Despite all the joys and pleasures of the Christmastime, most sensitive people soon come to realize that its giving is far from ideal. It is a bloom that too frequently lacks fragrance,—a sunset sky without either crescent or star. There is a fair form, but there is no beating heart within, and all this because it is more or less calculated, if not competitive; it is wanting in spontaneous impulse. It may be very kindly, but it is not free and natural. When, however, some little token tells of love's patient and perchance self-sacrificing efforts to supply another's need, the presence of the saving quality of true kindliness is recognized, and such giving is never forgotten; but when, as is so often the case, we have a feeling that we have received or are giving because it is the 25th of December and something is expected, or because some sense of indebtedness is being canceled, then we know that the heart of the deed is pulseless and cold; that we are celebrating a pagan rather than a Christian rite.

The spirit of the true Christmas is the spirit of love, and love is perennial, continuous. From the altar of its pure heart the perfume is forever ascending. We must needs date a human event, but the nobler Christmas celebration honors that divine appearing whose radiance floods every morning and every evening of the years. Instead of consenting to any bondage of time-necessity, or custom-requirement, it cultivates the habit of doing and saying the truly helpful thing upon every occasion, giving of good whenever the need and the opportunity is presented.

When Christmas day brings a gift we say, "That was very good of him," even though it prove a trial to our taste; but when in some weary week there comes to us a little show of remembrance, of appreciation of our load and the heroism of our effort to bear it, then we say, "That was so dear of him," and through our tears of gratitude we gain a clearer vision, see a brighter sky, for days.

December 23, 1911

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