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“A Pioneer Christmas”
In the year 1860, three little girls lived in a pioneer home, the daughters of Mary Ann Stearns Winters. This home had but one room with a big fireplace and a loft where the children slept. The loft was reached by a ladder. It was Christmas eve. Delia was six years old; Gusta, four and the baby, Susie almost two. It was the first time the little girls had ever heard about Christmas and there was great excitement in this humble home. It was difficult for the children to go to bed that Christmas Eve, but finally they were persuaded to do so. Up the ladder they climbed.
Father, mother and grandmother were excited too. More love than anything else was put into the preparations for there was little to go into the home made stockings. Father had whittled dresses for each doll. These were brought out and put in a conspicuous place. For the first time since leaving their comfortable home in the East, some molasses had been obtained. With this precious ingredient, the mother made a molasses cake and best of all, on the father’s last trip to Salt Lake City, he had brought home some lump sugar. There were new little stockings and bright wool dresses hung before the fireplace. The wool had been carded, spun and woven by the grandmother. Finally everything was ready. The little home was spic and span and the fire had burned low.
In the early dawn, Gusta opened her eyes, then she awakened her sisters. It was Christmas morning and surely Santa had been there. They began to dress when a shout came from below. “The first one down gets a prize!” What a hurry and a scramble. Delia reached the ladder first and started down with Gusta nearly on top of her. Then came little Susie crying because the bigger girls had pushed her aside and started down first. Then she pushed and screamed and in her struggles half way down the ladder, she lost her balance and down through the ladder she went and landed on the hard bare floor below. It looked at that moment as if the carefully planned Christmas was spoiled.
Father picked up the baby. “Well, well,” he said, “It looks as if little Susie beat all of you. She was the first down and she gets the prize. The tears changed to smiles like magic. The prize was a lump of sugar – the first the children had ever seen. While Susie sucked the sugar, the other girls were just as happy. They were delighted that Susie could beat them down the ladder even if she did make it in one step. As they went to bed that night Delia said, “I wish it was Christmas every day, even if Susie did get the prize.”
These three little girls became the wives of: Delia, Judge John E. Booth, Provo City, UT; Gusta, Pres. Heber J. Grant, SLC, UT; and Susie, Heber Bennion, Taylorsville, UT.
What firsts could you try to fill your Christmas preparations with more love?
Kate B. Carter, Treasures of Pioneer History – p. 182-183 “A Pioneer Christmas” from Elinor Brockbank Brimhall