"My Day" by Eleanor Roosevelt
December 26, 1938
Washington, Sunday—Christmas Day and Christmas Eve lie behind us. The 24th of December is always for me the embodiment of what I call "official Christmas." Though I appreciate all that it means, some things I do, leave me with a lump in my throat.
I began Christmas Eve this year before 9:00 o'clock, for I had two parties for youngsters, one in a Washington theatre, and one given by the Kiwanis Club in Arlington, Virginia. These parties for youngsters are nice because it seems possible for youth to forget the sorrows of life in the enjoyment of the moment. Older people cannot erase from their consciousness a night of tears, but youth can weep one hour and laugh the next and the younger the child, the easier the transition.
In the middle of the day I went both to the Volunteers of America and the Salvation Army, and then at 3:30 we all enjoyed the chance to wish a Merry Christmas to all those who come with their families to the Christmas tree in the East Room. Everyone present at that party in some way touches our daily lives. Though we may not see them every day, it is good to have this opportunity once a year to say "thank you" for the really remarkable service which is rendered by everybody connected with the White House.
I only wish that this party could include all the people who do things indirectly for the White House. For instance, in every Department there are people who answer mail which is sent over because the contents seem to indicate that the answers can be found only in some of the Departments. These letters are answered for the President or for me. Often people will tell me that they feel they know me because they have seen so many letters addressed to me. Again, there are the men who work in the greenhouses which furnish the White House with flowers. They, too, feel they also know us, for they help to fill any boxes of flowers or box any plants which may go out from the White House at different times of the year, as well as to grow plants for the house and garden.
If one included all the people one would like to include, I fear the time allotted to this party on Christmas Eve would not be long enough and the President would not get over to Lafayette Square at 5:00 o'clock to light the municipal tree. So the line has to be drawn somewhere and only here can I pay our tribute to all those far and near who all through the year, unselfishly serve the White House family and the Government.
Christmas Day after the constant activity of Christmas Eve, seemed to bring us back a sense of peace, even though the children woke us early and we had innumerable presents to open around the Christmas tree in the afternoon. Talking to all our family on the telephone and going to church does give a sense of family unity and of the peaceful significance of the day, which is the note on which one's Christmas celebrations should close.
Copyright, 1938, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.