DECEMBER 26, 1941
WASHINGTON, Thursday—Yesterday, I started the morning at 9:00 o'clock, by saying a word at the Capitol Theatre, where the Central Union Mission always holds a children's Christmas party. The children seemed very jolly and happy. I am always surprised at their patience, for one would expect little children to clamor for their presents.
Instead, they sat quietly in their seats and listened to the speeches and joined in singing the carols before anyone suggested that they come up to get their Christmas gifts. I suppose it is long habit with them, but it never seems quite natural to me, even now.
Afterwards, I went over to Arlington, Va., where the Kiwanis Club held their children's party. Then I spent an hour and a half at the Office of Civilian Defense to clean up the most essential work. I left there at 11:30 and hoped that the office staff could get through what was left to do and have a little time for their own Christmas preparations.
At 1:30, I went to the Volunteers of America, where they give out big and generous baskets of food every Christmas. General Maud Ballington Booth was present and made a very eloquent short speech.
Back at the White House to work until 4:00 o'clock, when the party is held in the East Room, for all those who are around us in the house. This is the one occasion when we have an opportunity to see the children. I am always much interested, for even a year will bring about great changes in the young members of a family.
Some youngsters who took no interest in shaking hands with the President a year ago, seem suddenly to have acquired a realization that seeing him is an event. They stand wide-eyed and look at him, whereas a year ago their eyes were riveted on the Christmas tree. Carrying out his promise, the President had the ceremony surrounding the lighting of the municipal Christmas tree held on the White House lawn, and spoke from the South Portico.
This morning we all went to the church service, held under the auspices of the Federation of Churches.
The Prime Minister of England said to me that Christmas, or any other holiday, must give way to the necessities of work in the world as it is today, and I can well realize that this is so. These necessities are certainly bound to make a difference in any household where responsibilities for the world situation are centered. For that reason, I think this has been a very unusual day. In the White House we were conscious of the need to stress the spiritual side of this celebration. There can be no merriment or joy, but we can pray to grow in the spirit of goodwill to men.