Sun Dec 14 HERITAGE CHOIR CHRISTMAS CONCERT
Mon Dec 15 COLOR COUNTRY CHORUS
Tue Dec 16 DIXIE HIGH SCHOOL MADRIGALSv
Wed Dec 17 KEYNOTES
Thu Dec 18 6pm HURRICANE MIDDLE SCHOOL CHOIR
Thu Dec 18 HURRICANE HIGH SCHOOL CHOIR
Fri Dec 19 ROCK‘N’ HORSE BAND Christmas variety
Sat Dec 20 LIETO VOICES Christmas Concert
Sun Dec 21 VC MISSIONARY FIRESIDE Christmas choir, instrumentals
Mon Dec 22 SANTA CLARA FRIENDS
Tue Dec 23 MASTER SINGERS Men’s Chorus
Wed Dec 24 CHRISTMAS CONGREGATIONACommunity singing
Fri Dec 26 CATHLEEN & BOB BRIGGS & FRIENDS Vocal and instrumental
Sat Dec 27 GRACE NOTESWomen’s Choral
Sun Dec 28 ANJEANETTE LEISHMAN violin
Mon Dec 29 CATHERINE MCCALLISTER Piano recital
Tue Dec 30 CAROLYN MURSET vocal
Four Christmas Stories
ST. GEORGE UTAH’S FIRST CHRISTMAS 1861
In May of 1861, in general conference in Salt Lake City, Brigham Young announced that during a tour of the Santa Clara and Tonoquint settlements he had a vision of a city “with spires, towers, and steeples, with homes containing many inhabitants….: The new city was to be called St. George. A number of stalwarts, proficient in every occupation, were called on a mission to make this vision a reality. (More➤)
It was in the 1950’s, the week before Christmas and cold. But it wasn’t the frigid night that erased the warmth of the Christmas spirit and caused me to linger after the troop meeting. (More➤)
WILL ST. GEORGE EVER HAVE A WHITE CHRISTMAS?
Christmas Day 1942, Fireman 1st Class, Dick Werner sat down to Christmas dinner aboard the destroyer, USS Macomb in the Atlantic Ocean somewhere between Casablanca and the Azores. The only thing different about this day was a turkey dinner with all the trimmings and the songs White Christmas (which Dick heard for the first time) and The White Cliffs of Dover being played over the loud speakers in the mess deck — no Christmas decorations, packages, or letters. December 25 was just another day in the endless days of convoy and sub-patrol duty for Dick and his follow crew members. Later, if the rough Atlantic would calm a little, he could take a break with his buddies, and sit on the fantail and dream about home and a White Christmas. (More➤)
Yes, It is that time of year again. The “Black Friday” charade creeping into Thanksgiving. Scrooge would not be happy with what has become of us. It is the season of “getting” and not “giving”. (More➤)
In May of 1861, in general conference in Salt Lake City, Brigham Young announced that during a tour of the Santa Clara and Tonoquint settlements he had a vision of a city “with spires, towers, and steeples, with homes containing many inhabitants….: The new city was to be called St. George. A number of stalwarts, proficient in every occupation, were called on a mission to make this vision a reality.
Newly-built homes in Salt Lake City were sold, wagons were loaded with necessities, and the people began the six-week trek southward over unmarked roads.
The first wagon, driven by Robert Thompson and William Faucett, arrived November 1. By December 4, the main body of 378 men and 370 women arrived. They set up camp in the adobe yard (where Dixie College is located today). The weather was mild, and they went to work to get some crops in. Food was scarce and there were no trees to provide shelter or fuel.
The leader, Erastus Snow of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, decided the people must have some break in their back-breaking labor. Christmas was at hand and that seemed an ideal time for celebration. It would give the people something to prepare for, participate in, and talk about for the rest of the year.
Elder Snow had a tent big enough for the entire group to gather for a service. Afterwards the fiddle could play, and they would dance until dawn on the salt grass floor.
A drizzling rain began on Christmas Eve, but Snow decided to go ahead with the plan. The wagon boxes they were using as homes offered less protection than the big tent. Snow had a special Christmas treat for everyone. A man managed to get down from Pine Valley with a big sack of potatoes. These would be roasted in the coals of the community fire and given to each person as they entered the tent. They would serve as hand-warmers and later as a special Christmas meal.
