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What Do You Want for Christmas?

woman with christmas gifts beside decorated fir tree
Photo by Laura James on

by Ronald R Johnson (

Quotable Quotes from Lloyd C. Douglas

From a sermon entitled, “What Do You Want for Christmas?” preached at the First Congregational Church of Ann Arbor, Michigan, on Sunday, December 14, 1919:

How would a wish like this strike you? To wish for some added grace of character that would make people love you, not for anything you had on, or for the house you happened to live in, or the material possessions you were known to command, but just because you are you.

So that, if the clothes go out of style, or the moth eats them up, or the house burns down, or panic upsets business, and rust corrodes your machinery – you will still be possessed of a grace of character that will make people respect you, and have confidence in you, and be glad when you come into the room where they are, and sorry when you leave.

The ability to wake up every morning with a smile and go to sleep every night with peace of mind and satisfaction of heart.

How would you like a gift that would ensure your happiness, in all kinds of weather; that would hold you independent of the inroads of little disappointments – a sort of perpetual guarantee against despair and dissatisfaction?

Somehow, I believe that if we might today choose, for a Christmas gift, absolutely anything we really wanted, to last us for life, this gift that I have been talking about would meet the demand.

Well, you may have it! Take it, and welcome.

Lloyd C Douglas, “What Do You Want for Christmas?” in Lloyd C. Douglas Papers, Sermons [4], Box 3, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan.

Seems like an abrupt ending, doesn’t it? Shouldn’t he have invited his listeners to come to Christ in that moment? But that was never his way. Douglas was always careful not to “stampede” people (his word) into making a commitment while under the emotional influence of the architecture, the music, and (yes) his own God-given eloquence. He wanted his listeners to continue thinking about it after the service was over, and to hear his question ringing in their ears above the noise of traffic as they headed home. If they truly didn’t know the next step, then he hoped they’d make an appointment with him to discuss it. But he trusted his material (the sermon he had been given) to continue doing its work after it was over.

So here it is, a hundred years later, still doing its work. What do you want for Christmas?

For a free PDF of the booklet, The Secret Investment of Lloyd C Douglas, fill in the form below:

Author: Ronald R Johnson

I am a Christian author and philosophy professor who speaks and writes about everyday spirituality. I also write funny, suspenseful novels that aren't philosophical or religious... or are they? Learn more at

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