Christmas in Pioneer America
By Laura Ingalls Wilder
Life on the prairie in the middle of December was an uneasy time. Repeatedly barraged by thundering blizzards and savagely frigid winds, the pioneers looked forward to any chance to forget their hard everyday life and focus on a holiday.
Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote eloquently about life for the pioneers. Yet, none of her writings are as eloquent as the passages devoted to the Christmas holidays. In "Little House in the Big Woods," Laura relates the preparations for Christmas. "Ma was busy all day long, cooking good things for Christmas. She baked salt-rising bread and 'Injun bread,' Swedish crackers, and a huge pan of baked beans, with salt pork and molasses. She baked vinegar pies and dried-apple pies, and filled a big jar with cookies, and she let Laura and Mary lick the cake spoon.
"One morning she boiled molasses and sugar together until they made the thick syrup, and Pa brought in two pans of clean, white snow from the outdoors. Laura and Mary each had a pan, and Pa and Ma showed them how to pour the dark syrup in little streams onto the snow. "They made circles, and curlicues, and squiggledy things, and these hardened at once and were candy." That was the year that Laura was truly blessed...Santa brought her a doll of her very own, Charlotte.
In "Little House on the Prairie," Laura tells the story of how Christmas almost missed the Ingalls family...but was saved by the strength of Pa and the devotion of family friend Mr. Edwards. Despite the rainy wet December, Mr. Edwards managed to walk all the way to Independence, where he met Santa, who sent Laura and Mary's gifts with him. "These new tin cups were their very own. Now they each had a cup to drink out of. Laura jumped up and down and shouted and laughed, but Mary stood still and looked with shining eyes at her own tin cup. Then they plunged their hands in to the stockings again. And they pulled out two long, long sticks of candy. It was peppermint candy, striped red and white. They looked and looked at that beautiful candy, and Laura licked her stick, just one lick. But Mary was not so greedy. She didn't take even one lick of her stick."
"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. Over their delicate brown tops was sprinkled white sugar. The sparkling grains lay like tiny drifts of snow." But that wasn't all...at the bottom of each of their stockings was a bright, shiny, new penny. Mr. Edwards had forged a raging, flooding creek to bring the girls their Christmas, and was rewarded by two of the happiest girls on the prairie.
Whether it was a few things Ma and Pa managed to provide for
their family of girls or some offerings from the church barrel, the best
Christmas present of all was the family being together...loving one another and
holding the thought of those joyous Christmas' in their hearts as they faced
DiskUs Publishing™ provided a good portion of this text.
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