Keeping Christmas

-- Henry van Dyke --

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 admit that 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?

Are you willing to stoop down and consider the needs
and desire of little children?

To remember the weakness and loneliness
of people who are growing old?

To stop asking how much your friends like you?
and ask yourself whether you love them enough?

To try to understand what those who live
in the same house with you really want,
without 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 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 death --
and that the blessed Life which began in
Bethlehem nineteen hundred years ago is the image
and brightness of eternal love?

Then you can keep Christmas.

But you can never keep it alone.

Romans 14:6 He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord.

The nineteenth century author, Presbyterian minister and outdoorsman Henry Van Dyke's (1852-1933 )wrote on the spirit of Christmas.

His early works, The Story of the Other Wise Man (1896) and The First Christmas Tree (1897), were first read aloud to his congregation in New York as sermons. stories and anecdotal tales were gathered at regular intervals into volumes. Among these collections is Keeping Christmas.

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