Wednesday, November 20, 2013

In the Good Old-fashioned Way

As the holidays get closer, I'm noticing more friends on Facebook reporting that they are stressing out.

I mostly blame it on this woman.

I'd like to offer some advice courtesy of my second great-grandmother Sally. 

After she married Peter Olson, they left Paragonah, Utah in 1882 and moved to a new community, Price, Utah.  When they first arrived they didn't have a home so they lived in a covered wagon,

later they would find enough lumber to build a shack.

Which they would live in for 7 years.

Nowadays, Paragonah and Price aren't too far away. 

According to Google it takes 3 hours and 51 minutes by car.

But back then, it took three weeks.  This was too long of a trip just to spend Christmas together.  So she had to stay in this new town and spend it without her family. 

She reports that she felt "lonesome and homesick for it was drawing near to Christmas time, and this place was so very different than the southern part of the state."

She said she was determined to be happy and find an enjoyable way to spend Christmas.

Up the river about a mile, lived the Simmons family.  The wife, Lydia, had a way of always making Sally feel welcome.  Lydia invited the Olsens to spend Christmas with them.

They arrived at the Simmons' home at 10:00 a.m.  The women worked to prepare dinner.

And the men watched football...

Just kidding, Sally doesn't say what the men were doing.

She did say the table was set in the same manner as today (meaning 1931 when she wrote this) but the dinner wasn't served in courses. 

The table was set in family style meaning everyone could help themselves.  She said the first helping was bullberry jam.

I can't find what bullberry jam is.  I think she might have meant mulberry jam. 

The dinner consisted of roast turkey

creamed potatoes


 jam and jellies

creamed carrots


apple pie

pumpkin pie


and cake

 Are wondering what I'm wondering?  What did the jams and jellies go on if there weren't any rolls?

She said that after dinner, which was around 1:00 p.m.,  the table was cleared, the dishes washed and put away, and the rest of the afternoon was spent

telling experiences, stories and singing.

That night they returned to their wagon with happy hearts.  Sally ends her story with some advice that I think we could still use today.

"This old world is full of HAPPINESS if the people would only try to find and enjoy the day IN THE GOOD OLD-FASHIONED WAY."

Before the holidays kick into full gear, now would be a good time to ask ourselves, what can we do so that everyone will leave our homes with happy hearts?

Years ago I realized that the holidays were stressing me out to the point where I was no longer looking forward to them. 

So I started eliminating things that didn't bring me joy.

As all my traditions fell by the wayside, I realized two things stayed constant.  Time with family and service.  Now my holiday traditions must accomplish one or both--or we don't do them.

This year I'm not making a Thanksgiving dinner, instead we are going to Thanksgiving Point to "Eat Like a Pilgrim."

 Last year for Christmas we didn't put up a tree or any decorations; I bought no presents for the kids.  (Feel free to call child protective services.)  Instead we stayed five days at a cabin in Midway, Utah and went snowmobiling and ice skating. 

I am not recommedning you do the same--take down your tree and forgo roasting a turkey and Christmas shopping.  But whatever you decide to do, make sure you can agree with my 2nd great-grandmother Sally who said,

"We knew that there was no one who had spent a happier Christmas."

And she was living in a covered wagon!

Note: Sally's story can be found on page 56 in the book titled Pioneer Pathways Volume Four published in 2001 by the International Society Daughter of Utah Pioneers.

This post features:

Sally Ann Barton Olsen

my second great grandmother

me-->Ruth Rasmussen Buchanan-->Arthur Price Rasmussen-->Mary Jane Olsen Rasmussen-->Sally Ann Barton Olsen

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