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How did Joseph Smith celebrate Christmas? What did John Taylor say about the pioneers’ first Christmas in the Salt Lake Valley? What was the heartening message that George Albert Smith included on his 1945 Christmas cards? Christmas with the Prophets provides glimpses into the individual Christmas celebrations of each President of the Church, with recurring themes of missionary efforts, Church work, family, and service. Some of the vignettes are personal, others soul-stirring, poignant, and tender. Often their experiences and messages reflect the world conditions at that time and serve as little snapshots of history.
In this Christmas keepsake, illustrated throughout with historical photographs, paintings, and drawings, each story of a Christmas past is a testimony of the Messiah, borne by one of His special witnesses.
Table of Contents:
A Christmas Baby
An Entirely Satisfactory Season
Christmas in the Temple Prison
Joseph's Last Christmas
A Message from Joseph Smith
Christmas in the Nauvoo temple
"The Keys Are Right Here"
Kicking His Troubles Off His Toes
"Every Latter-day Saint in All the World"
A Message from Brigham Young
Christmas at Sea
Christmas in Nauvoo
First Christmas in the Valley
For the Gospel's Sake
A Message from John Taylor
Christmas in the Kirtland Temple
"A Regular Christmas Holiday"
"Christmas Day in London"
Christmas in the St. George Temple
A Message from Wilford Woodruff
Log Cabin Theater
Christmas in France
Into the Pit
Testimony of the Living Christ
A Message from Lorenzo Snow
JOSEPH F. SMITH
Christmas as a Young Father
Remembering the Prophet Joseph Smith
Christmas in Vermont
A message from Joseph F. Smith
HEBER J. GRANT
Book for Christmas
Money for Christmas
Building the Salt Lake Temple
Waiting at the Gates of the Temple
"Chatter, Chatter, Chatter"
A Message from Heber J. Grant
GEORGE ALBERT SMITH
Tour Guide for Christmas
A Special Christmas Card
At Home for Christmas
A Message from George Albert Smith
DAVID O. MCKAY
Christmas on the Old Family Farm
Christmas in Tokyo
The Old Chickering
Christmas Is for Children
A Christmas Surprise
A Message from David O. McKay
JOSEPH FIELDING SMITH
Christmas under the Table
Music at Christmas
A Wonderful Christmas Present
Through the Eyes of a Grandchild
His Favorite Scripture
A Message from Joseph Fielding Smith
HAROLD B. LEE
Christmas Is for Everyone
Christmas Dolls to Give Away
"His Kind of People"
One Last Christmas Day
A Message from Harold B. Lee
SPENCER W. KIMBALL
"No Thought of Home, Hardly"
A Birthday Gift for the Savior
Primary Children's Hospital
Traditions with Camilla
A Message from Spencer W. Kimball
EZRA TAFT BENSON
Christmas in Whitney, Idaho
"A Choice Evening"
Home for Christmas
Christmas with President Eisenhower
A Favorite Christmas Story
A Message from Ezra Taft Benson
HOWARD W. HUNTER
"Everything Good There Was"
Christmas in the Holy Land
The Best Gifts
A Message from Howard W. Hunter
GORDON B. HINCKLEY
Gifts of the Hands and the Heart
"never Look Back"
Worldwide Christmas Devotional
The Gift of Scripture
A Message from Gordon B. Hinckley
THOMAS S. MONSON
When Giving Replaced Getting
"What Does Turkey Taste Like?"
A Home for Christmas
Remembering the Widows
A Message from Thomas S. Monson
List of Illustrations
- Size: 7x9
- Pages: 160
- Published: 2010
About the Author
Laura Fayone Willes, a Salt Lake City native, holds a degree in American Studies from the University of Minnesota. She has published two previous books, Minnesota Mormons and Community of Faith. Laura has been an early-morning seminary teacher, Gospel Doctrine teacher, and stake Relief Society president, and she served a full-time mission with her husband, Mark, as he presided over the Hawaii Honolulu Mission. She and her husband are the parents of five children and live in Utah.
First Christmas in the Valley
It was Christmas 1847. Two companies of pioneers comprising several hundred people had reached the Salt Lake Valley. Except for a few plowed fields and an enclosure of rough cabins, tents, and wagons on the Old Fort (now Pioneer Park), wilderness surrounded them. Their leader, Brigham Young, and some of his associates had returned to Iowa that fall to help organize more wagon trains to make the two-thousand-mile trek the following spring. Brigham Young left John Taylor and several others in charge of the encamped Saints in the Salt Lake Valley.
