What did “Jingle Bells” mean to Pres. Ezra Taft Benson?
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“I love Christmas time and I find great joy in remembering Christmases past. Perhaps it is the emotion of the season that makes this time of year seem particularly poignant and meaningful. Especially memorable of many events, almost nine decades of Christmases, dating back to my childhood on the Whitney, Idaho farm where I was reared. They are still clear in my mind and among some of the most enjoyable memories I have.
As a boy I loved going to the canyon to cut our Christmas tree and I always tried to get one that reached to the ceiling. Though we received only a few gifts, our stockings were filled with fruit nuts and candy and Santa always left something. Like all children we suffered terrible anticipation at Christmas time. I remember wondering if father and mother must be hiding our gifts somewhere on the farm. I couldn’t stifle my inquisitive mind and in no time I’d led my young brothers on a search that turned up several gifts buried in the wheat in the granary.
I’m told that I was a bit of a tease during my youth. I do remember coming in on my sister, Margaret, while she was balancing on a stepladder to decorate the tree. Sensing an opportunity to tease her, I feigned danger by giving the ladder a little shake. Margaret, who was not amused ordered me out of the room and then tossed in my direction a dustpan that caught me on the lip. I still have a scar to remember that little prank by.
One of my favorite winter and especially holiday activities was taking out the big two horse bobsleigh with bells on the horses. In those days Jingle Bells was not only a song it was a thrilling experience. There’s nothing quite like riding through country lanes with the sleigh box filled with straw and a group of friends singing Christmas carols. In more recent decades my wife Flora and I have made many happy Christmas trips to visit family in Calgary Alberta, Canada. The highlight of each visit is a ride in a horse drawn cutter or bobsleigh. It’s exhilarating to get hold of the lines of a good team drawing a bobsleigh or two seat cutter and ride out into the Canadian open.
In Whitney on Christmas Day our family visited our grandparents and we almost always traveled to their homes by bobsleigh. These were such happy occasions our grandparents were very musical and always provided entertainment of various kinds. There were recitations, skits, original poems, music, and dancing. Grandma Dunkley a convert to the church from Scotland would dance the Highland Fling for us and we loved that!”
Don’t you wish to go on an exhilarating Jingle Bells sleigh ride?! What is your most cherished Christmas time activity?
Larry C Porter, Remembering Christmas Past, BYU Studies 40, no 3, p. 103-104