Keeping Christmas

Santa on Roadturn

“There is a better thing,” said Henry Van Dyke, “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 other people have done for you?

To ignore what the world owes you, and to think what you owe the world?

To put your rights in the background, your duties in the middle distance and your chances to do a little more than your duty in the foreground?

To see that others are just as real as you are, and try to look behind their faces to their hearts, hungry for joy?

To acknowledge 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?

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 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 in their hearts?

To make a grave for your ugly thoughts and a garden for your kindly feelings, with the gate open?

Then you can keep Christmas.

Are you willing to believe that love is the strongest thing in the world — stronger than hate, stronger than death — and that the blessed life which began in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago is the image and brightness of the Eternal Love?

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

But you can never keep it alone.

By Henry Van Dyke

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