Thursday, December 24, 2009

Feeling grateful at Christmastime

I have been a HUGE fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books since first grade, when I read the series (Yes, I was an advanced reader). Even now, at age 33, I still read and re-read the books every year. I love them. They are children's books, but I still enjoy reading them a lot, even though I could probably recite them from memory.

One of my favorite things to do is read the Christmas section in each book. They always make me feel so grateful for what I have. The Ingalls family knew what Christmas was really all about, and they might not have had much but they always made Christmas special with what they had on hand.

I thought I would share a few of my favorite Little House Christmas excerpts, just because. I wanted to read them anyway. I might as well share!


From Little House in the Big Woods

"In the morning they all woke up almost at the same moment. They looked at their stockings, and something was in them. Santa Claus had been there...
In each stocking there was a pair of bright red mittens, and there was a long, flat stick of red-and-white striped peppermint candy, all beautifully notched along each side.
They were all so happy they could hardly speak at first. They just looked with shining eyes at those lovely Christmas presents. But Laura was happiest of all. Laura had a rag doll... The other girls were not jealous because Laura had mittens and candy AND a doll, because Laura was the littlest girl..."


Hmmm... I wonder how many kids today would be so thrilled to just get a pair of mittens and a candy cane and a rag doll for Christmas!


From Little House on the Prairie

"...when Ma opened the door to let in the fresh, cold air, they heard the creek roaring. They had not thought about the creek. Now they knew they would have no Christmas, because Santa Claus could not cross that roaring creek...
Laura and Mary tried not to mind too much... Ma said it was too bad that Santa Clause couldn't come this year, but they were such good girls that he hadn't forgotten them; he would surely come next year...
Ma suddenly stood up. "I'm going to hang your stockings, girls," she said. "Maybe something will happen."
Laura's heart jumped. But then she thought again of the creek and she knew that nothing could happen...
"She sat down again by the fire and Laura almost went to sleep. She woke up a little when she heard Pa say, "You've only made it worse, Caroline." And she thought she heard Ma say: "No, Charles. There's the white sugar." But perhaps she was dreaming...
The door latch rattled and someone said, "Ingalls! Ingalls!"
...She heard Pa piling wood on the fire, and she heard Mr. Edwards say he had carried his clothes on his head when he swam the creek. His teeth rattled and his voice shivered. He would be all right, he said, as soon as he got warm...
"Your little ones had to have a Christmas," Mr. Edwards replied.

(Mr. Edwards told Ma and Pa and the girls that he had met up with Santa Claus in the town of Independence, and that Santa had asked him to give the presents to the girls. Ma then put the gifts in the girls' stockings.)

"Something was shining bright in the top of Laura's stocking... And the shining thing was a glittering new tin cup. Mary had one exactly like it... Now they each had a cup to drink out of... Then they plunged their hands into the stockings again, and they pulled out two long sticks of candy...
Those stockings weren't empty yet. Mary and Laura pulled out two small packages. They unwrapped them and each found a little heart-shaped cake...
Laura and Mary never would have looked in their stockings again. The cups and the cakes and the candy were almost too much. They were too happy to speak. But Ma asked if they were sure the stockings were empty... And in the toe of each stocking was a shining bright new penny!
They had never even thought of such a thing as having a penny. Think of having a whole penny for your very own. Think of having a cup and a cake and a stick of candy AND a penny.
There had never been such a Christmas."


Feeling grateful yet?


In On the Banks of Plum Creek, Pa and Ma ask Laura and Mary if they would wish really hard for Christmas horses. They do, and are surprised to find six pieces of Christmas candy in their stockings in the morning, and two horses in place of the oxen in their stable.

(Can you imagine kids today wishing for, say, a family car instead of just presents for themselves?)