As the group assembled, the drizzle changed into a downpour. The performers increased their volume, and the audience huddle together for warmth, as the rain increased.
After the benediction, Snow informed the people they could go on with the dance or return to their wagons. There really wasn’t much choice. The wagons were covered with canvas, but waterproofing was unheard of. Even their bedding was soaked. Drizzles were seeping through the roof of the big tent. They decided to stay and dance. They would have company and maybe they could move fast enough to keep warm.
And dance they did. Mothers put their babies to sleep on the benches that lined the walls, but the majority of the camp danced on until midnight. They stopped to give the fiddler a rest and to eat their potatoes.
But the fiddler found he had literally sawed through the strings of his fiddle, and he had no replacements. An old lady had one treasure – a spool of silk thread. As a member of a handcart company, she walked across the plains with this thread in her waist apron. She was saving it for some special occasion. She decided nothing was more special than giving joy to these young people who had so little. The fiddler managed to contrive an acceptable substitute from the thread, and the dancing continued until dawn.
This was the beginning of the famous 40-day-and-night rain that changed the Virgin River from a trickle in a small ditch into a rampaging river.
But people did not remember the damp discomfort of wet clothes, bedding, inadequate shelter, and scarce food. They spoke of it as the best Christmas because of feeling of unity and the love that was there.
– by Mary Phoenix
An annual Christmas Good Turn results in a Lifelong Return.
It was in the 1950’s, the week before Christmas and cold. But it wasn’t the frigid night that erased the warmth of the Christmas spirit and caused me to linger after the troop meeting.
The troop had just finished its traditional Christmas “Good Turn.” My patrol had been assigned to help an elderly Norwegian couple, the Bergs, in the neighborhood. We had shoveled snow and scraped ice from the wooden porch, knocked down giant icicles hanging from the roof eaves, and cleared a path to the street, around the house, and past the back door out to the shed. Inside the house we’d left a basket of bread, pies, and cakes made by our mothers.
“What’s wrong, Carl?” my Scoutmaster asked.
I hesitated, not knowing how to answer.
He persisted: “Somebody goof off at the Bergs?”
“No, it’s just that it wasn’t what I thought it would be.”
“What did you expect?”
“I don’t know…it seemed kinda phony. Everybody knows about it…the old folks looked embarrassed. I don’t think we helped that much. It was more for us than them. It was a service project, not a ‘Good Turn.’”
“If you’re not satisfied, Carl,” the Scoutmaster challenged, “then you need to fix it. Go back by yourself and see what you can do to help them, and don’t tell anyone about it, not even me.”
It was the middle of January when I remembered that conversation, as I passed the Berg’s house on my way home from school. I stopped and knocked on the door. When Gertrude, the wife, opened the door, I stammered, “Is there any way I can help you?”
She thanked me for offering but said, “I don’t t’ink we got a t’ing needs done.” Rolf, the husband, having heard the conversation, came to my rescue. “He could put a da big pot up,” he suggested.
I entered and followed Rolf to the kitchen. I stood on a stool and put a canning kettle on the top shelf of the pantry. I realized how hard it must be for them to get things up and down, a simple need that I could do so easily.
“What else do you need moved?” I offered.
That broke the ice. For the next several hours I was busy and surprised at how many things had to go up and what had to come down. I wiped and dusted high corners, carried empty fruit canning bottles down the steep stairs to the cellar, and brought bottles full of preserved peaches, pears, and raspberries back up. We laughed and joked about the back and forth, the up and down.
“I’m your official reacher, lifter, and mover,” I joked. Together we had a good time, Gertrude, Rolf, and I.
The next day I stopped again. Gertrude was the only o ne home. “Rolf don’t want to bother you….but he has a hard time now breaking up da coal,” she said. “Out in a da shed there be some bags of coal. He started on one. If you could finish it? I don’t t’ink he’d mind.”
In the cold shed I fond six gunny sacks with chunks of coal a little larger than a loaf of bread. I grabbed the old hatchet and with the hammer end quickly shattered the coal from the sack Rolf had started into fist-size bits. Proud of my youthful energy, I then finished off the other five sacks.
