“A Cabbage for Christmas,” Friend, Dec. 2004, 5
“Annie, we need a cabbage for Christmas dinner tomorrow,” Mother said. “Please go to the Olsens and trade these potatoes for one. Hurry now. Night’s coming.”
Eleven-year-old Annie sighed, dropping her knitting and picking up the burlap bag of potatoes. It was a tradition in Norway for families to have a cabbage for Christmas dinner, and Annie knew it would be delicious. But she didn’t want to leave the warm fire. “Can Gunnild come, too?” she asked hopefully.
“No, she must feed the goats and help your father.”
Annie buttoned her sheepskin coat and hurried outside into the brisk air. The snow crunched under her feet and the sharp wind whipped her blonde braids as she scurried down the path.
A few minutes later she reached the Olsens’ cabin and rapped on the wooden door. Mrs. Olsen peeked out, her blue eyes wide with surprise.
“Why, Annie! What are you doing out in this bitter wind? Your cheeks are as bright as strawberries. Come in and warm yourself.”
Annie’s fingers and toes tingled as she stood by the crackling fire. “Mother asked me to trade these potatoes for a cabbage,” she said.
“Oh, child, I’m sorry. I have no more cabbages. We ate our last one yesterday.” Mrs. Olsen stirred the big black kettle hanging over the fire. “Would you like some porridge?”
“No, thank you,” Annie replied. “I can’t stay. Do you know where I can get a cabbage?”
“The Petersens may have one. Jens had a good crop this year. But if you go there, you must hurry. It feels like there’s a storm brewing.”
“Thanks, Mrs. Olsen,” Annie said as she hurried outside. Tucking the bag under her arm, she plunged her hands deep into her pockets and trudged forward. The icy wind slapped her face, and black clouds rumbled overhead.
After what seemed like hours, she reached the Petersens. Luckily, Mrs. Petersen had an extra cabbage to trade for Annie’s potatoes. Waving good-bye, Annie headed home. Tiny snowflakes fluttered around her, covering the path with a goose-feathery whiteness.
Annie thought of her family’s warm cabin. She could almost smell the savory lutefisk (dried codfish) and potatoes cooking. Perhaps her mother was also making riskrem (rice pudding) and hiding an almond inside. Maybe Annie would be the lucky one to find it.
The snow began to fall faster. Thick flakes coated her eyelashes and buried the path. Annie stared at the landscape ahead of her, struggling to find the trail. “Is that our cabin?” she thought, noticing a dark shape in the swirling snow. But it was only a thicket of trees. Annie was confused. “Where am I?” she wondered. “Why do the mountains look like giants?” She felt like she was in a dream.
Huge snowdrifts seemed like a warm, white feather bed, urging her to stop and sleep. At first she resisted by thinking about home. She plodded forward on what felt like wooden-post legs, clutching her cabbage. But finally her weary legs collapsed, and she lay down, wrapping herself in a soft blanket of snow.
Back at home, Annie’s father stared out into the whirling whiteness. Where was Annie? He bundled up in his heavy coat and grabbed his lantern. He hurried down the trail, shouting into the wind, “Annie, Annie!”
Next to a giant spruce tree he noticed a strange mound. He rushed forward, swinging his lantern. In the dim light, he saw a pale figure in the snow. Was it Annie? He rushed to her, gathering her in his arms and wrapping his fur coat around her.
“Please, God,” he prayed, “let her live.”
A faint breath stirred Annie’s lips as she whimpered, “Papa.”
“Annie, you’re alive! It’s a miracle!” he cried. “God has preserved your life for a special purpose.”
Nine years later Annie married Soren Hansen. They had eight children. When Soren died, Annie sold sawdust to the butcher shops to support her family. Every day she hitched her yellow pony to a little cart and carried a load of sawdust to nearby Oslo.
One day as Annie neared the open-air market, she heard a strange commotion. Two young men were speaking to a crowd gathered near the vegetable market. Annie was curious and stopped to listen. They spoke about a prophet and the Book of Mormon.
Their message stirred Annie’s heart. On 2 March 1857 she was baptized as one of the first converts in Norway.
Annie became a powerful missionary. She shared the gospel with everyone who would listen. Even Mr. Gulbrandsen, who owned the sawmill, joined the Church after Annie taught him the gospel. She continued to share her testimony until she died in Norway at age 81. Some of her children and grandchildren emigrated to America.
Today her great-great-grandchildren still love to hear about the miracle of Annie, who went to get a cabbage for Christmas.
“God will preserve and protect us, and will prepare the way before us, that we shall live and multiply … and always do His will.”
President Joseph F. Smith (1838–1918), in Conference Report, Oct. 1905, 5–6.