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Christmas with Emma
For Joseph Christmas 1826 was most certainly filled with contemplations of his Harmony sweetheart Miss Emma Hale who he had been courting from the residences of two respective employers Josiah Stowell of Bainbridge township, Chenango, Chenango County New York and Joseph Knight Sr. Colesville, Colesville township in Broome County. Their marriage took place within a matter of weeks on January 18, 1827 at South Bainbridge New York. The newlyweds went to live with Joseph’s parents at Manchester where he farmed with his father for a season and was in a position to remove the gold plates from the Hill Cumorah on September 22, 1827.
During December 1827, Joseph and Emma moved from Manchester, New York to Harmony, Pennsylvania where they took up an initial residence with Isaac and Elizabeth Hale, Emma’s father and mother. Here on the Susquehanna he was finally able to begin a serious examination of the characters on the newly acquired golden plates. The holiday season was apparently spent in the home of his in laws.
A year later in December of 1828 Joseph and Emma for the first time were able to enjoy Christmas in the simplicity of their own home. A small one and a half story frame structure that had been placed on thirteen acres acquired from Isaac Hale.
Unfortunately Joseph’s journal writing did not start until after he had been married for some time so there is no first hand account of this time. However, in 1842, Joseph reflected back on his wedding day, “What transports of joy swelled my bosom, when I took by the hand on that night, my beloved Emma . . . even the wife of my youth: and the choice of my heart.” Joseph also reflected looking back on his life: “Many were the reverberations of my mind when I contemplated for a moment the many scenes we had been called to pass through. The fatigues, and the toils, the sorrows, and sufferings, and the joys and consolations from time to time [which] had strewed our paths and crowned our board. Oh! What a co-mingling of thought filled my mind for the moment, again she is here . . . undaunted, firm and unwavering, unchangeable, affectionate Emma.” (Journal Extract, Aug. 16, 23, 1842, in Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, comp. Dean C. Jessee (2002), 560, spelling modernized.)
Even from the very start, Joseph and Emma’s life together was filled with “being about our Heavenly Father’s business”, just as our Savior. Emma readily accepted Joseph Smith’s calling from God and stood by him all his life. Just before his death, Emma wrote, “I desire with all my heart to honor and respect my husband as my head, ever to live in his confidence and by acting in unison with him retain the place which God has given me by his side.” (Emma Hale Smith, Blessing (1844), Church Archives, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah).
Lucy Mack Smith said of Emma, “I have never seen a woman in my life, who would endure every species of fatigue and hardship, from month to month, and from year to year, with that unflinching courage, zeal, and patience, which [Emma Smith] has ever done . . . she has been tossed upon the ocean of uncertainty—she has breasted the storms of persecution, and buffeted the rage of men and devils, which would have borne down almost any other woman. (Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith, the Prophet, and His Progenitors for Many Generations (1853), 169.)
In knowing the circumstances they were facing but also the awareness of the devotion they had for one another, what do you think Joseph And Emma’s first Christmas together was like?
Challenge: Maybe you could remember one of your first Christmas’s (first with a spouse, child, friend) and record it to give to them for Christmas.
Larry C. Porter, “Remembering Christmas Past Presidents of the Church Celebrate the Birth of the Son of Man and Remember His Servant Joseph Smith”, p. 2. Found https://ojs.lib.byu.edu/spc/index.php/BYUStudies/article/viewFile/6804/6453
Dec 2014, http://josephsmith.net/article/joseph-and-emma?lang=eng