DECEMBER 25, 1958
HYDE PARK—Christmas is here again, and I hope that at this season we will stress the religious side of the celebration. Of foremost importance for the world to remember is that the story of the Christ child is the one that really gives meaning to this day for every Christian everywhere.
I always go to midnight service in our church in Hyde Park because I like to begin the celebration hearing the familiar religious carols and being reminded of the heart of this season, which is "peace on earth, goodwill to men."
During the day we return, of course, to the enjoyment of all the other traditions which we have absorbed in this country—Santa Claus and his reindeers and the Christmas decorations which every year become more evident in every village and in every city.
I love the Christmas lights and sometime during the Christmas season I always try to drive after dark one night down Park Avenue in New York City where the trees make a long stream of light and many windows are decorated. Then I proceed over to Fifth Avenue and down to Washington Square and up the whole length of Fifth Avenue where so many shops have outstanding decorations.
I love to look at the big tree in Rockefeller Plaza which is always a joy. This little excursion is one of my annual Christmas pleasures.
This season is the time when children of every religious faith can enjoy the secular part of Christmas, and the exchanging of gifts. I like to believe that many children are still allowed as long as they are small to think that Santa Claus does come down the chimney or through a window, and if only they could stay awake they would see him filling their stockings!
They outgrow the story, of course, in time, and yet some people think it is wrong to let them believe in it when they are very young. But I cannot help remembering that I tried to make believe I thought it was true long after I knew it was not, just because it was fun. And why should we deny children this fun?
This is a time to try to forget all bitterness and hatred on a personal level, to try to approach all men with the love and compassion that mark the life of the baby born in a manger so many centuries ago. If we could keep this spirit and have it permeate the whole world, many of our problems would melt away.
Actually, what we are striving for in diplomatic relations and in contacts with people at home and abroad is the spirit of the angel's message: "Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men." This often is difficult to achieve, for it must be done by individuals, each in their own lives and in their own contacts. We are given this day each year to remind us of what we strive for and may we say in the words of Tiny Tim in Dickens' Christmas Carol:
"God bless us, everyone."