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The Wisdom Of Barnyard Bruke: "Keep'n Christmas Alive"

Greet'ins to ever one in western Illinois and to all readers of The Quill. I'm a hope'n all are maintain'n their good Christmas spirit as we move closer to a new year.

Henry VanDyke addressed those feel'ins many years ago. He was born 11-10-1852 and died 4-10-1933, to a clergyman of the Presbyterian persuasion, from Germantown, Pennsylvania. VanDyke had the respect of great writers such as Mark Twain and James Whitcome Riley and was friends to President Woodrow Wilson, who appointed him president of the National Institute of Arts and Letters. he volunteered dure'n the war fer service and was a lieutenant commander in the Chaplain Corps and received the Cross of the Legion of Honor from France.

As a pastor himself, VanDyke ws a versatile writer and a gifted religious leader. He touched the lives of thousands of Americans and in everything he spoke of or wrote of he included a deep reverence for God and his creation. He used his talents to serve God all his life.

His write'n on Keep Christmas is as follows:

"It is a good thing to observe Christmas Day. The mere marking of times and seasons, when men agree to stop work and make merry together, is a wise and wholesome custom. It helps one to feel the supremacy of the common life over the individual life. It reminds a man to set his own little watch, now and then, by the great clock of humanity which runs on sun time.

But there is a better thing than the observance of Christmas Day, and that is keeping Christmas.

Are you willing to forget what you have done for other people and to remember what other people have done for you; to ignore what the world owes you and to think what you owe the world; to put your rights in the background and your duties in the middle distance and your chances to do a little more than your duty in the foreground; to see that your fellow men 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 you for a place where you can sow a few seeds of happiness---are you willing to do these things for even a day? Then you can keep Christmas.

Are you willing to stoop down and consider the needs and 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 that other people have to 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 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 kind 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 death---and that the blessed life which began in Bethlehem nineteen hundred years ago is the image and brightness of 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."

Thar ya has it then. I'm a hope'n you'ns might pause a bit and reflect on VanDykes words.

Here's wish'n ever one a Happy New Year. Remember-ya cain't start over and make a new begin'n but ever one can begin anew fer a new end'n!

Where ever ya is, what ever ya be a do'in, BE A GOOD ONE!

Hope'n to see you'ns in church as the spirit moves ya. Keep on Smile'n Catch ya later Barnyard Bruke