The little girl came into her papa's study, as she always did Saturday
morning before breakfast, and asked for a story. He tried to beg off
that morning, for he was very busy, but she would not let him. So he
"Well!" Her papa roused himself from his writing by a great effort.
"Well, then, I'll tell you about the little girl that wanted it
Christmas every day in the year. How would you like that?"
"First-rate!" said the little girl; and she nestled into comfortable
shape in his lap, ready for listening.
"Very well, then, this little pig--Oh, what are you pounding me for?"
"Because you said little pig instead of little girl."
"I should like to know what's the difference between a little pig and a
little girl that wanted it Christmas every day!"
"Papa," said the little girl, warningly, "if you don't go on, I'll
give it to you!" And at this her papa darted off like lightning, and
began to tell the story as fast as he could.
Well, once there was a little girl who liked Christmas so much that
she wanted it to be Christmas every day in the year; and as soon as
Thanksgiving was over she began to send postal-cards to the old
Christmas Fairy to ask if she mightn't have it. But the old fairy
never answered any of the postals; and after a while the little girl
found out that the Fairy was pretty particular, and wouldn't notice
anything but letters--not even correspondence cards in envelopes; but
real letters on sheets of paper, and sealed outside with a
monogram--or your initial, anyway. So, then, she began to send her
letters; and in about three weeks--or just the day before Christmas,
it was--she got a letter from the Fairy, saying she might have it
Christmas every day for a year, and then they would see about having
The little girl was a good deal excited already, preparing for the
old-fashioned, once-a-year Christmas that was coming the next day, and
perhaps the Fairy's promise didn't make such an impression on her as
it would have made at some other time. She just resolved to keep it to
herself, and surprise everybody with it as it kept coming true; and
then it slipped out of her mind altogether.
She had a splendid Christmas. She went to bed early, so as to let
Santa Claus have a chance at the stockings, and in the morning she was
up the first of anybody and went and felt them, and found hers all
lumpy with packages of candy, and oranges and grapes, and pocket-books
and rubber balls, and all kinds of small presents, and her big
brother's with nothing but the tongs in them, and her young lady
sister's with a new silk umbrella, and her papa's and mamma's with
potatoes and pieces of coal wrapped up in tissue-paper, just as they
always had every Christmas. Then she waited around till the rest of
the family were up, and she was the first to burst into the library,
when the doors were opened, and look at the large presents laid out on
the library-table--books, and portfolios, and boxes of stationery, and
breastpins, and dolls, and little stoves, and dozens of handkerchiefs,
and ink-stands, and skates, and snow-shovels, and photograph-frames,
and little easels, and boxes of water-colors, and Turkish paste, and
nougat, and candied cherries, and dolls' houses, and waterproofs--and
the big Christmas-tree, lighted and standing in a waste-basket in the
She had a splendid Christmas all day. She ate so much candy that she
did not want any breakfast; and the whole forenoon the presents kept
pouring in that the expressman had not had time to deliver the night
before; and she went round giving the presents she had got for other
people, and came home and ate turkey and cranberry for dinner, and
plum-pudding and nuts and raisins and oranges and more candy, and then
went out and coasted, and came in with a stomach-ache, crying; and her
papa said he would see if his house was turned into that sort of
fool's paradise another year; and they had a light supper, and pretty
early everybody went to bed cross.
Here the little girl pounded her papa in the back, again.
The little girl slept very heavily, and she slept very late, but she
was wakened at last by the other children dancing round her bed with
their stockings full of presents in their hands.
"What is it?" said the little girl, and she rubbed her eyes and tried
to rise up in bed.
"Christmas! Christmas! Christmas!" they all shouted, and waved their
"Nonsense! It was Christmas yesterday."
Her brothers and sisters just laughed. "We don't know about that. It's
Christmas to-day, anyway. You come into the library and see."
Then all at once it flashed on the little girl that the Fairy was
keeping her promise, and her year of Christmases was beginning. She
was dreadfully sleepy, but she sprang up like a lark--a lark that had
overeaten itself and gone to bed cross--and darted into the library.