The next day the Bergs were waiting for me. “No vork today,” Rolf shouted from the porch as he waved for me to come in. The round, lace-covered, dining room table was set for three. In the center on a silver tray were thin, diamond-shaped, cake-like cookies. The house smelled of fresh baking.
“Fattigmann’s Bakkels,” Gertrude announced leading me to a chair. “We make ‘em for holidays.”
“We call dem poor man’s cookies,” Rolf equipped with pride, “cause after you bought everding dat in dem, you a poor man.”
They were scrumptious. Then the Bergs brought out and showed me their photo albums of family and Norway. They and their family had all escaped just before the beginning of the Second World War.
In the following weeks and months Gertrude and Rolf became a part of the routine of my life. When I came to visit I didn’t have to knock anymore. I walked right in, just like family. Rolf had said, “We too slow. You come right in when you get ‘ere.
On through junior high and high school, I mowed the Berg’s lawn, cleared the snow, helped irrigate the small garden and fruit trees. I must have eaten dozens of Fattigmann’s Bakkels and reached, lifted, and moved hundreds of things.
Their home was another place I could go, a good place to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon, an evening when nothing was planned, a place to stop on my way somewhere. It was a warm place, a place to talk, and oh, how we talked, about everything.
Then I had to leave for the Army and our letters replaced talk. Of course, on every Christmas I received a package of Fattigmann’s Bakkels.
Rolf died while I was away, but when I returned I resumed the ole routine. Gertrude kept forgetting and would still set three places at the table, so we made it a tradition, always to include Rolf.
When my financee and I send wedding invitations we made sure one went addressed to both Rolf and Gertrude Berg. On the day of the wedding Gertrude walked a mile alone, in the rain, up the hill to the church. She carried a handmade rag rug and a fox of Fattigmann’s Bakkels as presents. In the box, written on a card was her recipe. It was the last batch of cookies she made. She died several months later.
Until now I had done as my Scoutmaster suggested. I had not told anyone, not my parents, my wife, or my kids about the Bergs because I felt it might spoil what only I knew.
The Bergs are gone now; the house they lived in is gone, too. But I still have the recipe for Fattigmann’s Bakkels and the warm remembrance of a good time, good friends, a good thing in my life, and a “Good Turn.”
Beat egg yokes and sugar, add cream; than, salt, egg whites and almond
extract. Mix thoroughly. Cut in crushed cardamon seeds with enough sifted four to roll out very thin (must not be stiff). Cut into diamond shapes and deep fry in hot vegetable oil to golden brown. Sprinkle with powered sugar.
While they are cooling do a “Good Turn”; and enjoy a warm Christmas.
Christmas Day 1942, Fireman 1st Class, Dick Werner sat down to Christmas dinner aboard the destroyer, USS Macomb in the Atlantic Ocean somewhere between Casablanca and the Azores. The only thing different about this day was a turkey dinner with all the trimmings and the songs White Christmas (which Dick heard for the first time) and The White Cliffs of Dover being played over the loud speakers in the mess deck — no Christmas decorations, packages, or letters. December 25 was just another day in the endless days of convoy and sub-patrol duty for Dick and his follow crew members. Later, if the rough Atlantic would calm a little, he could take a break with his buddies, and sit on the fantail and dream about home and a White Christmas.
Thirty-eight days earlier the Macomb’s sister ship the USS Hambleton was torpedoed by German Subs while tied up at the dock in Casablanca next to the USS Macomb. The Macomb immediately cut her mores and raced for the open sea remaining under radio silence for three days and returning only to refuel before heading for the Azores.
So, nerves were on edge and Bing Crosby crooning White Christmas on the new Decca 78 record playing over the loud speakers gave Dick a moment of peace as he remembered the white Christmases of his past back home in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His family gathering around the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve reading the Christmas story and Grandpa Johnson playing Santa.
On this same Christmas day in 1942, Bobbie Novaria, a girl Dick met just before leaving for basic training, was playing White Christmas on the piano in her home in Albuquerque. Bobbie played by ear and heard the song several months earlier at the local USO where she went every Wednesday and Saturday to dance with the boys from Kirtland Airbase. Bobbie kept writing Dick for two more “whiteless” Christmases. He spent more time at sea in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans then on land. When Dick finally arrived in San Francisco at the end of the war, he sent Bobbie a telegram, which read:
I’M SENDING YOU 100 DOLLARS TO COME TO SAN FRANCISCO TO GET MARRIED STOP IF YOU DON’T COME RETURN THE HUNDRED DOLLARS STOP
And six children and forty white Christmases later, in 1985 Dick & Bobbie Warner left white Christmases behind and moved to St. George. A move they have never regretted.
