As we approach Christmas, I wish you a happy and healthy holiday season. In that spirit, and knowing your love of Mormon history, I share the following account by Joseph Smith of a memorable Christmas day in 1843 in Nauvoo:
“This morning about one o’clock I was aroused by an English sister, Lettice Rushton, widow of Richard Rushton, Senior, (who, ten years ago, lost her sight), accompanied by three of her sons, with their wives, and her two daughters, with their husbands, and several of her neighbors, singing, ‘Mortals awake with angels join,’ &c., which caused a thrill of pleasure to run through my soul.
All of my family and boarders arose to hear the serenade, and I felt to thank my Heavenly Father for their visit, and blessed them in the name of the Lord. . . . At two o’clock [p.m.] about fifty couples sat down at my table to dine. . . . A large party supped at my house and spent the evening in music, dancing, &c., in a most cheerful and friendly manner. During the festivities, a man with his hair long and falling over his shoulders, and apparently drunk, came in and acted like a Missourian. I requested the captain of the police to put him out of doors. A scuffle ensued and I had the opportunity to look him full in the face, when, to my great surprise and joy untold, I discovered it was my long-tried, warm, but cruelly persecuted friend, Orrin Porter Rockwell, just arrived from nearly a year’s imprisonment, without conviction, in Missouri.”
I hope that you, like Joseph Smith, will be reunited with friends and loved ones this season.
Although this is a busy time of year with many holiday preparations, it is also the season to prepare for 2017. Among those preparations, please renew your MHA membership right away to ensure your uninterrupted access to new issues of the Journal of Mormon History, MHA newsletters, and registration materials for our annual conference.
Speaking of our conference, the local arrangements committee for the St. Louis conference led by Tom Farmer is interested in your feedback regarding your preferences for a post-conference tour. By participating in the brief survey included with this newsletter, you can help the committee to plan one or more outstanding post-conference tours.
As 2016 winds down perhaps you will also be reviewing your finances, consulting tax tables, and making some tax-deductible contributions. I hope that you will join me in making a tax-deductible gift to MHA. Instructions for giving are included in this newsletter. At our semi-annual meeting last month, MHA’s board of directors identified many worthy programs that require more outlays than our modest endowment income can provide. These include travel grants that enable students to attend our conferences and present papers, our annual awards for books and articles, plenary speakers for our conferences, and the entertainment and food we enjoy at conference receptions and at our complimentary membership luncheon. It costs money to operate and maintain our office and website, and we would like to improve our outreach and public relations. It would be wonderful to have the funds to enable historians of Mormonism living abroad to travel to our conferences and share their research with us. Your gifts enhance MHA’s reach and facilitate its institutional independence.