: SIGNIFICANCE AND SPIRIT
Romans, xiv, 6: _He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord,_
HENRY VAN DYKE
[From The Spirit of Christmas.]
It is a good thing to observe Christmas day. The mere marking 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
man to set his own
little watch, now and then, by the great clock of humanity which runs on
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 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, 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 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 even for a day? 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 try to understand what
those who live in the same house with you really want, without waiting
for them to tell you; to trim your lamp so that it will give more light
and less smoke, and to carry it in front so that your shadow will fall
behind 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 things
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--and
that the blessed life which began in Bethlehem nineteen hundred years
ago is the image and brightness of the Eternal Love? Then you can keep
And if you keep it for a day, why not always?
But you can never keep it alone.