Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Christmas With George Washington

1772 George Washington (1732-1799) by Charles Willson Peale detail

George Washington's letters record the giving of gifts to children in the colonial South. George's Christmas list for his stepchildren in 1758-59 was ambitious: “A bird on Bellows, A Cuckoo, A turnabout parrot, A Grocers Shop, An Aviary, A Prussian Dragoon, A Man Smoakg, (a man smoking?) 6 Small Books for Children, 1 Fash. dress’d Baby & other toys...a Tunbridge Tea Set; 3 Neat Books, a Tea Chest. A straw parchment box with a glass and a neat dress'd wax baby."

In 1783, George Washington retired, and spent Christmas at Mount Vernon with his family and the air was filled with "rousing cheers, song, pistol shots and firecrackers." A relative who spent that Christmas with the Washington's wrote this account: "I must tell you what a charming day I spent at Mt. Vernon with Mama and Sally. The General and Madame came home on Christmas Eve and such a racket as the servants made. They were glad of their coming. Three handsome young officers came with them. All Christmas afternoon people came to pay their respects and duty. Among these were stately dames and gay young women. The General seemed happy and Mrs Washington was up before daybreak making everything as agreeable as possible."