Saying Told to Children

“If Ifs and buts were candy and nuts oh what a Christmas we’d have!”

The informant says she heard the saying from her parents when she grew up in the 70’s-80’s. The informant grew up in Virginia outside of Washington D.C. It was primarily said to her and her siblings when she was in elementary school after she did something wrong and tried to make an excuse or justify it. It was a common saying according to her that was regularly said by teachers and other parents too

“If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, oh what a Christmas we’d have!” is a quaint retort to a child’s excuse-making but it can tell us a lot about the goals and culture of parents in America at this time. It is a blend of personal accountability, practical wisdom, and the use of humor in teaching, that parents use while trying to instill important values in their children. This saying is meant to teach kids not to be someone who makes excuses and to instead just act the right way. It is said in a fun and memorable way that a kid would remember. This highlights the American spirit of “pulling yourself up by the bootstraps” or not making excuses and just working hard to be successful. This way of thinking was especially prevalent during the 70’s-80’s and this children’s saying highlights that parents goals at the time were to make sure their kids also thought this way too.