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Saturday, December 17, 2016

Keeping Christmas

by Henry van Dyke

Henry van Dyke
It is a good thing to observe Christmas day. The mere making of times and seasons when men agree to stop work and make merry together, is a wise and wholesome custom. It helps one to feel the supremacy of the common life over the individual life. It reminds a man or woman to set their own little watch, now and then, by the great clock of humanity which runs on sun time. But there is a better thing than the observance of Christmas day, and that is, keeping Christmas.

Are you willing to forget what you have done for other people and to remember what others have done for you; to ignore what the world owes you, and to think about what you owe the world; to put your rights in the background, and your duties in the middle distance, and your chances to do a little more than your duty in the foreground; to see that your fellowmen are just as real as you are, and to try to look behind their faces to their hearts, hungry for joy; to own that probably the only good reason for your existence is not what you are going to get out of life, but what you are going to give to life; to close your book of complaints against the management of the universe, and look around you for a place where you can sow a few seeds of happiness – are you willing to do these things for even a day? If so, then you can Keep Christmas.

Are you willing to stoop down and consider the needs and the desires of little children; to remember the weakness and the loneliness of people who are growing old; to stop asking how much your friends love you, and ask yourself whether you love them enough; to bear in mind the things that other people have to bear on their hearts; to try to understand what those who live in the same house with you really want, without you waiting for them to tell you; to make a grave for your ugly thoughts, and a garden for your kindly feelings, with the gate open; are you willing to do these even for a day? Then you can Keep Christmas.

Are you willing to believe that Love is the strongest thing in the world — stronger than hate, stronger than evil, stronger than death? Then you can Keep Christmas.

And if you keep it for a day, why not always?

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