That year Christmas Day fell on a Saturday. The day in the valley started early in the morning with the roar of cannon fire, heralding the arrival of a special holiday. Fortunately the winter thus far had been mild. Some snow had fallen earlier, but it had almost disappeared. Clumps of green grass were to be seen along the banks of the Jordan River to the west of the encampment.
Despite the cannon’s roar, there was little time for celebration during the day, except for shouted wishes of “Merry Christmas” as people went about their work. Because it was Saturday, not Sunday, the pioneers carried on with their daily routine. Every minute counted. The men plowed fields, taking advantage of the winter thaw. Everyone was living on rations, so no extra cooking was done.
Christmas dinner that evening was boiled wild rabbit and a little bread, but the pioneers had enough and felt that they had never had a happier Christmas in the sense of peace and good will. After dinner there was dancing to lighten the spirits of this little group, which was so isolated from the other members of the Church to the east.
The next day, Sunday, was a time to rejoice. The Saints gathered around the flagpole that afternoon for a special service. “What a meeting it was. We sang praises to God, we all joined in the opening prayer, and the speaking that day has always been remembered. There were worlds of thanksgiving and cheer. Not a despairing word was uttered. The people were hopeful and buoyant because of their faith in the great work they were undertaking.”
After the meeting there was enthusiastic hand shaking all around, and “some wept with joy.” The children played in the enclosure, and everyone gathered around a large sagebrush fire for singing as the stars came out. At the end of the evening everyone joined in singing “Come, Come, Ye Saints,” and beautiful heartfelt strains floated over the assembly. It had been a joyous Christmas filled with love of the Savior and deep gratitude for preservation and safety.
For many years the hymn “Come, Come, Ye Saints” was traditionally sung at pioneer Christmas celebrations and programs. Some children even grew up with the idea that is was a Christmas carol.
A Great Book!
by Customer - reviewed on November 17, 2010
I was surprised by how good this book was. It has the most wonderful Christmas stories about how each of the Latter-day prophets celebrated Christmas. This is perfect for our family tradition of reading Christmas stories to the kids each night leading up to Christmas!
A Wonderfully Beautiful Book!!!!
by Teri - reviewed on December 05, 2010
This wonderfully written and heartwarming collection of Christmas vignettes by all sixteen of Our beloved Prophets is a must for every Latter-day Saint library. Each chapter is devoted to little vignettes in each prophet's life during Christmas. Joseph Smith's Christmas of 1838 was being incarcerated in Liberty Jail that had a ceiling so low, the few men couldn't even stand. Brigham Young doing Temple Ordinances all day on Christmas 1845, shows how much he cared for his people. John Taylor spent a Christmas hiding with members and one mother made him a pair of socks. Wilford Woodruff spent Christmas Day 1836 in the Kirtland Temple, which was common in those early days. Lorenzo Snow staged a play in his small log cabin on Christmas Day while in Mt. Pisgah in 1846. Joseph F. Smith, son of Hyrum Smith, felt so bad one Christmas because he couldn't afford even a dollar for his family, sobbed, then realized that his love for his family is the best Christmas gift he could give. Heber J.Grant, a man after my heart, loved to give books as Christmas gifts. George Albert Smith learned whenhe was quite ill how very important tithing was, so that Christmas became a "Tithing Christmas." David O. McKay spent one Christmas talking to some Japanese members, esp children, who sang "Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam." Joseph Fielding Smith's fond Christmas was when one of hisd daughters, fearful of being caught coming down the stairs to see what Santa had left, hid underneath a table in the den while he kept reading. Harold B. Lee spotted a young boy walking in the snow without much in the way of clothes and helped this boy's family to have a good Christmas. Spencer W. Kimball started giving fifty dollars to a special member in need. Ezra Taft Benson loved to go into the canyon to cut their family tree and he had to find one that would reach the ceiling. Howard W. Hunter spent one Christmas as a boy going "Hookeybobbing" with his sister, fixing a sail to his "pushmobile." Gordon B. Hinckley made a make-shift chimney out of wood, as they didn't have a fireplace when he was growing up. Pres. Thomas S. Monson has always remembered the widows during the Christmas season, and started visiting each one in his ward when he was bishop. At the end of each vignette, each prophet leaves a special message to stay close to the Savior, as He is the Reason For the Season. I absolutely love the cover of this special book on our beloved prophets. Published by: Deseret Books Date Published: November 2010 ISBN: 978-1-60641-825-4 191pp I received this review copy from Deseret Books. -- Posted By Forever Friends to LDS Forever Friends Book Nook at 12/04/2010 11:56:00 PM
by Stephanie - reviewed on December 12, 2011
Using recurrent themes of work, family & service we can read about the Prophets Christmas traditions of the times in an often tender and poignant way. Some stories are humorous while others leave us contrite...yet each story leaves us with a personal testimony of Christs divinity and the true Spirit of Christmas. This book will quickly become a keepsake! We have really enjoyed reading about each prophet. There is a strong spirit this time of year that allows us to feel tender-hearted. I feel like I have gotten to know each prophet on a personal level...seeing many of them for the first time as children. This would make a wonderful Christmas Gift!
