The Oaks’ Duane Allen Reflects on the Christmas Song That Wasn’t
There has long been a magic surrounding The Oak Ridge Boys’ 1982 holiday classic, “Thank God for Kids.” Oaks member Duane Allen knows that magic firsthand: He gets to watch it from the stage each and every night he sings the Christmas hit.
“It is a huge blessing from God that we were at the right place at the right time in our career to have the opportunity to record that song,” reflects Allen during a recent interview with Taste of Country. “We thank God every day that it was a song that came into our lives.”
However, as the story goes, the song wasn’t originally written as a Christmas song at all. As the mainstay country group — made up of Allen, Joe Bonsall, William Lee Golden, and Richard Sterban — was coming off the success of their multi-platinum hit “Elvira,” their ecord label was encouraging them to make a Christmas album, and “Thank God for Kids” happened to fall in their laps around the very same time.
“We released it as a single around Thanksgiving of 1982 and it just started going right up the charts as a Christmas song,” Allen remembers of the song, which was written by Eddy Raven and has a spot on the track list of The Oaks’ 1982 album, Christmas. “But then Christmas came and went, and the little song just kept going.”
And in February of 1983, “Thank God for Kids” gave The Oaks another Top 5 hit. Now, as 2022 marks the touching song’s 40th anniversary, it’s a staple in the setlist of the Grammy Award-winning and Country Music Hall of Fame members, especially during their annual holiday residency at the Gaylord Opryland Resort.
“We attract a lot of special needs children, and they always seem to relate to ‘Thank God for Kids,’” Allen explains. “When that song is performed in our show, it’s like the world opens up to them. Looking from the stage as artists, we get to look into their world for three minutes while we do that song.”
Through the years, the song has held a multitude of personal meanings to Allen.
“In the beginning, it was my children that I thought of every time I performed it,” he says quietly. “But yes, it has taken on a different meaning during different periods of our life, as grandkids and great grandkids have been added to our families. It is always a tearjerker.”
And forevermore, it will be a song that will live on in the hearts of so many. “Songs like this make moments for not only our audience, but they also mark it in time for us,” he concludes. “As I’m saying this to you right now, I’m getting chills all up and down my arms. It’s a special one, that’s for sure.”
The Oaks’ Christmas in Tennessee Dinner Show runs through December 25, 2022.