But the whole idea of putting all their Christmas wishes toward one thing for the whole family left Laura and Mary kind of confused about the concept of Santa Claus. I have always loved the way Ma explained it to them. It goes along with what I believe about Santa--that he's the embodiment of the giving spirit of the season:

"The older you are, the more you know about Santa Claus," (Ma) said. "You are so big now, you know he can't be just one man, don't you? You know he is everywhere on Christmas Eve... He comes down all the chimneys at the same time..."

"I guess he is like angels," Mary said, slowly. And Laura could see that, just as well as Mary could.

Then Ma told them something else about Santa Claus. He was everywhere, and besides that, he was all the time. Whenever anyone was unselfish, that was Santa Claus.

Christmas Eve was the time when everybody was unselfish. On that one night, Santa Claus was everywhere, because everybody, all together, stopped being selfish and wanted other people to be happy. And in the morning, you saw what that had done.

"If everybody wanted everybody else to be happy, all the time, then would it be Christmas all the time? Laura asked, and Ma said "Yes, Laura."


If you REALLY want to feel grateful for what you have, then The Long Winter is a great book to read. It tells of the winter of 1880-1881, which had blizzards from October to April with very little rest in between. The town on the prairie in which the Ingalls family lives runs out of food and the train can't get through to bring more. The family lives on little more than coarse, dry sourdough bread for many months, and although it is a very cold and dreary time, they still find many little things to be thankful for. They manage to make Christmas a special day with hardly anything, and the book ends with a joyful Christmas celebration in May, when the train finally gets through with provisions. I like this book so much, I have it on CD so the boys and I can listen to it in the car. I think it has a lot of good messages about being grateful for the simple things you have. Really, there's too much to quote here!


I could keep going on but I think you get the idea. I love the Christmas chapters in all the Little House books. I actually think they made a compilation book of them, and I'd love to get it someday.

Anyway, I just wanted to share one of my favorite things with you!

Here's a few more... My favorite ornaments!

This is a music box. It winds up in the back and plays "Joy to the World." It was my Grandma Anna's, and I LOVED it as a little girl. I would take it and kiss the three little guys. At some point, she gave it to me, which really meant a lot to me. Now Logan loves to wind it up and hear the song.

When I was little, our basement flooded and most of the old ornaments were destroyed, like my first ornament and the things I made in preschool. I do have this one bulb, though. I always thought it was the prettiest one we had. It's plastic, which is probably why it has lasted so long. I always wanted to hang this one when I was little, and I loved to look at it. I still do.

And finally, when Hubby and I were on our honeymoon in Maine, we got to Bar Harbor a little too early to check into the hotel, so we went downtown and walked around a bit. As we passed a shop, we saw this ornament hanging in the front window and stopped in our tracks. It said "Our Bar Harbor Honeymoon" and it was just too perfect to pass up, so we went in and got one and had it personalized.

Sadly, the ornament fell out of my bag about a week and a half later, as we were checking into a hotel in Portland the night before we went home. It broke into a bunch of little pieces. I saved every piece and painstakingly glued it together once we got home. It's not perfect, but we couldn't bear to give up our souvenir. Generally, we don't buy souvenirs on vacations, but this one was special. I always hang it way up at the top of the tree so it doesn't get knocked down. Our tree isn't complete without it!

I hope you have a happy Christmas Eve and a very Merry Christmas!


Christina said...

Awww thanks for sharing that!!! The ornaments are great. I adore the message behind your post too. Peter & I are doing something similar with Santa. I knew I wanted to do Santa for the excitement for M but his family doesn't do it bec they don't like it taking away from Jesus. So we compromised with the same mindset of Santa being someone who shows the example of Jesus' love by giving to all. Tonight we're having a happy bday Jesus party too after the Christmas Eve church service. It's so nice to be able to enjoy the season for what is truly important. Then you can never be disappointed like people may be for not getting the "right" gift. So thanks for posting such a beautiful message and I hope you have a wonderful Christmas. Give those boys hugs for me! :)

lizzie said...

Thanks for posting that. You almost made me cry. I needed to be reminded of those wonderful passages. I hope my baby is feeling better. Love you all!