2nd Day Christmas Past Question & Story

Posted by on Dec 13, 2014 in Christmas Past 2014 | 11 comments

4th-Christmas-Past-Logo-webOn the 2nd Day of Christmas Past, two young boys felt the warmth.

Question:  How did chopping wood continue to give warmth?

The Smell of a Mothball
By D. Michael Stewart

Mrs. Fruens used to pull her wagon from the store to her home a mile away. Summer and winter she was always dressed in black: shoes, socks, dress, and sweater. Her brown grocery bags leaned like tired sentinels against the sides of her squeaking wagon.
One day as my brother Stew and I were splitting kindling and gathering icicles for a family frolic, we spotted Mrs. Fruens on her way to the store. “Wouldn’t she be surprised if we chopped kindling for her monkey stove while she’s gone,” Stew burst out. The idea took hold immediately; we leaped on our bikes and sped to her yard.  Mrs. Fruens lived in a one-room frame house. A bed, table, chairs, a little carved hutch for knicknacks, a wall basin plumbed for cold water, and a stove for heating and cooking were all she had.  Her husband had died thirty years earlier—shortly after they came to America.
Working quickly, we split and stacked a knee-high pile of wood, then hurriedly swept bark and twigs into a bucket for tinder. But we weren’t soon enough. Before we finished, we heard the squeaks of wheels coming down the street. I was anxious; Mrs. Fruens had been taunted and teased too much. Boys had thrown rocks and cans on her roof at night to frighten her. I was afraid we would not be welcome in her yard. Reaching the gate, she looked at us warily. Then her eye moved to the stack of kindling and the tinder bucket. She glowed. Thrusting her key into the lock, she set her bags inside, then hugged us. It embarrassed me, but it did feel good. Taking us by the hand, she exclaimed, “You good boys. You very good boys. You cut me kindling for a week.”
As we walked to the gate, she scurried into the house and emerged with a colorful can of hardtack candy. Smiling her toothless smile, she held out the can, which smelled of mothballs from having been stored in her closet with her woolens. “Take some,” Stew whispered, “or she’ll be hurt.” She threw us a kiss as we left. We pedaled home in silence.  At home, the kitchen was filled with smells of Christmas. A single candle had been placed near a note, and stretched across the table was a toboggan. We could hardly contain our excitement. We had secretly wanted a toboggan for years.  The note read: “To my boys who do the things I am unable to do. Love, Daddy.” Father had been ill for several months and died the following Easter. His chores had fallen to us.
It was a memorable season. We used the toboggan many times in heavy snows. We rode it hard—even damaging it so that the following season it retired to the rafters of the garage.
Years have passed, the toboggan is gone, and the neighborhood has changed. A freeway runs near the spot where Mrs. Fruen’s house stood. But my mind often floods with the memory of a grateful old woman and two zealous boys chopping wood. That wood has given warmth many times. Once when chopped, twice when burned, and again and again whenever I pass by or smell the odor of a mothball.

How did chopping wood continue to give warmth?

Challenge:  Look around for someone who could use some help and secretively help them.

Written by D. Michael Stewart, Dec 1980



  1. It kept the boys warm while they were working, it kept Mrs. fruens warm while she had the wood and they boys felt warm because they had helped someone else. They kept feeling the warmth everytime they smelled mothballs or walked past her house.

  2. The kind deed continued to give warmth, not only when performed initially, but through the years as the memories would come back to the boys of how they felt in doing this kind act. The warmth filled their hearts. Warmth can fill our hearts in the same way; not only in what we do for others, but the kind deeds and words that others give to us.

  3. The Spiritual warmth that comes from this kind of service lingers long after the physical warmth is gone.

  4. Service, especially when it comes from the heart – with no coercion, lives and warms those that serve and those that have been served. Love speaks great volumes.

  5. Once when chopped twice when burned and many more times when they smelled mothballs– always great memories of service—reminds me of when we serve others on our trips with Mormon Heritage trips always great memories trhere too !!!

  6. I remembered as a young girl chopping wood with my father to keep us warm at our ranch in the winter. That warmth still lingers in my heart today and the love I felt and is a precious memory of the goals and values my father taught me, especially now that he has passed.

  7. Anytime service is rendered the giver feels his or her heart burn with love and gratitude to be able to do so. Everyone the memory is recalled the warmth is rekindled both by the receiver and the giver of the service. This act of service was both a physical and spiritual gift.

  8. When you follow Christs’ commandment to “love one another” you get the warmth of His spirit.

  9. Willingly and cheerfully giving service always warms the heart of the giver and the receiver. The reminder of the charitable act every time the boy smells the mothballs or chops wood, continues to warm his heart forever after. Sweet story

  10. Every time the boys thought of the service they gave they remembered the warmth of doing something good. Every time the story is told warmth is given over & over again.

  11. Cheerful and willing service is such a blessing to those who receive the service. For the boys who performed this selfless act of service, the memories of that day will stay with them forever. Why? Was it the look of surprise on her face, the glint in her eyes, the smile of gratitude on her face, or the humble thank you. These are the blessings of those who serve others-a memory of love given to another.

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