Saturday morning -- and the children and their father have gone to town to get their Christmas haircuts and do their Christmas shopping, while mother and Luella, with Baby Jo looking on, hurry to hide away some of the candies and gifts that had best be out of sight. It was an exciting morning, getting all the lists made out, deciding how best to manage to make the children's modest hoards reach far enough. Even with the gifts they have made at school, they found it necessary to "go in together" on some names in order to make a presentable showing. But at last every one was accounted for and they are off. The shopping day is almost as important as Christmas itself. And the happiest feature about the whole performance is that not a person was forgotten or left out; and not a gift was planned that is not heartily and generously given. The funds are so small and the lists so large that the children put a 10-cent limit on their gifts; but the loving care with which they spend each dime lends a luster that gold could not give.
It is heart-warming to think of all the thousands of homes where the same activities are going forward this Saturday before Christmas. Even as the "belfries of all Christendom," the hearts of little children (and grownup children, too) are rolling along the unbroken song of love and fellowship. "Give, give, said the little rill," we used to sing in school. "I am small, I know, but where'er I go the fields grow greener still -- the fields grow greener still."
Time for Rejoicing
The sweetness and generosity of the Christmas spirit fill the earth. We rejoice that it is more blessed to give than to receive, and we give not alone material things, but kindliness and tolerance and love -- all in remembrance of that Greatest Gift of long ago. Do you remember how Tiny Tim hoped the people saw him in church, because he was a cripple and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas day Who made lame beggars walk and blind men see? Not a thought of himself and his afflictions, except as it might carry comfort to some one else. So all of us, at Christmastide, yearn to rise above our faults and frailties and give love and understanding to all.
I wish I might send each of you your heart's desire for Christmas. I wish I might even send every one a bayberry candle to burn, for --
"A bayberry candle burned to the socket,
Brings health to the body,
Joy to the heart,
And gold to the pocket."
But since I can't even do that, let me give you my heartfelt wish: May Christmas grant you a richer gift than any material thing. May it give you an inner light which will warm your heart for at least half the year; which will shine like a lamp of peace and good-will over all your relationships with mankind, making you slower to blame and quicker to praise; which will glow so brightly that it will irradiate and make clear to you the motives and acts of other folks; which will illumine your way so that there will be less heartache and more happiness for you and your fellow men on the path you tread this year.
And may you each have the blessing of a few minutes absolutely alone on Christmas day, when you may reread the Story in peace and quiet and mediate on what the angel-message of long ago has meant to the world: "Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which be to all people, for unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord." --Hope
O brother man, fold to they heart thy brother;
Where pity dwells, the peace of God is there;
To worship rightly is to love each other,
Each smile a hymn, each kindly deed a prayer.
I heard the bells on Christmas day,
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of "Peace on earth, good will to men!"
And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christiandom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of "Peace on earth, good will to men!"