Monday, December 24, 2012

In Shepherds' Fields

I was one of the narrators at our branch Christmas service yesterday.  Part of my script included a touching story.  The branch music director who wrote the program and assembled all the music and performers told me to just mention the source, which at the time was only noted as Ensign 2008.  I did a little investigating and discovered that it was written by our branch music director herself.  She rolled her eyes at me like a teenager when I went against her orders and gave the name of the author, and was proud to do so.  The story and the program were perfect for our little flock.  Just wanted to share her story.

In Shepherds’ Field

By Annie Tintle,  Ensign December 2008

While attending Brigham Young University, I studied in Jerusalem with approximately 170 students during the fall of 1998. As the Christmas season approached, we began to focus our studies and field trips around the birth of the Savior.

Luke 2:8-20
"The Announcement 
of Christ's Birth to the 
by Del Parsons

It was cool and windy the evening that 40 of us pulled up to our last and most anticipated stop for the day. Tradition held that Shepherds’ Field, located just outside of Bethlehem, was the place where the ancient shepherds sat watching sheep on the night of the Savior’s birth, never anticipating what would soon be proclaimed to them.

The field was nothing like I had imagined. I saw a terraced hill with hardly any greenery. We walked down a rocky path, and each of us found a quiet place to sit and write in our journals. I finally found a large rock to sit on. It was cold, uncomfortable, and surrounded by thorns.

When we were told we would be able to see the local shepherds and their sheep, I wasn’t prepared to see children in rags. But even though they were dressed in worn, secondhand clothing, their eyes were bright. Open-palmed, they approached our group’s chaperone. After asking the children their names, she gave each one a few shekels. One of the children carried a newborn lamb. He approached me and offered to let me hold it.

Luke 2:8-14
"The Angel Appears
to the Shepherds,
'Good Tidings of Great Joy'"
by Walter Rane
I took the warm baby lamb in my arms, I began to see the situation differently.

The Savior knew about the life of a shepherd. He knew about the cold nights, rocky trails, and danger of thieves and predators. He knew shepherds sometimes held the baby lambs in their arms, standing watch while waiting for the darkness to pass.

While the Wise Men were able to bring the Christ
child gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, the shepherds could offer little in the way of material gifts. Their sacrifice was simply in coming to offer humble hearts and joyful spirits in partaking in the celebration of their infant Lord.

The Savior has brought the gift of joy to our cold and dreary world. He has promised to stand watch through the long, dark night, despite the terrors and hardships this life can bring. He knows us, His sheep. He is our Shepherd.

That night I began to understand the promise in the gift of our Savior.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving History

Most stories of Thanksgiving history start with the harvest celebration of the pilgrims and the Native Americans that took place in the autumn of 1621. Although they did have a three-day feast in celebration of a good harvest, and the local natives did participate, this "first thanksgiving" was not a holiday, simply a gathering. There is little evidence that this feast of thanks led directly to our modern Thanksgiving Day holiday. Thanksgiving can, however, be traced back to 1863 when Pres. Lincoln became the first president to proclaim Thanksgiving Day. The holiday has been a fixture of late November ever since. However, since most school children are taught that the first Thanksgiving was held in 1621 with the Pilgrims and Indians, let us take a closer look at just what took place leading up to that event, and then what happened in the centuries afterward that finally gave us our modern Thanksgiving.

The Pilgrims who sailed to this country aboard the Mayflower were originally members of the English Separatist Church (a Puritan sect). They had earlier fled their home in England and sailed to Holland (The Netherlands) to escape religious persecution. There, they enjoyed more religious tolerance, but they eventually became disenchanted with the Dutch way of life, thinking it ungodly. Seeking a better life, the Separatists negotiated with a London stock company to finance a pilgrimage to America. Most of those making the trip aboard the Mayflower were non-Separatists, but were hired to protect the company's interests. Only about one-third of the original colonists were Separatists.
The Pilgrims set ground at Plymouth Rock on December 11, 1620. Their first winter was devastating. At the beginning of the following fall, they had lost 46 of the original 102 who sailed on the Mayflower. But the harvest of 1621 was a bountiful one. And the remaining colonists decided to celebrate with a feast - including 91 natives who had helped the Pilgrims survive their first year. It is believed that the Pilgrims would not have made it through the year without the help of the natives. The feast was more of a traditional English harvest festival than a true "thanksgiving" observance. It lasted three days.

