DECEMBER 25, 1954
HYDE PARK—Here we are again at Christmas Day, and I have been hearing a great deal in church about the need for making this day more of a religious day and less of a purely secular holiday.
As a matter of fact, I have always enjoyed the combination which we in the United States have worked out. Nearly always the older members of my family and such younger ones as can stay awake go to church on Christmas Eve at 11:30 p.m. There is something very lovely to me about opening Christmas Day at this particular time. Then well after midnight when the services are over and the carols are still ringing in our ears, we drive home to rest.
Not many hours later it is a joyful awaking on Christmas morning to the sound of many young voices anxious to open their stockings, which were hung the night before at the fireplace in the living room.
We have celebrated the birth of the Christ Child. And I think most of us have thought that all the pleasures that come after are secondary to the central fact that Christ was born into this world as a baby, born in a manger to teach us that He belongs to everyone. Later He showed His power in many ways and the mighty bowed down to Him. But at His birth He accepted kinship with the poor and the needy and even the animals which were around this Baby had a share in the miraculous story.
Many people complain that the secular part of Christmas has become a burden—the buying of presents, the giving of gifts. It takes so much trouble. For my part, I love it. I love trying to think of something that someone will enjoy. And though I will have to confess that for a great many people (because I literally do not have enough time) my gifts are rather unimaginative, nevertheless, each and every one carries the real joy of giving with it. I get an enormous amount of pleasure just in remembering as many people as possible and in being able to give special thought to those who are close to me in my daily life.
On a broader scale, I think this ties the world together, for all over the world even people whose religions do not coincide have come to send Christmas messages of goodwill and gifts to friends in many parts of the world.
So, the secular part of Christmas carries the message of goodwill and peace on earth which was given at the time the Christ Child was born. We can only hope that this message will be in the hearts of every individual everywhere in the world, and no matter how the season is celebrated this message should be fervently repeated from one end of the world to the other.