On the 9th Day Christmas Past, Christmas away from loved ones.
Question: What special plans did the Moody Family make for Christmas while their Father was away?
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Mother’s Homemade Christmas
“It snowed! It snowed!” shouted my sister. We jumped out of bed and ran to the window. Snow was rare in our little town of Thatcher, in southern Arizona, and on that Christmas morning in 1908, our excitement knew no bounds.
Awakened by our chatter, Mother joined us. Together we stared at the beautiful sight, knowing that we would remember it for a long time. The full moon sat low in the west. Only a few clouds remained from the night’s storm that had clothed the earth in a beautiful white robe for Christmas.
“You know,” Mother said, “I think Heavenly Father knew that Santa wasn’t coming to our house this Christmas, and he sent the snow to make this day special.”
Each of us knew in our hearts that Mother was right. Our father, known to all of Thatcher as Bishop Moody, was far across the Pacific Ocean serving as a mission president. Of course, we had wanted to go with him, but because of the lack of schools, the primitive conditions, and the heat, our parents had decided that we should remain in Thatcher.
This was our first Christmas without Father. In order not to let his absence cast gloom on our holiday, we had planned a very special Christmas just by ourselves. Not even Santa would be a part of our celebration. For weeks, secrets, whispering, and sometimes a “Don’t you dare open my dresser drawer” had permeated the house as we had made gifts for each other.
Since a Christmas tree was out of the question, Mother had designated a special chair for each of us where our gifts would be placed. Accordingly, on Christmas Eve we each decorated our chair with strings of popcorn, paper chains, bright red bells, and other homemade decorations.
On Christmas morning, Mother shooed us back into our beds while she made the fire and tended the babies. She told us to stay there until she called, but we eventually climbed out of bed, got dressed, and waited.
What a sight met our eyes when Mother finally called us to come downstairs to the parlor! The chairs were arranged in a semicircle around our high-topped parlor organ and were loaded with exciting gifts and packages. Mother had placed a beautiful star on each chair with a name on it: Mama, Hazel, Ruth, Delia, Flora, Mabel, and Rupert.
Mother must have worked for months. She had crocheted a cap and mittens with a matching scarf for each daughter, had renewed our last year’s doll and made it a new dress, and had even made each of the girls a rag doll with a painted face and yarn hair and a few baubles for baby Rupert. Somehow she had also managed to budget enough money to include an orange and a bag of candy and nuts for each of us. Along with Mother’s gifts, we had the simple gifts we had made for each other. Christmas had never been lovelier!
We were so excited playing, trying on, and comparing that only with great reluctance did we leave our gifts when Mother called for family prayer. As usual, we began with a song. Mother sat at the organ, which she pumped with her feet, and we crowded around her. Our young voices sang out “Away in a Manger,” followed by “Silent Night.” Then Mother read the Christmas story to us from our big family Bible. She was a wonderful reader, and we could almost see the shepherds abiding in the field, the babe lying in the manger, and the angel. Then, as was our custom, we knelt around the organ stool, each placing our hand in the center of the stool, one hand on top of another. Mother thanked Heavenly Father for the peace and happiness that abounded in our home, for Christ’s birth, and for the love we shared. She prayed for Father and, as usual, ended with the words, “and bring him home in due time in safety.” There were tears in our eyes as we arose.
After a warm breakfast of cereal with sugar and rich cream from our own cows, we went outside to play in the snow, wearing our new crocheted wraps. It was truly an inspiring Christmas, and all because of the courage, determination, and ingenuity of a dedicated mother.
Taken from: Ensign Dec 1989 by Ruth Ostegar