A Joyful Reunion
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“A Joyful Reunion,” New Era, Dec. 1988, 21

A Joyful Reunion

Following my release from my first mission in 1923, I returned home to Whitney, Idaho, on Christmas Eve. It was a joyful reunion with my ten brothers and sisters, and especially with my father and mother in a home that had been as near ideal as a Latter-day Saint home could be.

Father and Mother always made it a practice to hang the stockings, one on each chair, for the children and to place their limited gifts on or under or near each chair. This was quite a task because they made it a practice to hide the presents to be sure that none of the children saw them before Christmas morning.

Father and Mother took me into their confidence that Christmas Eve, which I shall never forget, and we stayed up all during the night. In fact, we didn’t retire at all. We filled the stockings after going to the granary and elsewhere on the farm to get the presents which had been secretly hidden by our devoted and beloved parents. This took a good part of the night. The rest we spent visiting together, with Father and Mother telling me of the progress made by each of the children while I was away, and with me reporting to them and responding to their questions regarding my wonderful mission of 30 months in the British Isles. It was a choice evening. My love for my parents had never been quite so great before as it was that night.

It was agreed that the children could arise early Christmas morning. I don’t remember the hour, but I think it was 5:00 A.M. They were each to go in the kitchen, as I remember it, for a glass of milk and a piece of bread and butter and honey before they came into the living room to partake of the goodies from their stockings and to enjoy the excitement of their presents from Santa. It was a happy morning. I could not hold back the tears as I watched with pride the reactions of my six brothers and four sisters and the loving expressions of my noble parents as they watched their posterity partake of the Christmas spirit and as they felt of the unity which prevailed in our family circle.

This 1944 photograph of the Benson family appeared in the Deseret News, a Salt Lake City newspaper. The joy evident in the faces of the children echoes President Benson’s own childhood memories of family Christmases on a farm in Whitney, Idaho.