DECEMBER 28, 1959
HYDE PARK—Christmas is over and I hope that many of us went either to midnight service or to the service on Christmas Day to remember the spiritual origin of our holiday. The custom of the giving of presents and the Christmas tree, of course, has come to us from many different lands, and many of us have observances that take us back to the lands of our forefathers.
I used to like best the early morning ritual of Christmas stockings in my husband's room with the smallest children sitting on his bed; but now I think it is the Christmas dinner, with the bringing together of those who are near enough and hearing from those who are far away. When possible we telephone before we sit down to dinner, which makes this midday meal the most meaningful time of getting together.
I always love the midnight service on Christmas Eve, with its music and lights followed by the drive home through the quiet countryside after we have celebrated an event which brought about the greatest influence for good among vast numbers of people in the world. Our warmest and best instincts spring from the teaching of the Man who was born in that manger on Christmas Day so long ago, and the spirit that He brought to the world is the spirit we count on today to bring us peace on earth, goodwill among men.
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The President told us that faith in the U. S. was the keynote of his trip, and he noticed that there was hunger for peace in the world. I particularly liked his saying that the greatest of all resources was the "people of good heart and stout will and this is especially true of the young." It is always the people who are the greatest resource that a country possesses. A nation may lack many material resources, but people, particularly the young, can overcome the lack if they have the heart and the will.
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There is one point in Governor Rockerfeller's program for combatting youth crime which worries me a little. It sounds reasonable to give to all children's court judges the power to sentence 15 year-olds to adult penal institutions rather than to youth detention centers; yet the only thing that would make it really safe is an assurance that all children's court judges would be chosen for their wisdom, insight and understanding of young people. We know that this is often not the case: even children's court judges are chosen for political reasons. Sometimes people who have proven their ability to deal with children wisely are not reappointed because of pressure from a variety of sources. It therefore seems to me that this one point, in an otherwise very commendable effort to do something really meaningful about the crime situation, may have a bad effect.
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I read with sorrow the other morning of the death of Lord Halifax. I not only remember him well as a wise ambassador and a very popular one in Washington, but it was he who conferred on me my honorary degree at Oxford University. At 78, any one of us has lived a long and full life and has contributed probably as much as he will be allowed to contribute in this world of ours which needs particularly the vigor and determination of youth.