(To be entered into today’s daily giveaway & FREE tour drawing, Comment & Share your thoughts on Facebook or our blog of story below.)
Memories of Childhood Christmases
Christmas on a winter’s day in 1938, President McKay second counselor to George Albert Smith returned to the old family home of his youth in Huntsville Utah. Iit had been unoccupied for some time and he was there to check on the place. As he puttered about the house with its familiar trappings, he began to muse on the innocent laughter and excited merriment of the children and their friends at Christmas seasons of long ago. Moved by his impressions of the moment, he wrote a special letter of endearment dated December 12 to his brother Thomas E McKay who was then presiding over the Swiss Mission.
“My Dear Brother and Playmate Thomas E,
I went to Huntsville the other day and visited the old home. It was a typical wintery day so you can easily imagine how cold the rooms were in which no fires were burning and in which none had been for weeks. The house was just like a large refrigerator. There were a few things which I wanted to do so I threw your old coonskin coat over my shoulders and soon felt warm and comfortable. For a few moments I strolled leisurely from room to room and being in a reminiscent mood I let my mind wander at will down the lanes of memory. I saw ”Tommy” and “Dadie” [Thomas E and David] go up stairs to bed, and felt the tender touch of the dearest, sweetest mother that ever lived as she tenderly tucked the bedclothes around her two roguish boys and gave them goodnight kisses.
Again it was Christmas Eve. Our stockings having been hung where Santa couldn’t help but see them, we lay half expecting to hear the jingle of the sleigh bells announcing the approach of good old st nick to the chimney top – sleep came tardily, but finally the sandman succeed in
closing our eyes.
Christmas morning. I can see those boys creeping down the stairs before daybreak – no electric switch to press and flood the room with light; no flashlight at hand. They didn’t even light the old kerosene lamp. Step by step they groped their way in the dark, and sought the nail (or chair) on which each had hung respectively his empty stocking. Who can ever forget the thrill of that first touch of the stocking filled with Santa’s treasures! Apple in the toe, sticks of red and white candy protruding from the top, and trinkets and presents hidden in between! Perhaps a trumpet stuck out with the candies; but the drum and sled were standing near by.
The air in the room was cold even though the last embers in the kitchen were still smoldering- evidence if the boys had stopped to think that father and mother had sat up late enough to welcome St Nick to our house.
Soon the girls were awake also, and the lamp was lit – then the “oh’s” and the “ah’s,” and the medley of sounds of drums, jewsharp, harmonica, and music box!
As the sun came smiling over those snow-capped mountains, he turned the frost into diamonds that sparkled from the leafless trees and seemed to dance on the twelve-inch blanket of pure white snow. Then came the playmates with their merry cry “Christmas Gift.” In the afternoon the children’s dance! (One of those boys danced with a sweet little girl eleven successive times!) Oh the romance of childhood!
Chores – evening shadows, supper and bed, and another Christmas was gone. Why, to childhood, is Christmas Day so short and the next far away?
Christmas again, anticipated by the trip up South Fork to get our own Christmas tree from the hillside. They were older then, those boys, but their stockings still were hung and good old Santa never failed to fill them…
Later came school and missions, yet still the tender ties that radiated from a devoted father and loving mother ever pulled us back to the Old Home, the dearest, sweetest spot on earth.
It is only an old country home, but no place was ever filled with truer love and devotion on the part of parents, brothers, and sisters, than those which pervaded the hearts of the loved ones in that family circle.
Hanging your coat in its accustomed place, I walked out of the front door; as the night-latch clicked, I thought it might have been the click of the lid of a treasure chest that held the wealth of memories that no money could buy.
Well, my brother and pal of youthful days, I just wanted you to share with me this glimpse of happy memories, and to say as the Yuletide now approaches, my heart is full of loving wishes to you, that you and yours may enjoy the happiest Christmas ever, and that the New Year may come laden with happiness and joy supreme.
Challenge: Open your own treasure chest, holding a wealth of memories. Share it with someone else involved & see if they remember it too!
Taken from: Larry C. Porter, “Remembering Christmas Past Presidents of the Church Celebrate the Birth of the Son of Man and Remember His Servant Joseph Smith”, p. 37-39.