1st Day Christmas Past Question & Story

Posted by on Dec 12, 2014 in Christmas Past 2014 | 20 comments

4th-Christmas-Past-Logo-webOn the 1st Day of Christmas Past, another first to ponder.
Question: What was Joseph & Emma’s 1st Christmas together like?

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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




  1. I think it was filled with love for each other. They didn’t have much but they made the most of it and probably spent time with each other.

  2. I have always admired the love that Joseph and Emma had for each other and the love and faith that they had in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. That is undoubtedly the reason that they were able to get through so many hardships and trials.

    Joseph spent Christmas in his own home for the first time in December of 1828, at Harmony on the Susquehanna River. He was undoubtedly still wrestling with the loss of his first child and the disappearance of the one hundred and sixteen pages of the Book of Mormon manuscript. 2 Both events had occurred earlier that year.

    Joseph spent Christmas 1829 at his home in Harmony, no doubt thrilled with the knowledge that the pages of the Book of Mormon were then in the hands of a Palmyra printer and anticipating the volume that would shortly issue from the press.

    In December 1830, Joseph was residing with the Peter Whitmer, Sr. family in the township of Fayette, Seneca County, New York.

    That December was singularly marked by the receipt of three revelations contained in the present Doctrine and Covenants. One of these communications directed the Prophet and the Church to move to Ohio. (D&C 37:1–3) When the third conference of the Church in New York convened at Fayette on 2 January 1831, the Lord instructed those assembled, through his servant, that all of the New York Saints were to gather with their leader in the new location. (D&C 38:31–32) During April and May 1831, the main body of the Church removed to Kirtland and vicinity.
    So their first Christmases together were filled with love for each other and the church and Heavenly Father! They were also filled with many trials tragedies and sorrows. But I know they had faith in him in the father and we’re looking forward to better times, when the church could be all together and free from persecution.
    I love Joseph and Emma very much. I am so thankful for their love for all mankind and for the Lord and the gospel.

  3. Chrstmas in these early years was a simple family celebration of Christ’s birth with decorations of green foliage, a dinner, singing of hymns, attendance at church and perhaps an exchange of simple homemade gifts.

  4. Knowing what Joseph knew about the Savior and the work he, Joseph, had been called to do would make it a very special Christmas for Joseph and Emma. That first Christmas while they were courting would certainly have been filled with joy and happy anticipation of life together ahead of them. Even with the trials they would face, their faith, love, and marriage would bond them together.

  5. Living with his in-laws for their first Christmas must have been a challenge one. But is sounds like their second Christmas together was a wonderful time. Their devotion and love for each other was remarkable. I am sure they were very happy together for their first Christmas even though not on their own.

  6. Christmas is a glorious time of year with fond thoughts of loved ones. Joseph and Emma probably had thoughts and hopes of being together during the Christmas when they were courting. In 1827, their first Christmas while married, was probably meager in the way of gifts but abounded in great amounts of love and anticipation of a wonderful life together. I am sure that they thought about Jesus Christ and his life and gift to the world.

  7. Has there ever been a love story more inspiring than that of Joseph and Emma’s? Opposition followed them throughout their lives. It must have been heartbreaking for Emma to have her parents so opposed to her husband. I imagine on that first Christmas together, living in the Hale home, that Joseph and Emma found joy in each other–perhaps a walk or sleigh ride through the snow, laughing, snuggling, and sharing secrets. Reading the Christmas story from the Bible in front of the fireplace or by candlelight would undoubtedly have taken place. Joseph’s prophetic calling would never have been far from their thoughts or conversations as they anticipated their future lives together.

  8. I’m sure Joseph and Emma’s first Christmas together was one of great joy as they celebrated the birth of our Savior. What insight Joseph must have had to share with Emma of the life and mission of Jesus Christ, as he had seen him, had conversed with him, and had been taught by the angel Moroni of Godly principals previous unknown to men of that time. The bond created and shared by Joseph and Emma during their early years would continue to grow and sustain them through the many hardships and trials to be endured throughout their lives together.

  9. Their first Christmas together was probably filled with hope, anticipation and probably trepidation as they contemplated the Savior and the part they would play in the Restoration and in His kingdom. It was probably all quite overwhelming.

  10. Living with the inlaws for a year–may have been a interesting year-never did that so no experience there–love would be tested soon enough !!!

  11. I would imagine that irregardless of circumstances a new marriage would be a time of joy and hope. I know that they had difficulties but I can imagine their hopes and dreams of their future together and their love of the Lord would bring a wonderful Christmas season.

  12. Living with Emma’s parents would have been very challenging. Emma’s father never believed that Joseph saw God, the Father, and His Son. On the other hand, I can only imagine the tenderness and love that Joseph felt for his new bride. Their love story is truly eternal. By their first Christmas together, Joseph had a personal relationship with the Savior. He had seen Him and been taught by Him. Joseph’s knowledge of Christ and his love of Christ would have made every Christmas a extremely marvelous one.

  13. My thoughts are that their first Christmas together while courting was one of hope, excitement and dreams of their future lives together. Their first Christmas after they were married was filled with love which made up for the lack of material things. Life was hard for them, but the way Joseph speaks of Emma…”the wife of my youth & the choice of my heart” along with his description of her “undaunted, firm & unwavering, unchangeable & affectionate” says it all. He adored her and she was devoted to him no matter the consequenses.

  14. Christmas was very simple I’m sure for the young couple. Emma accepted Joseph’s calling from The Lord. Living with parents has to be hard n trying for th all.

  15. It had to be an emembarrassing situation especially for Emma however they were so in love that they handled it.

  16. I would imagine the move from Manchester, New York to Harmony, Pennsylvania in December was extremely cold. It would be a difficult move today in a warm moving van to maneuver in the snow and ice, but to travel by horse and buggy with everything you owned for hours would have taken great fortitude and determination. There were always new beginnings for Joseph and Emma, suffering heartaches and gut wrenching lessons, but they endured with unshaken faith, total devotion and love for one another. Surely these qualities formed that first year brought an even deeper love for the Savior that first Christmas together.

  17. I believe it might have been a bit strained. They had to move in the dead of winter with the newly acquired plates. I believe Emma was pleased to spend the holidays with her family but apprehensive about the future of Joseph’s work with the translation. I believe they made the most of the opportunity to be together. They loved each other very much.

  18. Christmas wasn’t celebrated then like it is now. It would have been a time for friends and family, but not a lot of gifts. I’m sure they talked about the first vision and the goodness of God.

  19. It’s happy to know that they were so devoted.

  20. I have always loved the special, tender love that always existed between Joseph and Emma. Their love never wavered and grew stronger in spite of their trials. I can only imagine what their first Christmas must have been like. I’m sure they lived in meager circumstances, but they had each other, their families, and their faith. They were and were totally devoted to doing the work Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ asked of them. Their strength and courage was ever present in both Joseph and Emma. They were happy and yet at the

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