15. What special guest did Ezra Taft Benson get to have at his family home evening just before Christmas?
Pres. Benson’s remembrance of this is below:
“Our family lived for eight years during the 1950s in Washington, D.C., while I served in the Cabinet of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. That unusual setting provided unusual experiences.
So much of what we did in Washington turned out to be a family affair. Certainly that was the case each Christmas as my wife and children pitched in to participate in the staff party held in the Department of Agriculture, where I served as Secretary. I delivered a spiritual message, our daughters usually sang, and Flora made many of the arrangements and often recited a favorite poem. It seemed that whenever she recited Edgar A. Guest’s “It Takes a Heap O Livin’ in a House to Make It Home” the press made particular mention of it in their reports.
Almost every year we held a Christmas fireside in our home. Sometimes over a hundred young people crowded inside and sat on the floor, steps, anywhere they could find a place. My wife and our daughters prepared wonderful refreshments for everyone, and I was honored to talk about the Savior and His mission. It was some of these simple occasions that brought greatest satisfaction.
Just four days before Christmas in 1954, our family had a most unusual opportunity. President Eisenhower knew our custom of having a family hour one night during the week, and he expressed a wish to see how it was done. President and Mrs. Eisenhower and our family gathered that evening in the home of J. Willard and Alice Marriott for an evening of holiday fun and entertainment. Our sons performed comic skits and other readings, the girls sang, Flora recited a reading, and I did my part by leading the whole group in singing “John Brown’s Baby Had a Cold upon Its Chest.” It was plain, old-fashioned, homespun entertainment. The President and his party participated and seemed to enjoy it all. For our part, we were delighted with the opportunity to share an evening with the President.”
Taken from: Ezra Taft Benson, Ezra Taft Benson Remembers the Joy of Christmas, p. 8.