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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Where there's a will there's a way

Sister Jones shared this story with me and I thought you might enjoy it too.

Orderville was a community in south-central Utah where the Saints attempted to live the "United Order," having all things in common. It was active from 1875 to 1885. These efforts sometimes caused some interesting conflicts, as in the case of these mothers determined to provide Christmas treats for their children.

Howard Orson Spencer was chosen to be bishop and leader in the little community of Orderville, in southern Utah. One December evening some of the sisters of Orderville met to plan a Christmas treat for the children. The order had no luxuries and the necessities were strictly rationed. About the only sweets the people had was molasses, so, the sisters decided to make molasses candy and cookies for the youngsters. But on Christmas Eve, they came to Grandmother Spencer with news that the brother in charge of the molasses "won't let us have any. He says our allowance for the month is already used." Grandmother's lips tightened. "The children are going to have something for Christmas. I'll speak to my husband after dinner -- he'll give us permission."

When grandfather came in tired and hungry, grandmother hovered over him and after dinner urged him to rest by the fire. As he sat looking drowsily into the flames, she said in a low voice, "You do think the children should have some candy and cookies for Christmas, don't you Howard?" "Umm-hmm," was the sleepy response and grandmother went away smiling. She reported to the ladies that everything was all right, "My husband has given us permission." "Did he say we could have the molasses?" asked one doubting Thomas. "He didn't say "No" replied grandmother truthfully. "Now we won't wake up the brother in charge of the molasses. We'll just slip out and take what we need."

The man in charge of the molasses barrel was very conscious of his responsibility. On the lid of the barrel he had placed a section of heavy logging chain and a large boulder. Only a thin wooden partition at the head of the bed separated him from the barrel outside, and he was a light sleeper. Shivering from the cold the women crunched through the snow toward the barrel. It was beginning to snow again and the night was very dark. With infinite caution they removed the heavy chain without so much as one betraying clank. It took the combined efforts of all the women to lower the boulder noiselessly to the ground. There was a breathless pause as grandmother raised the lid and dipped into the barrel with a saucepan. She emptied its contents into a bucket and dipped again and again. "We have enough now," whispered one of the women, the women filed back to the warm kitchen to make the Christmas goodies. But, there was a dismayed gasp when they looked into the pail, "Oh dear, we haven't enough molasses. We'll have to get some more." "Oh no, Sister Spencer. it's so cold and dark. It's too risky." "Well just the same, we must unless we want the children to be disappointed."

There could only be one answer to such a statement and the little band of mothers went again to the molasses barrel. They returned safely and set to work. When morning came, every child in Orderville had two molasses cookies and one big slightly sticky lump of candy in his stocking. Santa Claus had not forgotten them. Grandfather insisted all his life that he could not remember ever having given the women permission to get the molasses. (Carter, Our Pioneer Heritage, 18:160-161)

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