. Of course, the whole thing was his glorious plan from the beginning.

He could not allow the humans to have a whole day commemorating the birth of the seed, so Our Father Below devised a wonderful plot.

First, he planted an idea in their minds: give gifts in the name of the Enemy. It was not long before they were giving gifts in their own names. Now, the name on the “From” line is their badge of honor to say, “Look what a great thing I gave.” Oh, how they bicker over what they did and did not receive! Aren’t their tantrums glorious, Wormwood? Christmas is the only birthday celebration where everyone receives a gift except the birthday child.

As long as Barney, Ben, Janice, and Jen are told that Christmas is about their hop-along boots and pistol that shoots, dolls that will talk and go for a walk, the Enemy will gain no glory. Of course, the adult humans are almost as easy to distract with some decorations bought at Tiffany’s or a fifty-four convertible, light blue. Oh! I forgot to mention one little thing: a ring. For the men? Slip a Rolex under the tree. Maybe just “one little thing, cha-ching.” The Master Tempter is wise, dear Wormwood. How the humans love things!

To complete his plan, the Master had one more idea: a Christmas idol. It wasn’t too hard, really. It was much like his other idols: like the Enemy, but certainly not the Enemy.

To attract the human’s attention, he needed an idol that replaced god as omnipresent: one to see them when they are sleeping and see them when they are awake. He needed an idol that replaced god as judge: one to decide who is good and who is bad, who is naughty and who is nice. Most of all, he needed an idol to replace god as the giver, for the giver gave his only begotten son: one to give them glittery things instead — things that they like much better.

And so, he wrapped him up in a big red suit with a soft warm lap and a million-dollar smile. With his angel-like elves and magical dwelling-place above, who needs the god that came to his people when Santa Claus is coming to town? The humans are sure that “Santa knows we’re all God’s children and that makes everything right.” Of course, most of them are the children of Our Father Below.

Sit at the feet of the Master Tempter, Wormwood, and learn this lesson well: come as an angel of light. The master is perfectly content with chestnuts roasting over an open fire, as long as there is no mention of the baby. In fact, the more decorations of red on the green Christmas tree, the more likely people are to forget the lousy manger in Bethlehem.

It is our job to make sure that they remain distracted during the season and feel pleasantly satisfied afterwards. But don’t fear. It is never too difficult with the skeptics or nominal Christians.

Just remind them that their light display is nicer than their neighbor’s and that their Christmas party pictures received a lot of likes on Facebook and Instagram. Remind them how much more they spent on their much more thoughtful present that was much more neatly wrapped for the annual gift exchange. Or, if they are the pleasant kind, remind them to have themselves a merry little Christmas and let their heart be light; when they forget their troubles, miles away, they are much less likely to remember the child.

Of course, the more serious believers are a wretched nuisance. They take such joy in the Bethlehem child. They go about merrily, decking the halls while singing carols about Immanuel. They read the story in the Enemy’s Book and pray before opening presents. They give to the needy and do all kinds of things the Enemy calls “love.” Do not presume they will be easily distracted.

Whatever it takes, Wormwood. We wouldn’t want to ruin Christmas for the Master.

Your affectionate Uncle,

Songs quoted or alluded to include: It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, Silver Bells, It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas, Joy to the World, Here Comes Santa Claus, Santa Baby, Santa Buddy, Blue Christmas.

About the Author

Johnathan Arnold is Associate Pastor at Newport God’s Missionary Church and serves as Director of Media Ministry. You can connect with him on Twitter @jsarnold7 or email