“Breathtaking scenery, stunning miracles, amazing museums & castles, ancient sites, bounteous Early Apostle Missionary adventures, unsurpassed treachery toward Bible Translators, even intriguing romance–& so much more.” Sound like the latest blockbuster hit? Even better!–YOU can EXPERIENCE these unforgettable events July 26-August 4 on our LDS British Church History and Bible Translators’ Tour.
Register by May 4 to secure your spot, where seating is limited, for an early sign-up rate! Price after that date is subject to current airline rates. Join veteran British Church History guides for this one-of-a-kind tour. Our expert tour guides’ unique knowledge, access, and contacts provide what no other group can offer. With all of this plus very nice lodging, delicious meals, and free time in exciting London there is no reason for you not to join us!
Be sure you contact our office this week at 801-272-5601 or firstname.lastname@example.org to redeem your Missouri to Nauvoo to Winter Quarters tour prize!
Congrats to 12th Day daily drawing winner, Robert Berrett, who won a wood carved olive wood Holy Family decoration!
This is our 12th and final day of Christmas Past. We’ve enjoyed bringing back the past and hope you have as well. Our grand prize FREE tour drawing will be tonight! For an extra last entry, post something under our recommendations on facebook.
In our bounteous lives, we may well reflect upon the more meager Christmas seasons of our pioneer ancestors. We might say to ourselves, “But that was yesterday. What about today? Have times changed? Is everyone so well off that he doesn’t need the real spirit of Christmas?”
To this I would answer, Times have not changed. The commandments of God are the same. The principles of gratitude and of giving of oneself are the same, because today, like yesterday, there are hearts to gladden and there are lives to cheer and there are blessings to bestow upon our fellowmen.
Isn’t that the spirit of Christmas, really—to forget self and to think of others? I clipped an item taken from the diary of Mrs. Rebecca Riter, entered December 26, 1847. She describes that first Christmas in the Valley of the Great Salt Lake:
“The winter was cold. Christmas came, and the children were hungry. I had brought a peck of wheat across the plains and had hidden it under a pile of wood. I thought I would cook a handful of wheat for the baby. Then I thought how we would need wheat for seed in the spring, so I left it alone.”
During the first few years after the arrival of the pioneers in the valley the dirt floors of the log cabins sufficed for the dances and socials that were a regular and important part of their lives. There was little furniture in the best of the homes, but what there was couldn’t be damaged by being set outdoors, so the rooms were cleared, and through many a winter night could be heard the strains of the violins accompanying the dancers.
One of the first socials of which there is any record took place on Christmas night in 1850. A pioneer mother wrote of the affair: “On this day I went to Brigham’s mill to a Christmas party. Stayed all night. We had a first rate supper at midnight. I helped to get it on the table. They danced all night until 5 o’clock in the morning the party broke up.”
In the pioneer homes and towns of Utah, the Christmas day was always fittingly celebrated. And in those far gone days, the children were taught to appreciate any little gift. There was no store full of toys, as we have them today. Sometimes a man gave a beaver skin or a buffalo robe to his wife and children. The gift made all happy. Often the head of a household provided venison and wild fowl for a feast, and all shared, and neighbors were invited to partake. There was no selfishness, no envy, no bigotry. People did not hold themselves aloof from others. There was a social equality and regard for one another, that was sincere and spiritual. They were people who not only knew the truth, they were people of the truth. On Christmas day, they had the real Christmas spirit. It was the day of Christ to them, and in every gift, there was the expression of the love and good will of the giver. Children did not have every whim pacified; they were satisfied with any little plaything, and the dissatisfaction seen among the young people today, was absent from the home and school. There was manifested a joy in living, and when they prayed they felt God’s watchful care; when they worked, they knew of his helpful presence.
Story still available on yesterday’s 11th Day Question and Story post.
Congrats to 11th Day drawing winner, Luis Burgos, who won a Nauvoo Sunstone ornament!