According to Don Jensen at the Utah Climate Center at Utah State University, in the past 110 years that records have been kept, St. George had only one white Christmas. That was in 1916 when one-and-one-half inches of snow fell on Christmas day. The high for the day was 54 degrees and the low was 20 degrees, when the front went through. Which means that we have less that a one percent chance of a white Christmas.
Sixty years ago, Irving Berlin wrote White Christmas for the 1942 movie Holiday Inn and on Christmas day 1941 Bing Crosby introduced it to the nation on his NBC radio show the Kraft Music Hall. Bing recorded it with the John Scott Trotter Orchestra for Decca on May 29th. Holiday Inn was released in August 1942. By the end of the war it was the best selling single of that time and it hit the top-30 pop charts another 16 times. White Christmas is still Bing Crosby’s best selling recording and the best-selling Christmas single of all-time.
When Bing sang White Christmas for the troops on his many USO tours it brought tears to the eyes of the soldiers. On his returned from a tour of the European Theater in the fall of 1944, Bing talked on his October 12th Kraft Music Hall radio show about singing White Christmas to the troops overseas and said:
“The song that was most apropos for me over there was White Christmas. It really got so that I hesitated about doing it because invariably it caused such a nostalgic yearning among the men that it made them sad. And heaven knows I didn’t come that far to make them sad. And for this reason several times I tried to cut it out of the show. But, these guys just hollered for it — but you can’t know and yet—you must know that, (singing) They’re dreaming of a White Christmas. Just like the ones they use to know…”
Bing’s single went on to sell more then 30 million copies worldwide and White Christmas remained the best selling single of all time in all music categories until 1998 when Elton John’s tribute to Princess Diana, Candle in the Wind, passed it.
In 1942 when Dick was chasing U-Boats in the Atlantic, the majority of Americans lived in the northeaster states and a white Christmas was the experience of the vast majority of Americans. However, after the war an overall population shift, from the northeast to the south and west took place and the “Sunbelt” was born. The warm climate and more efficient air conditioning units for both homes and automobiles created large retirement communities. This shift is boosted every winter by the annual migration of Sunbirds to places like St. George all across the country.
This Christmas when Dick and Bobbie Werner sit down for Christmas dinner, they like the rest of us here in St. George, plus, a good share of the rest of the population can only dream of a white Christmas. If this trend continues, we will soon be the majority, and Santa my have to shave his beard, get a pair of Bermuda shorts and leave the presents next to the air conditioner on the patio.
Originally published as Guest Editorial in The Spectrum, St. George, Utah, on December 25, 2002.
Yes, It is that time of year again. The “Black Friday” charade creeping into Thanksgiving. Scrooge would not be happy with what has become of us. It is the season of “getting” and not “giving”.
In 1992 I received a book for Christmas from my mother with the following written on the inside cover.
Dear Carl, Blanche and family,
I guess your wondering why I’m giving you this book. I’ll explain. When I was in elementary school and living in Hinckley, Utah. My third or forth grade teacher read this book to us, and oh, how I loved it. It was a very popular book.
The following year, before Christmas, my brother John, sister Ruth and I told our parents we wanted this book for Christmas. One day my sister saw it in the window of the little country store and went in and told the clerk to save it and our father would come in and pay for it. It was the last one they had – cost $1.00.
On Christmas morning there it was. We all wanted to read it first. We had to take turns. (This book has been out of print for many years).
Two weeks ago we received an advertisement from Desert Book, listing all the new books, and “The White Indian Boy” was one of them. It had been re-printed. I bought a copy and while reading it, decided to give a copy to each of my children. I thought you might enjoy reading the book that I loved so much when I was young—and even now.
It is an an interesting story that is true. Your children would enjoy it too.
We love you and wish you the best each day.
This was their Christmas present for that year, plus: the traditional orange, some nuts and hardtack candy, and a new homemade dress for the girls and new overalls for brother John.
What are you giving this year?
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