The following column by Erma Bombeck was
first published six years ago at Christmas. It was instantly adopted as
a tradition by her readers. Every year since, it has been republished
by popular demand and has now become a Christmas classic in its own
right. Thus, for Christmas 1971, here is Erma Bombeck's beautiful and
nostalgic greeting to her readers.
There is nothing sadder in this world
than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child.
Not to feel the cold on your bare feet as you rush to the
Christmas tree in the living room. Not to have your eyes sparkle at the
wonderment of discovery. Not to rip the ribbons off the shiny boxes with
When did the cold, bare feet give way to reason and a
pair of sensible bedroom slippers? When did the sparkle and the
wonderment give way to depression of a long day? When did a box with a
shiny ribbon mean an item on the "charge?"
A child of Christmas doesn't have to be a toddler or a
teen. A child of Christmas is anyone who believes that Kings have
The Christmases you loved so well are gone. What happened?
Maybe they diminished the year you decided to have your
Christmas cards printed to send to 1,500 of your "closest friends
and dearest obligations." You got too busy to sign your own name.
Maybe it was the year you discovered the traditional
Christmas tree was a fire hazard
and the needles had to be vacuumed
every three hours and you traded its holiday aroma for a silver one that
revolved, changed colors, played "Silent Night" and snowed on
Or the year it got to be too much
trouble to sit around the table and put popcorn and cranberries on a
string. Possibly you lost your childhood the year you solved your gift
problems neatly and coldly with a checkbook.
Think about it. It might have been the year you were too
rushed to bake and resorted to slice-and-bake with no nonsense. Who
needs a bowl to clean -- or lick?
Most likely it was the year you were so efficient in paying
back all your party obligations. A wonderful little caterer did it for
you for $3 per person.
Children of Christmas are givers. That's what the day is
for. They give thanks, love, gratitude, joy and themselves to one
It doesn't necessarily mean you have to have children
around a tree. It's rather like lighting a candle you've been saving,
caroling when your feet are cold, building a fire in a clean grate,
grinding tinsel deep into the rug, licking frosting off a beater, giving
something you made yourself.
It's laughter, being with people you like, and at some time
falling to your knees and saying, "Thank You for coming to my
How sad indeed to awake on Christmas and not be a child.
Time, self-pity, apathy, bitterness and exhaustion can take
the Christmas out of the child, but you cannot take the child out of