Christmas is particularly enjoyable when watching young children. The excitement of Christmas morning is so embedded in American culture that it has almost become a cliché. In a letter to his sister Anna, Theodore Roosevelt described the enjoyment he received from sharing his children’s excitement on Christmas morning in 1890. At this time, Roosevelt was a United States Civil Service Commissioner, and the family resided in Washington, D.C. His two regrets about Christmas that year were that his sister’s family were unable to join the Roosevelts and that the family could not spend it at Sagamore Hill. There were three young Roosevelts at that time: Alice, age 6; Ted, age 3; and Kermit, age 1.
“But we had a lovely time here; and the children enjoyed it with the same wild rapture we ourselves felt twenty-five years ago; and I think I enjoyed it almost as much as the children. Even Kermit really liked his stocking and toys, though in abject terror of the menagerie of squeaking woolly animals which covered his table. Soon after seven Alice and Ted fairly gallopped (sic) into our room to look for their stockings—such nice stockings, with such an entrancing way of revealing in their bulging outlines the promise of what was inside. They burrowed into them with their eager, chubby little hands, and hailed each new treasure with shouts of delight. Then after breakfast we all walked into the room where the big toys, so many of them! were, on the tables; and I suppose Alice and Ted came as near to realizing the feelings of those who enter Paradise as they ever will on this earth. They worshipped all the wonderful things, and soon the trains of cars were loaded with the luridly imaginative beasts of the Noah’s Ark, while Buffalo Bill and his Indians walked in wonderful procession with soldiers and dolls, and my jaded mind had to find names for each of the new skin horses--by the way, one of their games is to lassoo (sic), throw and brand these skin horses.”
Detail, Letter from Theodore Roosevelt to Anna Roosevelt Cowles, December 26, 1890, MS Am 1834 (293). Theodore Roosevelt Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard University. Electronic copy sponsored by the Theodore Roosevelt Center at Dickinson State University. For reproduction or publication permission, contact the Theodore Roosevelt Collection, Houghton Library.