Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog

Advent: The Christmas Pinata

By: Ardis E. Parshall - December 13, 2014

From the Children’s Friend, December 1960 –

The Christmas Pinata

By D.P. Barnhouse

When the sun dipped behind the western edge of the Sierras, Juan drove the goats down into the valley. Lupe, the white goat, wore a leather collar hung with copper bells. They made a pleasant tinkling sound when she moved.

It reminded Juan of the coins in his pocket. Without looking, he knew that they added up to less than four pesos. He had been saving ever since his father said that they must do without a Christmas pinata this year.

Now Mexican children do not have a Christmas tree. Instead, they hang from the ceiling a colorful human or animal figure fashioned from crepe paper. Inside the figure is concealed an earthenware pot filled with treats. On Christmas day, each child is blindfolded in turn and given a stick with which to try to break the pinata.


Advent: The Blue Spruce

By: Ardis E. Parshall - December 12, 2014

From the Improvement Era, December 1930 –

The Blue Spruce

By Ivy Williams Stone

David Lockwood the first had shaggy, beetling eyebrows, from which steel blue eyes glared at his enemies and repulsed would-be friends. When beaten men stood before the mahogany desk marked “president,” they expected and received scant mercy from those cold, calculating eyes.

David Lockwood the second had dreamy, visionary brown eyes that saw beauty in every sunset and converted commonplace meadows into pastoral scenes. He paid little attention to matters of money, for there were too many beautiful pictures that needed to be painted.

David Lockwood the third had deep blue, mischievous eyes that dared you to kiss the dimples in his neck. Mortgages and interest, canvas and pigments caused him no concern. His greatest anxiety was keeping track of his building blocks, and finding hidden sweets in his daddy’s pockets.


That Lad

By: Ardis E. Parshall - December 11, 2014

That Lad

By George E. Gibby

When I come home all tired out,
No pep left in my knees,
And throw myself upon the couch,
That lad begins to tease.
He takes my pencil from my coat,
My watch fob from my vest:
He smears my order book with jam
And climbs upon my chest.
He wants to ride a bucking horse
So grabs my new silk tie;
And when I see those eyes of his –
I simply have to try.
We tumble o’er the couch and floor
And make an awful noise –
Then mother says, with pleasing eyes:
“I’m glad we’re not all boys.”
I’ve seen rich men with childless wives
Grow surly, old and gray –
Ah, I am glad I have a lad
Who coaxes me to play.


Mormon Stuff to Give for Christmas, 1965

By: Ardis E. Parshall - December 11, 2014

From the Improvement Era, December 1965 —



Letters from Washakie, 1903

By: Ardis E. Parshall - December 11, 2014

In 1903, during his first year of school teaching, Daniel Horace Lillywhite (1880-1962) of Beaver and Salt Lake City, lived in Box Elder County, Utah, teaching children and teenagers of the Washakie (Shoshone) people. Wanting to showcase the progress of his students, he selected four letters written as a classroom exercise to send to a Latter-day Saint publication. The four student writers were all Latter-day Saints, as was teacher Lillywhite.

In introducing his set of letters, he addressed his presumed readers as those “whom the Lord has blessed with intelligence, and beautiful white skin and surrounded with every comfort and advantage necessary to their becoming what it was intended they should become – little helpers to each other, bearers of each other’s burdens, comforters to those whom sorrow has bowed down, bringing joy and gladness when they come and shedding rays of light where all is gloomy darkness.”

By contrast, the “little Lamanite brothers and sisters” whom he was introducing “do not have pretty white skin like most of us; but they have jet black hair, sparkling, eager black eyes, and half sad, half smiling countenances. … The Lord in His infinite wisdom and goodness is opening a way for these little dark children to become intelligent and useful, that they may redeem themselves by works of goodness and acts of kindness, and merit the smiles and favor of our Heavenly Father.”


Advent: “Beat Glad Drums!”

By: Ardis E. Parshall - December 11, 2014

From the Improvement Era, December 1948 –

“Beat Glad Drums!”

By Mary Knowles

Ruth held tight to Jake’s arm and looked at the gold and white drum set in the window and then with trembling at the sign that said $150. “There they are, Jake!”

Jake didn’t say anything, just looked, his old felt hat pushed to the back of his head, and she thought, $150, and just a bit over two weeks until Christmas! She could hear Jerry’s excited voice, “Oh, golly, Mom. You should see the drum set in Kimball’s window. What a Christmas present that would make!”


Christmas Thoughts, 1943

By: Ardis E. Parshall - December 10, 2014

With Warmest Good Wishes and Greetings of the Season

To my friends, my brethren, and to all good men everywhere

There will be no card this year from me – and so, will you, each and all of you, accept this as my personal greeting. My love and my blessings come with it.

For many years I have sent out cards, books and booklets – thousands upon thousands of them. I don’t know how many. One year recently as many as ten thousand cards went out; and one Christmas, not so long ago, I sent out as many as three thousand copies of one book – and many others besides – and through the years there have been maybe tens of thousands, most of which I have personally inscribed. But no matter how many have gone, there have always been so many more I would like to have remembered – and this year there are so many so far away, to whom I would like to send greetings, and whom I cannot reach – and so I use the Era to reach you all, and would like you to know that it is as though we had clasped hands and spoken greetings to each other.


This is how good ZCMI was …

By: Ardis E. Parshall - December 10, 2014

From the Improvement Era, December 1939 —


“Do not judge that which is good and of God to be of the devil”

By: Ardis E. Parshall - December 10, 2014

Unexpectedly finding himself still alive after completing his abridgment of the Jaredite record, Moroni used his time to record a few more items for the benefit of those who would one day receive the record. These precious “extras” include a sermon given by his father before the destruction of the Nephites.

“Wherefore, I would speak unto you that are of the church, that are the peaceable followers of Christ, and that have obtained a sufficient hope by which ye can enter into the rest of the Lord, from this time henceforth until ye shall rest with him in heaven.”

Mormon spoke, then, to people very much like most readers of Keepapitchinin: Most of us are of the Church, and are peaceable followers of Christ, and have our future hope in Christ.

Mormon made that judgment about his brothers because he had seen their “peaceable walk with the children of men” – he knew them, and judged them by their actions. “If their works be good,” he said, “then they are good also,” and this goodness comes from listening to God and turning away from the devil.


“Reduce Missionary Numbers — Prepare to Release All,” 1939

By: Ardis E. Parshall - December 10, 2014

As war in Europe seemed more and more likely in the fall of 1939, the Church made plans for what leaders hoped would be an orderly and non-emergency evacuation of missionaries, even from neutral countries where missionaries had remained at work during the earlier World War. If you had been an elder in the Swiss Mission, you would have received this letter at the end of September:


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