There it was again! Books, and portfolios, and boxes of stationery,
"You needn't go over it all, papa; I guess I can remember just what was
there," said the little girl.
Well, and there was the Christmas-tree blazing away, and the family
picking out their presents, but looking pretty sleepy, and her father
perfectly puzzled, and her mother ready to cry. "I'm sure I don't see
how I'm to dispose of all these things," said her mother, and her
father said it seemed to him they had had something just like it the
day before, but he supposed he must have dreamed it. This struck the
little girl as the best kind of a joke; and so she ate so much candy
she didn't want any breakfast, and went round carrying presents, and
had turkey and cranberry for dinner, and then went out and coasted,
and came in with a--
Well, the next day, it was just the same thing over again, but
everybody getting crosser; and at the end of a week's time so many
people had lost their tempers that you could pick up lost tempers
anywhere; they perfectly strewed the ground. Even when people tried to
recover their tempers they usually got somebody else's, and it made
the most dreadful mix.
The little girl began to get frightened, keeping the secret all to
herself; she wanted to tell her mother, but she didn't dare to; and
she was ashamed to ask the Fairy to take back her gift, it seemed
ungrateful and ill-bred, and she thought she would try to stand it,
but she hardly knew how she could, for a whole year. So it went on and
on, and it was Christmas on St. Valentine's Day and Washington's
Birthday, just the same as any day, and it didn't skip even the First
of April, though everything was counterfeit that day, and that was
some little relief.
After a while coal and potatoes began to be awfully scarce, so many
had been wrapped up in tissue-paper to fool papas and mammas with.
Turkeys got to be about a thousand dollars apiece--
And they got to passing off almost anything for turkeys--half-grown
humming-birds, and even rocs out of the Arabian Nights--the real
turkeys were so scarce. And cranberries--well, they asked a diamond
apiece for cranberries. All the woods and orchards were cut down for
Christmas-trees, and where the woods and orchards used to be it
looked just like a stubble-field, with the stumps. After a while they
had to make Christmas-trees out of rags, and stuff them with bran,
like old-fashioned dolls; but there were plenty of rags, because
people got so poor, buying presents for one another, that they
couldn't get any new clothes, and they just wore their old ones to
tatters. They got so poor that everybody had to go to the poor-house,
except the confectioners, and the fancy-store keepers, and the
picture-book sellers, and the expressmen; and they all got so rich
and proud that they would hardly wait upon a person when he came to
buy. It was perfectly shameful!
Well, after it had gone on about three or four months, the little
girl, whenever she came into the room in the morning and saw those
great ugly, lumpy stockings dangling at the fire-place, and the
disgusting presents around everywhere, used to just sit down and
burst out crying. In six months she was perfectly exhausted; she
couldn't even cry any more; she just lay on the lounge and rolled her
eyes and panted. About the beginning of October she took to sitting
down on dolls wherever she found them--French dolls, or any kind--she
hated the sight of them so; and by Thanksgiving she was crazy, and
just slammed her presents across the room.
By that time people didn't carry presents around nicely any more. They
flung them over the fence, or through the window, or anything; and,
instead of running their tongues out and taking great pains to write
"For dear Papa," or "Mamma," or "Brother," or "Sister," or "Susie," or
"Sammie," or "Billie," or "Bobbie," or "Jimmie," or "Jennie," or
whoever it was, and troubling to get the spelling right, and then
signing their names, and "Xmas, 18--," they used to write in the
gift-books, "Take it, you horrid old thing!" and then go and bang it
against the front door. Nearly everybody had built barns to hold their
presents, but pretty soon the barns overflowed, and then they used to
let them lie out in the rain, or anywhere. Sometimes the police used
to come and tell them to shovel their presents off the sidewalk, or
they would arrest them.
"I thought you said everybody had gone to the poor-house," interrupted
the little girl.
