My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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For Christmas Day—Here we are again arrived at another Christmas Day, and I have just been reading Miss Lillian Wald's Christmas message on giving. It is a very beautiful editorial, and the story of her neighbor is enlightening. He told her on the spur of the moment that the "real me" wanted to give one hundred dollars to a case, but if he went home and talked it over the council of wisdom would make him give fifty because he realized that others with more of this world's goods, would probably give one hundred dollars!

The spirit of giving, however, I feel has been stressed ever since Dickens wrote his "Christmas Carol." Sometimes I think today we have come to think of giving very largely from the point of view of giving of our worldly possessions. Even if we can give little, it must be something tangible. Perhaps we have stressed this particular angle sufficiently. There is one other angle of giving that we might stress a little more, the desire and the ability to give of oneself. The most difficult thing of all however, is to receive graciously and many people who cannot give, find it difficult to accept because they still feel that there is an element of "give and take" in the interchange of Christmas gifts. I have known people, who when they received a gift from a person to whom they had sent nothing, were much disturbed because they felt that they had been neglectful and that the other person would expect something from them in return.

In some cases it is probably quite true that gifts are sent with this expectation and when that is the case, the recipient should trouble very little about the feelings of the giver. But sometimes I think we who receive may fail to realize that there is a spontaneous gesture of affection and admiration which may have nothing whatsoever to do with any desire for return. In that case, it is an art to receive graciously and to give thanks and appreciation with a warm heart and no feeling of hesitation because we have given nothing. It might be well to pledge ourselves to think a little more about that person and give them a little of ourselves in the coming year, however.

Christmas is a time for the renewal of family ties, and the drawing in of as many friends as possible by thought as well as personal contact.

One woman wrote me that the letters she received from people she only heard from at this season of the year, gave her a warm feeling about her heart. That should encourage us all to reach out and renew all of the friendships which mean something to us, even though we can not actually clasp hands on Christmas Day. In closing I can but repeat the best Christmas wish which ever was uttered—May we have now and always, "Peace on Earth and Good Will to Men."

E.R.
TMsd 24 December 1937, AERP, FDRL