My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text
[NOTE TO EDITORS—This column is being mailed in advance because of the holiday. There will be no wire service Christmas Eve.]

WASHINGTON, Sunday—I hope that some of us have been moved this Christmas to do something a bit unusual in the line of Christmas giving. Let's not limit ourselves just to the customary gifts to our families and friends, nor even to our customary charities, but let's give something which will come to someone else as an unexpected pleasure, just as it is an unexpected gift on our part.

It may not be anything tangible, just a thought or a gesture, a word or a note, but I hope it will go to someone who does not expect it.

Because of Mr. Heywood Broun's death, his Christmas Parable, written two years ago, was reprinted the other day. The ending of it is the part that I always like to remember: "'Drink ye all of it.' Good Will Toward Men means good will to every last son of God. Peace on Earth means peace to Pilate, peace to the thieves on the cross, and peace to poor Iscariot."

Judas Iscariot was perhaps the saddest of them all, for he betrayed his Friend, but even against him the Betrayed One had no bitterness. The Lord would have him drink of the wine of life. Perhaps He meant to emphasize that none of us can tell what goes on in the souls of other men. At Christmas time we should give indiscriminately, even lavishly, to the worthy and the unworthy alike. Who are we to judge if a man is worthy?

Someone wrote to me the other day denouncing the head of a school board in his neighborhood, who had announced most virtuously that for the sake of fostering independence and the true American spirit, there would be no more free lunches served to needy children in a certain school. The man who wrote me was bitter and one can hardly blame him. I grieve with him over the little hungry children, for I know that to many of them this one hot meal a day meant much, but I grieve far more for the head of the school board whose understanding of his fellow men is so narrow. Life for him must be poor indeed.

Are we fostering the American spirit by starving little children? Oh, yes, I know that some of them may not have needed that meal. Perhaps some families were "chiseling." Would the Man who said: "Drink ye all of it," have had one child go hungry because some ate who could have eaten at home?

This is the season for forgiveness and self-searching. Let us forgive all those who cannot understand, whether they are heads of school boards or beggars in the gutter. But beware lest we be ourselves numbered among those needing forgiveness. Let us remember that the Christmas spirit was meant to live through all the three hundred sixty-five days of the year, and that it gave without counting the cost, lavishly and from the heart.