(To be entered into today’s giveaway & FREE tour drawing, Comment & Share your thoughts of story below on Facebook or our blog.)
The Best Christmas Ever
In the early 1930s, Margaret Kisilevich and her sister Nellie gave a Christmas gift to their neighbors, the Kozicki family, which was remembered by them all their lives and which has become an inspiration to their families.
Home to Margaret back then was Two Hills, Alberta, Canada—a farming community populated largely by Ukrainian and Polish immigrants who generally had large families and were very poor. It was the time of the Great Depression.
Margaret’s family consisted of her mother and father and their 15 children. Margaret’s mother was industrious and her father was enterprising—and with all those children, they had a built-in labor force. Consequently, their home was always warm, and despite their humble circumstances, they were never hungry. In the summer they grew an enormous garden, made sauerkraut, cottage cheese, sour cream, and dill pickles for barter. They also raised chickens, pigs, and beef cattle. They had very little cash, but these goods could be exchanged for other commodities they could not produce themselves.
Margaret’s mother had friends with whom she had emigrated from the old country. These friends owned a general store, and the store became a depot for folks in the area to donate or trade surplus hand-me-down clothing, shoes, etc. Many of these used items were passed along to Margaret’s family.
Alberta winters were cold, long, and hard, and one particularly cold and difficult winter, Margaret and her sister Nellie noticed the poverty of their neighbors, the Kozicki family, whose farm was a few miles away. When the Kozicki father would take his children to school on his homemade sleigh, he would always go into the school to warm himself by the potbelly stove before returning home. The family’s footwear consisted of rags and gunny sacks cut into strips and wrapped about the legs and feet, stuffed with straw, and bound with twine.
Margaret and Nellie decided to invite the Kozicki family, by way of the children, for Christmas dinner. They also decided not to tell anyone in their family of the invitation.
Christmas morning dawned, and everyone in Margaret’s family was busy with the preparations for the midday feast. The huge pork roast had been put in the oven the night before. The cabbage rolls, doughnuts, prune buns, and special burnt sugar punch had been prepared earlier. The menu would be rounded out with sauerkraut, dill pickles, and vegetables. Margaret and Nellie were in charge of getting the fresh vegetables ready, and their mother kept asking them why they were peeling so many potatoes, carrots, and beets. But they just kept peeling.
Their father was the first to notice a team of horses and a sleigh packed with 13 people coming down their lane. He, being a horse lover, could recognize a team from a long distance. He asked his wife, “Why are the Kozickis coming here?” Her response to him was, “I don’t know.”
They arrived, and Margaret’s father helped Mr. Kozicki stable the horses. Mrs. Kozicki embraced Margaret’s mother and thanked her for inviting them for Christmas. Then they all piled into the house, and the festivities began.
The adults ate first, and then the plates and cutlery were washed, and the children ate in shifts. It was a glorious feast, made better by the sharing of it. After everyone had eaten, they sang Christmas carols together, and then the adults settled down for another chat.
Margaret and Nellie took the children into the bedroom and pulled from under the beds several boxes filled with hand-me-downs they had been given by their mother’s merchant friends. It was heavenly chaos, with an instant fashion show and everyone picking whatever clothes and footwear they wanted. They made such a racket that Margaret’s father came in to see what all the noise was about. When he saw their happiness and the joy of the Kozicki children with their “new” clothes, he smiled and said, “Carry on.”
Early in the afternoon, before it got too cold and dark with the setting sun, Margaret’s family bid farewell to their friends, who left well fed, well clothed, and well shod.
Margaret and Nellie never told anyone about their invitation to the Kozickis, and the secret remained until Margaret Kisilevich Wright’s 77th Christmas, in 1998, when she shared it with her family for the first time. She said it was her very best Christmas ever.
Story still available on yesterday’s 10th Day Question and Story post.
Congrats to 10th Day drawing winner, Judy Bailey, who won a beautiful set of carved olive wood ornaments from Israel!