Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Mormon Battalion Christmas Feast

Mormon Battalion

Mormon Battalion member, Henry Bigler and diarist, mentions that his mess in the Battalion feasted on what on Christmas Day 1846?

a.      Government rations

b.      Watermelon

c.       Snared Jack rabbits

d.      Antelope

Yesterday’s answer:

(D)   Mosquito netting

In the past years Santa Claus had been a regular visitor, but the children were expressing fears at the possibility of his not finding them in faraway Cardston. Thus Aunt Zina Card called a meeting of the mothers; no children were allowed. Other secret meetings followed.

   There were seventy-two people in the village that first year. The adults and older children were busy during the secret meetings. The women worked with piece bags, needles, thread, and thimbles; the men took hammers and saws and odd pieces of board to work with; the older girls unraveled old knit stockings, and the girls also made candy.

   Two new babies born a week before Christmas were remembered amid all the Christmas plans as cradles were hewn from logs and rocking chairs were made for the new mothers.

   Every man, woman, and child received a gift. There were rag dolls, doll beds, hobby horses, doll cradles, balls, aprons, pincushions, cookies, and homemade candy. Christmas stockings were made of mosquito netting. Gifts were also received from loved ones in Utah. Quilts were made for the little beds and cradles. Every gift was well made and elaborately embroidered, stitched, or painted.

   A beautiful tree was brought from the hills and decorated with homemade trimmings of colored paper chains and strings of popcorn.

   In the evening O.L. Robinson played the mouth organ and the young people danced in Aunt Zina’s dining room. Earlier in her home, the children had had their tree, gifts, and celebration.

   Even though they were all far away from loved ones and the means for gifts were limited, a joyful feeling was in the hearts of the Canadian pioneers. They felt the peace that freedom from persecution can bring. They felt this was a good land where permanent homes might well be thought of instead of considering it a stopping-off place until peace should come elsewhere. The new log houses, now eleven in number, attested to this. They gave thanks to God for his many blessings.

Chronicles of Courage, comp. by Lesson Committee (Salt Lake City: Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1992), 3:357-8.

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