It's good to observe Christmas day.
The special time when we agree to stop work to spread good cheer. It helps us feel a sense of community and shared purpose. It reminds us to set our watches to the greater clock of humanity.
But there is a better thing than observing Christmas day, and that is, keeping Christmas.
Are you willing to forget what you have done for other people and remember what other people have done for you? To ignore what the world owes you and think what you owe the world? To put your rights in the background, your responsibilities in the middle, and your chances to go above and beyond the expected in the foreground? To see other people are just as real as you are, to look behind their faces to their hearts, hungry for joy? To own that probably the only good reason for your existence is not what you are going to get out of life, but what you are going to give to life? To close your book of complaints against the management of the universe and look around you for a place where you can sow a few seeds of happiness—are you willing to do these things even for a day? Then you can keep Christmas.
Are you willing to stoop down and consider the needs and the desires of little children? To remember the weakness and loneliness of people who are growing old? To stop asking how much your friends love you, and ask yourself whether you love them enough? To bear in mind the things other people bear on their hearts? To try to understand what those who live in the same house with you really want, without waiting for them to tell you? To trim your lamp so it will give more light and less smoke, and to carry it in front so that your shadow will fall behind you? To make a grave for your ugly thoughts, and a garden for your kindly feelings, with the gate open—are you willing to do these things even for a day? Then you can keep Christmas.
Are you willing to believe that love is the strongest thing in the world—stronger than hate, stronger than evil, stronger than death-—and that the blessed life which began in Bethlehem centuries ago is the image and brightness of the Eternal Love? Then you can keep Christmas.
And if you keep it for a day, why not always?
But you can never keep it alone.
Henry van Dyke penned these words in 1905. They still ring true today.