Question: How can we be more easily pleased and satisfied like a pioneer child?
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The Plum Pudding
By Annie C. Kimball
William Wagstaff was a successful gardener in his Bedfordshire home where he joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and set out with his wife and 7 children to unite with the main body of church in America.
The vessel, James Pennell, docked at New Orleans in the autumn of 1850 and the immigrants proceeded up the Mississippi by steamboat to St. Louis. Little 2 1/2 year old Rachel died on the way and was buried at a refueling depot on the river shore. The rest of the family reached St. Louis near the last of November.
About 2 weeks after the arrival, Mary Gilby Wagstaff died of pneumonia and William found himself in unanticipated trouble. Isaac and James were in their teens, but the only girl, Mary, was merely 11; nevertheless she tried to do the cooking, cleaning, and mending the best she could. It was December, the children’s month. Even in bereavement and sorrow the thoughts and reminders of approaching Christmas stirred remembrances of former happiness and anticipation expressed itself in the eager questioning of childhood.
“We can’t do much for Christmas,” William replied to the anxious requests, feeling so alone and helpless.
“Maybe we can at least have plum pudding,” suggested thirteen-year-old James.
“I’ll try to make it,” from Mary.
“Who remembers how mother used to do it?” the father asked.
Then each offered suggestions. Isaac, the eldest, knew it contained suet because he was the one trusted to chop it with the large sharp knife; six-year-old Jacob remembered raisins and how his mother had slipped one to him occasionally when she was cleaning them; father suggested tiny dried store currants and peel for this since there were no raisins to be found. Mary knew about flour and about boiling the pudding, all tied up in a piece of clean white cloth.
William felt that the project was a real undertaking and, as ingredients were anything but cheap, he must move with caution. When the momentous day arrived, he decided that he, himself, must perform the important feat. So, with all eyes upon him, and everyone helping who was large enough, the pudding was made, with “dip.” Then all sat down to a Christmas Day feast. Poured over the treasure was a tiny measure of brandy that burned with a glowing blue flame when the lighted match was applied. What a thrilling fairyland sight! What a wonderful pudding! Only the soul-sick, lonely man knew that it did not taste like those of the past – children are so easily pleased and satisfied.
Most of the Christmas whirlwind is created by extra, unnecessary & unimportant things piled on by adults. How can we focus more like these children did on the simple more important parts?
Kate B. Carter, Tresures of Pioneer History, vol 1, p. 107