On the 9th Day of Christmas Past, rekindling history to enhance today’s Light the World – “A man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”
Question: In these short pioneer Christmas histories, how can our attitude change today about possessing an abundance?
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“Christmas In Gentile Valley”
1890’s personal history of Lydia Bennett Egbert, Gentile Valley (Thatcher), Idaho
“What a spectacular sight it would be for today’s generation to look in upon a remote little group as they gathered for their Christmas celebration. Sleigh loads of people, snug in their quilts spread over a bed of hay, pulling into the Church-yard—men unhitching the teams and tying them to feed—women and children trudging through the snow and up the steps into the small one-room meetinghouse. And inside, the hearty hand-clasping and exchanging of greetings around the roaring hot fire. Men in stiff-front shirts and tight-legged trousers, standing comfortably with their backs to the stove and their hands clasped behind them, teetering on their toes and grinning from ear to ear in admiration of their charming females.
Charming to be sure. On that day of all days, when every female was adorned in a new Christmas frock. Women, stiffly corseted, with their long flowing skirts were grouped about chatting merrily. Maidens with bustles and leg-of-mutton sleeves modestly portrayed their most elegant manner in hopes of attracting the gallant gents. Little girls, quaint in their new togs, strutted like peacocks.
By one o’clock long tables, extending full length of the hall, had been set. Everyone feasted to their heart’s content. At two o’clock the old fiddle struck up its favorite, “Turkey In the Straw,” and, unable to resist, many of the oldsters chose partners and joined the children in their rollicking hoe-down.” From: Pioneer Christmas p. 7-8
“Wagon Wheel Stockings”
Mary Jane Perkins Wilson Autobiography Dec 25, 1880 at Hole in the Rock, UT
“It was here in ‘Hole in the Rock’ that we spent our first Christmas holidays. We children had no place only on the wagon wheels to hang our stockings. Nevertheless old St. Nicholas visited us with parched corn and some cookies which were baked in the dutch ovens. However everybody was happy. We spent most of the day gathering sagebrush to build fires at night to dance by. It was not of course on waxed floors, nor wearing various colored pumps, but it was on the sand rocks and some were barefooted. Brother Charles E. Walton was the orchestra. Sometimes he played the violin and other times the cornet.” From: Pioneer Christmas p. 22
1886 from Willow Creek, Idaho
James A Smith and his wife, Annie Sellars Smith, left their home in Utah and settled in Willow Creek, about 12 miles northeast of Idaho Falls, in 1886. Their eight-year-old daughter, Mamie, took a special interest in her younger sister, Clara, and the two played together endlessly. Mamie was heartbroken this Christmas to think that little Clara would not get a doll. The little family was snowbound and their Christmas celebration would consist of homemade candy, apples, a cheerful fire and music.
However, Christmas morning found a little doll, neatly and beautifully dressed in her little sister’s stocking. Mamie had taken a long clothespin from her mother’s peg sack and had spent hours in hemming, folding, dyeing, tieing, painting and padding a doll for Clara so her Christmas cry in the morning would be one of gladness, not of disappointment. Clara Smith DeMott always cherished the memory of her first doll and of the happiness it brought and the never-to-be-forgotten loving sister who made her first doll from a clothespin. From: Treasures of Pioneer History 4:201-2
“Christmas Did Come”
Mary “Mamie” Woolley Chamberlain from Kanab, Utah
“Father had ordered a nice Christmas for all, including toys and trinkets for the little tots, shoes, suits, and overcoats for the older ones, but the snow came and all the mail was unable to get through. This was a great disappointment to father, as he had counted on making all so happy.
In the face of this difficulty, he decided not to be outdone. So, as soon as the children were up, he met us, dressed in a big fur coat, a long white beard made of angora goat hair to represent Santa, a long string of sleigh bells over his shoulders, and stamping his feet and rubbing his hands together before the big pitch fire. He explained to us that the snow was so deep that he had to leave his “pack” but had to come to take us all for a merry sleigh ride. This so delighted us that we did not miss the presents. We all went except Mother who remained to prepare a good Christmas plum pudding which we all enjoyed after the long ride through the frosty air. The breath of the horses froze and formed icicles all around their nostrils, as we drove through the fields and over fence on the crusted snow.
We called on each of our neighbors to wish them good cheer and we considered it one of the very best Christmas days we had ever enjoyed!” From: Pioneer Christmas p. 26-27
“Just like candy”
from 25 December 1916 in Bountiful, Utah
“I remember rushing down Christmas morning racing straight to my bulging stocking hanging from the mantel. As I pulled out an orange and a candycane, I reached far into the toe for the hard, round bulge, and there it was; a can of Eagle Brand milk. On my first Eagle Brand Christmas it was a new taste for me, but ever after I always asked Santa for a can of Eagle Brand milk. Father cut off the lid with the can opener and I was allowed to spoon it out, a little every day. What sweetness! Just like candy! Better than candy! It was so expensive, we could only afford it once a year. It was not Christmas for me now without my can of Eagle Brand milk!” From: Pioneer Christmas 70-71
Treasures of Pioneer History 4:201-2
Pioneer Christmas, p. 7-8; 22; 26-27; 70-71
“Light the World” is a 25 day Christ-like service celebration from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Visit Mormon.org for more information.