JANUARY 2, 1936
WASHINGTON—We did not have a very large family group to see the New Year in, but my eldest son and his wife were with us; three friends of theirs; a young cousin, Mr. Joseph W. Alsop, who has been sent by his paper to cover news in Congress; and a half dozen other close friends. At eleven-forty-five, we were sitting in my husband's study, The Oval Room, and we turned on the radio so as to be sure of the exact moment. A traditional New Year's eggnog was passed around. As the clock struck twelve, we all stood up and over the radio floated "Auld Lang Syne," as my husband proposed the first toast which is always: "To The United States." Then followed the New Year's greetings to each other, a telephone call to our daughter in New York. It was one-thirty before we all stopped talking and finally went on our way to bed.
I was particularly struck, in talking with some of the younger men to find their minds running on such serious subjects as what would be the outcome in various European countries of their present situations. On no previous New Year, can I remember hearing history so violently discussed, and social conditions evaluated as to their bearing both at home and abroad. Many shades of political opinion were represented, but the whole trend of conversation strengthened my belief that the thing we all have to be thankful for, as we look back over this past year, is a growing sense of responsibility and social consciousness among all our citizens.
Of neccessity the holidays take on some color from the youthful element in the household. Last evening we certainly divided our interests!
All during this past autumn, our two Harvard boys have been attending a course in sociology given by Professor Zimmerman, and one of them has had as an advisor, Professor Boldyreff. Because the course dealt with questions of our own government, and there were conflicting points of view, the boys were anxious to have these gentlemen come down here, so last night they came.
The subject under discussion being the AAA, Secretary and Mrs. Wallace, and Mr. and Mrs. Chester Davis were also asked, together with a large group of young cousins who had very little interest in these—to them—academic questions of government. I provided a movie for the latter's entertainment and the boys having told me they felt the discussion would be of greater interest if there were not too many people there, I attended the movie with the ladies. The movie did not appeal to me, so I wondered all the time what was going on behind the closed door of the Oval Room. At eleven-thirty, the movie was over and the young people, and Mrs. Wallace and Mrs. Davis, decided to go home. The discussion still went on, so my daughter, Anna, and I went into my sitting room to talk and await the results. In about half an hour everybody except the President, Secretary Wallace and Mr. Davis, burst in upon us. Professor Zimmerman and I almost started the discussion anew, but I came to the conclusion that it was one of those discussions that are more or less profitless. There are so many things which you do not have to consider if you are developing and studying a theory in a classroom. It is useful to deal with theories in developing youthful minds for later they will deal with facts and profit by what they have learned of other men's thoughts, but it is quite different to be faced with actual situations that have to be met in one way or another in a given period of time.