Click to hear artists who have sung Christmas As I Knew It

Follow Us

Christmas As I Knew It Christmas Song

Christmas As I Knew It

Year: 1963

Written By: Johnny Cash, Jan Howard

'Christmas As I Knew It' is a spoken word ballad by Johnny Cash that tells the story of a Christmas he spent back home on the family farm in Arkansas. The heart-warming events unfold slowly in Cash's gravelly yet sympathetic tones as he pines for a simpler time when there wasn't much to go round except bountiful happiness and goodwill. 'Christmas As I Knew It' can be found on numerous Christmas compilations from the man in black but was originally released on 1963's 'The Christmas Spirit'. What a thoughtful piece it is, with a lone cowboy guitar and Cash's fond rememberences. The video below has Cash performing the song on his 1976 TV Christmas special.


Christmas As I Knew It Lyrics

One day near Christmas, when I was just a child
Mama called us together; mama tried to smile
She said, "You know the cotton crop hasn't been too good this year
There's no spending money, and well, at least we're all here".

"I hope you won't expect a lot of Christmas presents
Just be thankful that there is plenty to eat
That's a blessing that'll make things a little more pleasant".

And us kids got to thinking how really blessed we were
At least we were all healthy and best of all, we had her.

Roy cut down a pig apple tree
And we drug it home, Jack and me
Daddy killed a squirrel and Louise made the bread
Reba decorated the tree with popcorn strings
Before we went to bed.

Mama and daddy sacrificed
Cause this Christmas was lean
But after all there was the babies Tom and Joanne
Babies need a few things.

I whittled a whistle for my brother Jack
And though we fought now and then
When I gave Jack that whistle
He knew I thought the world of him.

Mama made the girl's dresses out of flour sacks
And when she ironed them down
You couldn't tell that they hadn't come from town.

A sharecropper's family across the road
Didn't have it as good as us
They didn't even have a light and it was way past dusk.

And mama said, "Well, I bet they don't even have coal or beans to boil
A log, apples oranges and such".
Me and Jack took a jar of coal, and some hickor' nuts we'd found
We walked to the sharecropper's porch and set 'em down.

A poor old ragged lady eased open the door
She picked up the coal and hickor' nuts and said,
"I sure do thank ye", and quickly closed the door.

We started back home, me and Jack
And about halfway, we stopped and looked back
And in the sharecropper's window, at last was a light
So, for one of the neighbors and for us
It was a good Christmas night.

Christmas came and Christmas went
Christmas that year was heaven sent
Then daddy put on his gumboots
Waited for the thaw back home in Dyess, Arkansas.