The perfect gift book for anyone on your list
by Rachelle - reviewed on November 28, 2011
This book is absolutely gorgeous--a perfect gift book. The pages are thick, glossy, and filled with beautiful photographs. I love how Laura F. Willes built the format for this book. It studies each prophet of our church giving details on their life including Christmas traditions, childhood Christmas memories, favorite Christmases they celebrated, and a message from each prophet. As you read the book, you'll be filled with the true spirit of Christmas, love for our Savior, and a desire to emulate these fine men who enjoyed celebrating this wonderful Christmas season.
Best Christmas Book Ever!
by Manolo - reviewed on November 27, 2010
I've read this book several times--it's my holiday favorite. We read a story each night in December (after scriptures and prayers) leading up to Christmas Eve. My favorite story is about Joseph Smith dressing up as Santa Claus and delivering popcorn balls and candy canes to the kids in Nauvoo. Then afterwards, he joined the other saints for a barn dance at Heber C. Kimball's place, followed by a stick pull contest.
Well researched, beautifully written
by Angie - reviewed on November 25, 2010
This book has been a huge hit in our home. The author found wonderful stories that make the prophets of the Latter-Days real to my and my children. So glad we found this book.
The book is filled with stories that inspire, teach, and remind us of the joys of a simple life.
by susan - reviewed on December 02, 2010
David O. McKay wrote: “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.” [These were] “memories that no money could buy.” I enjoyed the account of his pulling children and grandchildren on a yearly sleigh ride through Huntsville. It is accompanied by a photograph of President McKay standing in the wagon, dressed in his long raccoon coat, and the sleds behind. There is the story of President Kimball passing on a gift of $50 that was entrusted to him with the plea, “Will you place this money where it will please the Redeemer most?” When Elder Taylor set out for his mission to England, he spent four months working his way to New York City. There he and his companion were taken in by Elder Parley P. Pratt “who was temporarily in the city to arrange for some publishing for the Church.” “Elder Taylor didn’t say anything about his lack of funds. Instead, whenever anyone asked about his financial situation, he would reply, ‘I have plenty of money!’” Elder Pratt approached him for a contribution to the publishing. “Elder Taylor replied, ‘You are welcome to all I have.’ He put his hand in his pocket, pulled out a one-cent coin, and gave it to Elder Pratt. Surprised, Elder Pratt reminded Elder Taylor that he had claimed to have plenty of money. Elder Taylor said it was true. He explained that he had clothes on his back, was provided with excellent food in Elder Pratt’s home, and ‘with all these things and a penny over, as I owe nothing, is not that plenty?’” This is a book has wonderful illustrations, thick glossy pages, testimonies, and a framed picture of each prophet. But it is the messages that make it a treasure. In 1994, in his last address, President Hunter said, “Brothers and Sisters. . .as followers of the Master, we desire to draw closer to Him as we remember during this season His wondrous birth two millennia ago. . . .We should strive to give as He gave. To give of oneself is a holy gift. We give as a remembrance of all the Savior has given. . . .Mend a quarrel. Seek out a forgotten friend. Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a letter. Give a soft answer. Encourage youth. Manifest your loyalty in word and deed. Keep a promise. Forgo a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Apologize. Try to understand. Examine your demands on others. Think first of someone else. Be kind. Be gentle. Laugh a little more. Express your gratitude. Welcome a stranger. Gladden the heart of a child Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth. Speak your love then speak it again.” “Christmas is a celebration, and there is no celebration that compares with the realization of it’s true meaning.”
by Melinda - reviewed on November 18, 2010
This book is simply beautiful. Beautiful illustrations; beautiful stories; and a beautiful message. These stories are great to share with family of all ages. Perfect gift!