Christmas Message, 1946

Christmas Message, 1946  (1946) 
by George VI of the United Kingdom

Delivered on 25 December 1946.

This Christmas Day, surrounded by our family circle in our own home, the Queen and I are thinking of that world-wide family of the British Commonwealth and Empire. To each member of that family, the young and old, composed of so many races dwelling in so many climes, we send our heartfelt and affectionate greetings wherever you are.

Whatever your circumstances, our prayer is that this Christmastide will bring you peace and blessing. Christmas comes to cheer our hearts and to revive our faith and courage as the old year dies and the new year is born.

The year that is passing has not been an easy one. Statesmen and politicians have been burdened with the resettlement of a world that has been shattered and ruined by global war. In office, shop, and warehouse, and on the farm, men of all classes have been troubled and harassed by the shortages and economic dislocation that always follows in its wake.

All of us, instead of getting some well earned relaxation after years of intensive work, have had to put our shoulders to the wheels of industry and agriculture with redoubled vigour. Men and women have returned from war-time service to conditions that are only slowly improving from war-time austerity, while the housewife – perhaps the most gallant figure of all – still bears many of the extra burdens which she bore so bravely throughout the war.

With all these trials to be faced, I am indeed proud that you are able to maintain that energy and cheerfulness, that courage which this difficult time demands of us all.

We cannot expect a world so grievously wounded to recover quickly, but its convalescence can certainly be hastened by our continued endurance and good will. We showed the way when the bombs were falling by our discipline, our endurance, our patience. We can show the way again.

In his own good time God will lead our feet into the ways of pace. Though the days may be difficult, let us know forget how much we have to be thankful for.

We have survived the greatest upheaval in human history. Our hard-won liberties and our democratic institutions are unimpaired; our Commonwealth and Empire, though subject to the changes that time must bring, have not been disrupted by the stress and peril of war. We are celebrating Christmas as free men and in peace.

Christmas is the season in which we count our mercies. I know that there are many little things lacking that can add colour and variety to life, but the big things for so many of us have come back – the big things which we longed for in the blitz, in the desert, in the lonely places of the sea or the jungle. We are back, most of us, with those we love. The guns have ceased to kill and the bombs have ceased to fall.

Better days lie ahead. We must not concentrate too much on the difficulties of the present – they will pass – so let us rather think of the possibilities that the future may hold for us.

Our task today is to mobilise the Christmas spirit and to apply its power and healing to our daily life. The devastation and suffering everywhere, and especially in stricken Europe, must move the hearts of all of us, but the reconstruction so urgently needed is quite as much spiritual as material – it is necessary not merely to feed hungry people and to rebuild ruined cities, but also to restore the very soul of civilisation.

We cannot all think alike aid the dilemmas of a changing world. Nor is it right that we should. Opinion striking against opinion ignites the spark that can kindle the lamp of truth. But if our feet are on the road of common charity that leads to ultimate truth, our differences will never destroy our underlying unity, and our disputes will not leave us either embittered or unkind.

If the coming year has its uncertainties, it has also its promises. By God’s help and by our own endeavours let us make these brighter promises come true.

And now, my dear people, I wish you well. May the new year be full of blessing for each one of you. Welcome it when it comes with hope and courage and greet the unseen with a cheer.