DECEMBER 29, 1958
NEW YORK—In all the news that came over the radio just before Christmas, the one event of worldwide significance, as far as I could discover, was that the U. S. had sent up another missile-satellite. And at Christmas I somehow wished we had not been successful, because I do not think this feat added to the spirit of "goodwill among men."
I tried to imagine, by contrast, what would be an ideal arrangement, if such could be arrived at for the Christmas period. I think if we could reach an understanding on disarmament, with safeguards that made us all feel comparatively secure, and if no nation could have more than its own police force, plus the quota it was required by the U. N. to supply in case of need to an international army for enforcement of an international decision, than I would feel we had made one of the greatest strides forward for the peace of the world. I feel it would be the best Christmas present anyone could receive, and my prayer for the coming year is going to be that this will be the gift our negotiators—wherever and whoever they are—will try to give humanity in the course of the next year. I realize that this may have to come in slow stages, but I would be most grateful to see the first step taken.
On Tuesday night I went to a family Christmas party which has been an annual tradition for many years. And the man at the head of the table gave a toast which I wish we could repeat at everyone of our tables between now and the New Year, so that it would become not only a toast but a fervent wish for the New Year. The gist of it was: Whenever we are permitted as a family to gather round a festive board, we are grateful, first, for being together in love and understanding; also we are grateful that we live in a country where we can have the kind of table that is spread before us, and we pledge ourselves to bear in mind our gratitude and our desire, in everything we do, to further the opportunity for all the other peoples of the world to join us in similar plenty and material security, as well as in our spiritual joys and aspirations.
That we can have such abundance and so much more freedom and justice than is available to many people in the world is something to call from us a greatness and a nobility of purpose in which our whole people must share.
My own Christmas at Hyde Park was certainly a gathering of the clans. Perhaps the nicest part, for me, was hearing the voices of some of my children and grandchildren as I finally did get them on the telephone. Being able to tell them how much I prize their gifts, and at the same time hearing something of their own pleasure, was a joy. Where there were small children, pandemonium usually reigned at the other end of the telephone.
Christmas is most genuinely enjoyed by the older members of the family when they watch the youngsters and find them healthy, happy, and growing satisfactorily toward the kind of maturity we all wish for our next generation.