Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

How has our family celebrated Christmas over the years? It has been a time for celebration, and also a time for starting journeys.

James Glade, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1870s-80s

He spent long hours at his baker’s bench, often 12 hours a day. He always had good work. He and his wives were industrious. They had a good home life.

For special occasions like Christmas, James baked fancy cakes and candies when sugar was $1.00 a pound. The nuts had to be shelled and raisins and fruit cleaned. The family sat at the table working and whistling to keep the children from eating the nuts and fruit.

Ove C. Oveson, Ephraim, Utah, December 1865

This Month not much of Ennyting, I workt in Town. and tended Mitings as before Chrismas Day the Soldier Celbrated with musick and Drums & fifeyrs and Shuting to Honnor the Captain.

John Tanner and family, Lake George, New York, and Kirtland, Ohio, December 1834-January 1835

On Christmas day he commenced his journey, a distance of 500 miles, with all his earthly effects and in the dead of winter. He reached Kirtland about the 20th day of January 1835. On his arrival there, he learned that at the time he received the impression that he must move immediately to the body of the Church, the Prophet Joseph Smith and some of the other brethren met in prayer meeting and asked the Lord to send them a brother or some brethren with means to assist them in lifting the mortgage on the farm upon which the temple was then building. ... [Description of amounts loaned and given to the work.]... His open-heartedness was a very striking proof of his confidence in the Prophet and in the validity and importance of the work he had embraced.

George and Ann Jarvis, Woolwich and London, England, December 1848

While here he met Lorenzo Snow and Franklin D. Richards, Elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He went home that night and told his wife what he had heard—That an Angel had appeared to Joseph Smith and that the Church had been organized as it was anciently, and now Missionaries were visiting the people, being sent out as the Apostles of Christ were.

Ann listened intently to all he told her and then said “George, it’s True.” They were both baptized by Ira Bradshaw on Christmas 1848, in the Thames river.

Beverly Wessman, Salt Lake City, Utah, December 1942

Grandmother Green and May her daughter were waiting for a bus to go to the Layton family to see their Christmas. John Wessman was a friend of theirs in the 20th ward. He drove by and asked where he could take them. So he took them to the Layton home on Christmas day 1942. The Lucile and Lester Glade family was there as they always got together on Christmas morning to see each others presents and have breakfast together. John was invited in and met the families. He then took May and Grandmother to the Glade home. As I was showing off my Christmas I'd steal a glance at that good looking John and wish I could date him.

John Wessman, Salt Lake City or Ogden, Utah, December 1929

When I was twelve years old, I received for Christmas a small, 12-bass accordion, along with my brother Paul. He didn't enjoy it, but I learned the technique of playing it; after considerable practicing, I became accomplished with it and Wilford Kapp, a friend of mine in the same grades at the Burch Creek School, also acquired one and started to learn it. We both became able to play together, and soon joined a couple of other boys in the school to make a small orchestra; one was Jack Solomon who played the piano, and the other was Jack Everett who played drums. We become known throughout the county and were called on to perform on programs, occasionally being called to play for dances.

James and Mary Hamilton, Paisley, Scotland, mid-1800s

Christmas was celebrated with the same customs as here. Stockings were hung up, but the exchange of gifts was reserved for New Years Day.

Shortly after the New Year had been heralded in, visiting one’s friends was next in order. It would have been very absurd to have gone to a home empty handed, the usual packing being: a man, a bottle of wine; the woman, a cake of shortbread. It was considered lucky to have a dark-complected and favored person first to cross the threshold....

Elizabeth Hayward and her parents Philip and Martha Pugsley, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1850s

At Christmas time a common gift was an apple and a homemade doll.

Sarah Hayward, San Diego, California, December 1900

My Dear Harry & Lizzie

They have all gone out to the ranch; Sarah, Frances, Libbie, Ernest & the two boys so there’s a jolly crowd of them, so I preferred to stay at home and write a few letters to those who have so kindly remembered me. I thank you both for your good wishes and Christmas gifts and wish you a happy and prosperous new year. We have been having it very cold the past 3 weeks but it is warmer now and to day it is beautifull [sic], we spent Christmas at the ranch had a sucking pig, plumb pudding & ec. [sic] had a pleasant time would liked to have had more of my family with us but that could not be so we made the best of it.

Jessie Morgan, St. Johns, Arizona, early 1900s

We would hang up our stockings and my brothers would hang up their pants. They would tie the legs at the bottom. They got a .22 Rifle once. The card said that it was to both boys. We owned a half of a block in town and down below was just the alfalfa and over to the side was the corral and then the wood pile and then the house....

Dad said he was going to go out and show the boys how to shoot by the poplar trees. So he told them to do just as Daddy did. They went out in the poplar trees and he was going to show them the gun and how to handle it. Just as he shot, the old milk cow, Bossy, walked out. She fell down and all her legs went up in the air and she was dead. The neighbor across the street came over and they skinned the cow and brought into the house a big chunk of meat and my mother said they could just take it out because she wasn’t going to cook old Bossy.

The photos "Christmas 1946," "Christmas 1944," and "Ann at Christmas 1947" are from my parents' collections.


  1. Thanks for the memories and Merry Christmas, sorry we can't be there.

  2. Thanks! These are wonderful. I love, love, love the first Christmas card!

  3. These are great little stories. Thanks for putting them together and posting them.

  4. Thanks for sharing these stories. We used them for Family Home Evening tonight.