"They did go, at first," said her papa; "but after a while the
poor-houses got so full that they had to send the people back to their
own houses. They tried to cry, when they got back, but they couldn't
make the least sound."
"Because they had lost their voices, saying 'Merry Christmas' so much.
Did I tell you how it was on the Fourth of July?"
"No; how was it?" And the little girl nestled closer, in expectation of
Well, the night before, the boys stayed up to celebrate, as they
always do, and fell asleep before twelve o'clock, as usual, expecting
to be wakened by the bells and cannon. But it was nearly eight o'clock
before the first boy in the United States woke up, and then he found
out what the trouble was. As soon as he could get his clothes on he
ran out of the house and smashed a big cannon-torpedo down on the
pavement; but it didn't make any more noise than a damp wad of paper;
and after he tried about twenty or thirty more, he began to pick them
up and look at them. Every single torpedo was a big raisin! Then he
just streaked it up-stairs, and examined his fire-crackers and
toy-pistol and two-dollar collection of fireworks, and found that they
were nothing but sugar and candy painted up to look like fireworks!
Before ten o'clock every boy in the United States found out that his
Fourth of July things had turned into Christmas things; and then they
just sat down and cried--they were so mad. There are about twenty
million boys in the United States, and so you can imagine what a noise
they made. Some men got together before night, with a little powder
that hadn't turned into purple sugar yet, and they said they would
fire off one cannon, anyway. But the cannon burst into a thousand
pieces, for it was nothing but rock-candy, and some of the men nearly
got killed. The Fourth of July orations all turned into Christmas
carols, and when anybody tried to read the Declaration, instead of
saying, "When in the course of human events it becomes necessary," he
was sure to sing, "God rest you, merry gentlemen." It was perfectly
Well, before it came Thanksgiving it had leaked out who had caused all
these Christmases. The little girl had suffered so much that she had
talked about it in her sleep; and after that hardly anybody would play
with her. People just perfectly despised her, because if it had not
been for her greediness it wouldn't have happened; and now, when it
came Thanksgiving, and she wanted them to go to church, and have
squash-pie and turkey, and show their gratitude, they said that all
the turkeys had been eaten up for her old Christmas dinners, and if
she would stop the Christmases, they would see about the gratitude.
Wasn't it dreadful? And the very next day the little girl began to
send letters to the Christmas Fairy, and then telegrams, to stop it.
But it didn't do any good; and then she got to calling at the Fairy's
house, but the girl that came to the door always said, "Not at home,"
or "Engaged," or "At dinner," or something like that; and so it went
on till it came to the old once-a-year Christmas Eve. The little girl
fell asleep, and when she woke up in the morning--
"She found it was all nothing but a dream," suggested the little girl.
"No, indeed!" said her papa. "It was all every bit true!"
Well, there was the greatest rejoicing all over the country, and it
extended clear up into Canada. The people met together everywhere, and
kissed and cried for joy. The city carts went around and gathered up
all the candy and raisins and nuts, and dumped them into the river;
and it made the fish perfectly sick; and the whole United States, as
far out as Alaska, was one blaze of bonfires, where the children were
burning up their gift-books and presents of all kinds. They had the
The little girl went to thank the old Fairy because she had stopped
its being Christmas, and she said she hoped she would keep her promise
and see that Christmas never, never came again. Then the Fairy
frowned, and asked her if she was sure she knew what she meant; and
the little girl asked her, Why not? and the old Fairy said that now
she was behaving just as greedily as ever, and she'd better look out.
This made the little girl think it all over carefully again, and she
said she would be willing to have it Christmas about once in a
thousand years; and then she said a hundred, and then she said ten,
and at last she got down to one. Then the Fairy said that was the good
old way that had pleased people ever since Christmas began, and she
was agreed. Then the little girl said, "What're your shoes made of?"
And the Fairy said, "Leather." And the little girl said, "Bargain's
done forever," and skipped off, and hippity-hopped the whole way home,
she was so glad.