Governor William Bradford sent "four men fowling" after wild ducks and geese. It is not certain that wild turkey was part of their feast. However, it is certain that they had venison. The term "turkey" was used by the Pilgrims to mean any sort of wild fowl.
Another modern staple at almost every Thanksgiving table is pumpkin pie. But it is unlikely that the first feast included that treat. The supply of flour had been long diminished, so there was no bread or pastries of any kind. However, they did eat boiled pumpkin, and they produced a type of fried bread from their corn crop. There was also no milk, cider, potatoes, or butter. There was no domestic cattle for dairy products, and the newly-discovered potato was still considered by many Europeans to be poisonous. But the feast did include fish, berries, watercress, lobster, dried fruit, clams, venison, and plums.

This "thanksgiving" feast was not repeated the following year. Many years passed before the event was repeated. It wasn't until June of 1676 that another Day of thanksgiving was proclaimed. On June 20 of that year the governing council of Charlestown, Massachusetts, held a meeting to determine how best to express thanks for the good fortune that had seen their community securely established. By unanimous vote they instructed Edward Rawson, the clerk, to proclaim June 29 as a day of thanksgiving. It is notable that this thanksgiving celebration probably did not include Native Americans, as the celebration was meant partly to be in recognition of the colonists' recent victory over the "heathen natives," (see the proclamation). By then, it had become apparent to the settlers that the natives were a hindrance to their quest for more land, so the good will they shared at the first feast had long been lost. A hundred years later, in October of 1777 all 13 colonies joined in a thanksgiving celebration. It also commemorated the patriotic victory over the British at Saratoga. But it was a one-time affair.
George Washington proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving in 1789, although some were opposed to it. There was discord among the colonies, many feeling the hardships of a few pilgrims did not warrant a national holiday. And later, President Thomas Jefferson opposed the idea of having a day of thanksgiving.

It was Sarah Josepha Hale, a magazine editor, whose efforts eventually led to what we recognize as Thanksgiving. Hale wrote many editorials championing her cause in her Boston Ladies' Magazine, and later, in Godey's Lady's Book. Finally, after a 40-year campaign of writing editorials and letters to governors and presidents, Hale's obsession became a reality when, in 1863, President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a national day of Thanksgiving. was proclaimed by every president after Lincoln. The date was changed a couple of times, most recently by Franklin Roosevelt, who set it up one week to the next-to-last Thursday in order to create a longer Christmas shopping season. Public uproar against this decision caused the president to move Thanksgiving back to its original date two years later. And in 1941, Thanksgiving was finally sanctioned by Congress as a legal holiday, as the fourth Thursday in November.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Five Days of Our Anniversary

On the first day of our anniversary, my DH gave to me flowers and a lovely, sentimental card.

On the second day of our anniversary, my DH gave to me a creamer for my collection, and a lovely, sentimental card.

On the third day of our anniversary, my DH gave to me more flowers for my collection and a lovely, sentimental card.

Isn't he just the best?


Just so's you don't think I've been too awfully idle lately, here are my latest projects.

 Laundry Basket - This was actually easier than I thought it was going to be.  Harder on the hands, but a pretty easy weave once it got going.  The inside is rather rough, which is where the rough part of the construction is supposed to be.  With time I'm sure even my rough stuff won't be so harsh.  Meanwhile, since this is a laundry basket, I think I'll have to line it so it doesn't snag the clothes.  Either that or relegate it to the garden.

Weed Basket - These were some of my first little projects.  They've just been hanging around my house so long I forgot to include them in the photographs.  They hold my... er... weeds.  You know, the parts of your flower arrangements that never die?

Potato Basket - This basket uses the same technique as an egg or melon basket only on a larger scale.  

Peach Basket - This one is actually a re-do.  I wasn't happy with the dye job on the first one (see below), or the weaving, or the shape, or the finish.....  so much wrong with the first one.  The blue looks better, my weaving is more even, but I still see lots of room for improvement.

And then there are the blankets.  

In July we got our very first grandgirl, Casey.  This pink and hearts was for her.  It looks good with the Cabbage Patch Kids in the antique baby bed, but now is at home in Casey's nursery, which is purple.  It works.

In November we got our fourth grandboy.  this time I tried knitting and for a first attempt it turned out pretty good.