The temptation, in a Christmas letter, is to be cutesy and banal — to coax you with the exhortations to buy and to love, mingled like steamy breath on a wintry day, hot air rising. This is the time of year we’re enjoined to love by those afraid of love. Sure they’re afraid. Love’s breath doesn’t fog the windows, a Hallmark mist. It breaks them, rips through the skyscraper mind, the doll-house mind, a hurricane scattering the balance sheets, twisting the plastic Santas and saviors; it’s a savage wind whose calm eye is the unspeakably gentle peace of God. But we’re sold the rose without the thorn, the nail without the bloody tearing, and Christ’s sacrifice isn’t even hinted at — it’s not leaving the body but coming into one, taking on a human life, the tight fit, pinched awareness: holding the breath for 33 years until, on the final exhale, the agony of the in-breath and the ecstasy of the out are joined. The dark clouds on the heart’s horizon break up — from this side of the dawning it looks like delirium, but the greeting card isn’t the greeting, love isn’t the word.

And this Christmas letter, encouraging you to give THE SUN to someone you love — what’s that? A subtle tug at your heart strings, your purse strings? If you take the magazine seriously, you understand it’s not just a gift of words and pictures, and you know who, among those important to you, would appreciate it. You don’t need me to pitch you curves, but to throw it straight. Merry Christmas.

— Sy