9th Day Christmas Past Question & Story

Posted by on Dec 20, 2017 in Christmas Past 2017 | 20 comments

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

“Clothespin Doll”

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

Taken from:

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.

    20 Comments

  1. These early members lived in times of harsh conditions. However they made the best of what they had. Their inspiration was always God. They lived their life according to his law and to be like him. Today we are afforded much more comforts in our life. I believe a lot of us gets distracted by this and often lose sight of our true purpose here to become like God and to help those around us and teach our families the same.

  2. For Christmas to be the best day ever, it doesn’t need to be all the piles of gifts. No snow storm or lack of money stop these pioneers and so we think of our own Christmas and how simple some of the gifts were that we remember most. It’s just a special time of year where happiness abounds if we can slow down and see it.

  3. I have always loved reading stories about simple Christmas’s and how others loved the day even though there were only a few simple gifts. I learned to cherish the orange and 50 cent piece my own grandfather gave us for Christmas because of these stories.

  4. I have always loved reading stories about simple Christmas’s and how others loved the Christmas for the spirit of it. I learned to cherish the orange and 50 cent piece my own grandfather gave us for Christmas because of these stories.

  5. If we can just let go of the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping, what a difference in attitude it would make. Do we really have to buy an expensive gift for each of our loved ones? I say no. When did this abundance of gift giving even start, I wonder? If we center our hearts on Christ and family, I believe our attitude can change from an abundance of material gifts to an abundance of love and family time.

  6. Having everything we want doesn’t always make a happy Christmas. It is about making the best with what you have. We need to do whatever we need to make it the most meaningful ever. It is the memories.

  7. I loved these stories. Christmas doesn’t have to mean tons of presents under the tree. It is the feeling we get inside as we serve our family, it is also just being with our loved ones. We need to learn that we can do with less and just enjoy our families.

  8. If we have love, kindness, goodwill and music, then we truly have the important things in abundance at Christmastime.

  9. These stories all have a few things in common. They didn’t have lot and they had to physically work hard to have what they had. But they were all happy. They also lived in simpler times, when it didn’t take much to ohh and ahhh us. We need to remember that and step back from TV, Movies, Facebook, the News. We can take from these stories, remembering that those who came before, had less and were happy. We can remember to count our blessing, even for the silliest or simple things.

  10. These stories remind that abundance comes in many forms. Like being able to go to school, passing a class, getting the grade I wanted. Being able to have special food. And even though I have once or twice a year and could have them more often, it helps me remember why I savor them. When I possess an abundance, I need to make sure my neighbors are taken care. It doesn’t have to be with food or money. It could be with my time or abilities.

  11. The simplicities of life give us the greatest joy. The dancing in Hole in the Rock, after working all day finding sagebrush. The can of Eagle Brand Milk which tasted like candy. The sleighride, even without presents brought joy, because “Santa” took them! When you don’t have much, the little things can make us happy. I do believe that we need to be so very thankful for what we have. I treasure my family the most at Christmas.

  12. Our attitude about abundance can change when we find joy in simple & eternal things. I love how these stories highlighted the ways in which family members would put forth effort to show an abundance of love & thoughtfulness.

  13. Abundance isn’t in the amount of stuff we own but in how we live our life and in the relationships we have with our family and friends. A person’s worth is only measured by the real love and care they show towards one another.

  14. It is not all the “stuff” that brings joy at Christmas, it is the sharing with others–activities, simple food and giving a portion of our time and talents. The pioneers simply did what they could. One of our favorite Christmas trees was the one we made when the children were little. We couldn’t afford a tree and so gathered large tumbleweeds from the field near our home. We piled them up and sprayed them white. We used yarn and Q-tips to make mexican-style ornaments. We will always remember the Tumbleweed Christmas Tree year fondly.

  15. In each of these stories the emphasis is on people being together and sharing what they could to make others happy. The message to me is that we will have a happy Christmas if all we have to share is our love for each other.

  16. Happiness is a choice. We can choose to be grateful for what we have, and make the best of any situation. If we cannot find happiness without “stuff”, we will never be truly happy with it.

  17. I needed these little stories so much today! I stayed up until past 3 o’clock in the morning a couple of nights ago wrapping gifts for all of my six kids. Upon finishing and happily thinking for once I wouldn’t have to complete the daunting task on Christmas Eve this year, I began counting the gifts and realized to my dismay that two of my kids only had two gifts while the rest had three apiece. My husband and I decided a few years back that each of our kids would receive a gift from Santa, a gift from mom and dad, and in a sibling exchange, one gift from one of the other siblings for a total of three gifts from us. Usually we get one or two other small trinkets to go along with that but even with the smaller number of gifts we give, it still looks like a lot under the tree due to all of our kids. Every year we try to keep Christmas as simple as we can. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in every events- between parties, school events, neighbor events, cards, shopping and all- it’s easy to lose the feeling of the peace of the season. I was feeling guilty tonight thinking of the various things we didn’t end up doing this year (we didn’t get Christmas cards out this year, the nativities didn’t go up, we weren’t able to get Christmas lights on our house, we just had so much going on… ). Then my 13-year-old came up to me and told me he thought this is going to be one of the best Christmases ever because my husband will be home for both Christmas Eve as Christmas Day. It made it much easier to change my attitude of feeling bad for not being able to do it all to be happy for what we could do and being grateful that will be all together on the actual day. That’s what matters, it’s the time with your family that counts. I am looking forward to what this Christmas will bring 🙂

  18. These beautiful stories made me realize that simple things as gifts and the importance of families being together enjoying happy times are more important that the “abundance” of things that we all expect in today’s society. I am going to share these stories with my grandchildren.

  19. In all of these stories, it seems to me that these pioneer people did have an abundance; maybe not what we would call abundance today as far as wordly things, but they had an abundance of love, friendship, thoughtfulness and unselfishness.

  20. Abundance is not measured by how much money we have in the bank or the square footage of our home. To me, abundance is the peace and security the Gospel brings in to my life and the life of my family.

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