A Scout is Cheerful.A Scout looks for the bright side of life. He cheerfully does tasks that come his way. He tries to make others happy.
Father loved children very much and made our home entertainments and holidays just as delightful as the facilities of the day would permit. The Christmas celebrations of my childhood hold memories that are especially dear to me. No one in the entire household was ever forgotten, and this meant providing Christmas cheer for a great many people when one included the help and pensioners on the estate as well as the family.
Simple as our celebrations were, our elders were fond of reminding us how very much more fortunate we were than the children of two decades earlier when a good square meal was ample cause for celebrating any day in the year. The first Christmas in the valley—so we were told—everyone worked as usual. The men gathered sagebrush and some of them even plowed, for there was little snow and the ground was still soft. Christmas came on Saturday, but Saturday being a workday not even Christmas could interfere with the usual labors, and so the celebration was held on the Sabbath. Nearly everyone was still living in the old fort, and they all gathered around the flagpole in the center of the square, sang, prayed, shook hands, and joined around a sagebrush fire. They were completely filled with joy that their lives had been preserved in the great trek and that they had found a home where they might enjoy peace. They asked for nothing more.
Within the short space of three years the population of the city had increased to thousands, and the Christmas celebration took on a still greater air of gaiety. A brass band paraded up and down the streets, with the players mounted on horseback. They serenaded at Father’s house as well as the homes of other Church leaders. All the toys were home made, the ads in the paper carrying no mention of commercial playthings. However, if a husband wished to delight his wife with a new bonnet on Christmas morning, there was Mrs. A. Smith, “Late of St. Louis,” who advertised a superior assortment of velvet, silk, satin, and straw bonnets, and a variety of fancy goods and millinery.
President Brigham Young loved to dance. “Besides my own problems, I have the whole people’s burdens and I get rid of them by kicking them off my toes.” Dancing, which was held in the Social Hall in Salt Lake City, was also an important part of all early pioneer Christmas celebrations. In 1849, President Young held a large Christmas party and sent out invitations. Everyone expected there would be dancing. Susan Wells and her sister made dresses from the fabric wagon cover that had protected their family during the journey to the Salt Lake Valley. The Christmas dance would become the most popular dance of the entire year.
“I well remember Brother Brigham’s Christmas party of 1849. Like the girls of today, on receiving my invitation the first thought was “nothing to wear.” This was literally true, as all our clothing was shabby and patched.
Necessity is the mother of invention, so, after careful consideration, the wagon cover that had done such a faithful service during our journey across the plains, was brought out. We couldn’t afford canvas and our cover consisted of several thicknesses of unbleached factory cloth. This was carefully dyed and as good luck would have it, it turned out a very pretty brown.
We made this into dresses for myself and sister, trimmed with silk from an old cape of mother’s. This cape, black, lined with light brown, not only furnished trimming for our dresses, but I made poke bonnets from the black with quilting lining of the light brown. I had embroidered buckskin mocassins with ravellings from a piece of silk, but I believe for this occasion father, who was a shoemaker, made me a pair of slippers from his old boot legs. I tell you my first ball dress was stunning!”
Author: Susan Wells | Juvenile Instructor, December 1918