by Ginger Philbrick
On September 3, 1850, Eugene Field came into this world in St. Louis, Mo. Although his life was to be only 45 years long, and filled with great loss, he is considered to have lived happily and successfully, publishing numerous poems and humorous essays and more than a dozen books. He is especially remembered for his children’s works, excerpts from one of which, “Jest’ Fore Christmas,” I want us to share here. Although written in the late 1800s, it remains delightfully sound advice for youth at Christmastime—and always!
Father calls me William, sister calls me Will,
Mother calls me Willie, but the fellers call me Bill!
‘Most all the time the whole year round, there ain’t no flies on me,
But jest ‘fore Christmas I’m as good as I kin be!
…I am so perlite an’ tend earnestly to biz,
That mother says to father, “How improved our Willie is!”
But father, havin’ been a boy hisself, suspicions me
When jest ‘fore Christmas I’m as good as I can be.
For Christmas, with its lots an’ lots of candies, cakes an’ toys,
Was made, they say, for proper kids an’ not for naughty boys;
So wash yer face an’ bresh yer hair, an’ mind yer p’s and q’s,
And don’t bust out your pantaloons , and don’t wear out yer shoes;
Say “Yessum” to the ladies, and “Yessur” to the men,
An’ when they’s company, don’t pass yer plate for pie again;
But, thinkin’ of the things yer’d like to see upon that tree,
Jest ‘fore Christmas be as good as yer kin be!
May your tree and your hearts be full of the Joy of Christmas!
Ginger Philbrick is the owner of Because You Are Polite LLC. You are invited to email your manners questions to her and she will respond as time and space allow. You may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.