Christmas on 42nd Street

Robert F. Griffin, CSC, '49 | December 28, 2018

Editor's Note: This piece is part of "12 Days of Classics," a holiday series drawn from the magazine's archives and published at magazine.nd.edu from Saturday, December 22, 2018, to Wednesday, January 2, 2019. Merry Christmas!

The world at Eighth Avenue and 42nd Street is quite remote from the villages dreamed of in the ballads of the white Christmas. Often the carols of redemption are heard there playing on someone’s transistor or picked up by a car radio, or as tunes offered to the neighborhood in the seasonal drumbeats and trumpets of the Salvation Army. But that intersection is a grim and busy place; and after the working day is over, the traffic to and from the skin flicks, the massage parlors and the porno shops is very heavy.

Then the street scenes seem etched in gray, edged in black and framed for death.

On one corner, there is a Childs’ restaurant; almost next to it, there is a sign advertising a blood bank where a donor is offered money for his sale of blood. It is an open invitation to exchange blood for the price of booze, though it seems there could be no health, no healing in the blood offered for sale by the winos and addicts of 42nd Street.

Sometimes, on the sidewalk outside Childs’, a street preacher will proclaim redemption to sinners whom the Lamb’s blood has washed; but in these sad neighborhoods, even God’s Son seems powerless to offer the transfusions of grace from which our immortal hopes are sprung, and the crimson sufferings on the Cross seem no more efficacious for life than do the commercial transactions taking place at the blood shop next to Childs’.

Truly, the world at Eighth Avenue and 42nd Street is quite remote from the villages dreamed of in the ballads of the white Christmas. In its intense commitment to the World Made Flesh, 42nd Street is quite impervious to the holiday mood celebrating the birthday of the Word Made Flesh in Bethlehem.

Read more here.

 by Daily Domer Staff

Posted In: ND Magazine