NOVEMBER 25, 1940
HYDE PARK, Sunday—I must tell you of a letter which has come to me. It seems that a committee has been formed in Washington, D. C., to suggest to people that, instead of giving Christmas presents this year, they should send Christmas cards and give their money to war relief organizations. It is a fine idea and I am sure that many people will join happily in such a movement.
However, there is another side to this Christmas buying which should be considered. Christmas shopping provides jobs for many people and turns the wheels in many a factory. Those of us who are in the habit of spending a definite sum at Christmas time, might perhaps exert a little extra self-sacrifice and find some money for the relief organizations.
I do not think that presents should be withheld from children, or from people who need and can enjoy the things which are given. I am quite conscious of the fact that many of us receive Christmas gifts which are neither desirable nor useful, and which are not given nor received in the spirit which really should go with any Christmas gift. Through personal thought and effort, we should show we really care about the person to whom we give our gift.
If we can think of nothing which they need or want, I think a Christmas card is entirely justified. In such a case, any money one can spend or any effort one can make, can be joyously put into giving something to a relief organization, either here or abroad, for the benefit of those who really need some material sign of the real Christmas spirit.
While we are thinking of giving things away, I have a communication from a bookshop in New York City, which has a rather unique plan for adding to the libraries of CCC Camps and Army and Navy training groups. They suggest that every bookshop should "become a depot for voluntary contributions of all books by their patrons."
These books are to be collected weekly by a government truck, deposited in a warehouse where experienced booksellers and librarians could volunteer to sort them, after which they would be sent to camps, where persons appointed in charge of recreation would sent a monthly report concerning the type of fiction and non-fiction found most in demand. The next selection would be guided by these reports and the books would rotate from camp to camp, finally to be sold at public auction and the money obtained used for the purchase of more books.
This seems to me an ambitious plan which requires much volunteer work, but I wish them well, for good reading material is certainly needed in every camp.