A Happier New Year

The Fireside—News and Views from The Living New Deal

A Happier New Year

On Christmas Eve for ten years running, the President and Mrs. Roosevelt hosted an annual party at the White House for staff and their families. Police, cooks, maids, butlers and office employees all were invited. The First Couple would hand out small tokens of appreciation for their hard work. In 1934, they gave out autographed copies of the president’s book, On Our Way. Between 1935 and 1939, the gifts were pewter letter openers, mail organizers, and paperweights. In 1940, staff were given silver key chains featuring a Scottish terrier, in honor of Fala, the new “First Dog” (who reportedly had his own Christmas stocking). After the party, the Roosevelts and their guests would head outside for the lighting of the National Christmas Tree. In 1943, during some of the darkest days of World War II, FDR delivered a heartening Christmas Eve Fireside Chat. “We may look forward into the future with real, substantial confidence that, however great the cost, ‘peace on earth, good will toward men’ can be and will be realized and insured.” Read more at the White House Historical Association’s website.

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