A Christmas Challenge
by Henry Van Dyke
[source unknown]

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 to think what you owe to the world;

To put your rights in the background,
and your duties in the middle distance,
and your chance to do a little more than your duty in the foreground;

To see that your fellowmen are just as real as you are;
and try 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 for where you can sow seeds of happiness?

Are you willing to do these things even for one day?
Then you can keep Christmas.

Are you willing to stoop down
and consider the needs and desires of little children;

To remember
the weaknesses 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 that other people have to bear in 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 that 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
two-thousand years ago
is the image and brightness of the Eternal Love?

Then you can keep Christmas.

And if you can keep Christmas for a day, why not always?

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