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Ten Things of Thankful: Pioneer Day Edition

John stands by our garden, where the corn which was knee-high on the 4th of July now towers over him on the 24th of July

Here in Utah, July 24th is a holiday: Pioneer Day, commemorating the day in 1847 that the pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley. Tonight, firework displays will go off all over the state. Today's Ten Things of Thankful post will be written with history in mind.

I'm thankful (1) for the legacy of faith the pioneers left. Even though I don't literally descend from pioneers who crossed the Mormon Trail, I am impressed by their dedication to the gospel of Jesus Christ. I moved here to Utah 3 years ago, and it was hard work! Compared to the pioneers, though, I had it easy. I drove in a van, I was neither hungry nor cold, the journey was completed in a day (or two, I don't remember now if we took two days or not), and no one died along the road. Those pioneers rode in wagons, or walked, pushing handcarts, for months. They were hungry and cold, and (especially true for the Willie and Martin handcart companies) not everyone made it to Utah. I'm thankful (2) for modern transportation, (3) abundant food,  (4) shelter against the elements, and (5) modern medicine. 

When the pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, it was a barren desert. When I arrived, I had a house waiting for me, and restaurants and grocery stores for food. The pioneers had to construct their own buildings and plant their own crops. I have a garden, but I don't depend on it to provide 100% of my food. I'm thankful (6) that gardening is a pleasure and not a necessity. 

I planted my garden in plenty of time for it to grow and produce this year. With the pioneers arriving to the valley on July 24, their initial gardens were planted very late in the season. I can only imagine how difficult that first winter must have been. 

When the pioneers came west, they were escaping persecution; the governor of Missouri had actually issued an extermination order against the church members. I have never feared for my life because of my beliefs. I'm thankful (7) for religious freedoms. I'm also thankful (8) that my move to Utah was not made because we had to leave California, but because we wanted to come to Utah. 

The journey for the pioneers was arduous, but not without joy. William Clayton wrote the moving hymn, now known as "Come, Come Ye Saints," following the birth of his son. He explained in his journal:
This morning I composed a new song, ‘All Is Well.’ I feel to thank my Heavenly Father for my boy. I hope that my wife will soon be well.
I'm thankful (9) for the example of the pioneers, who showed that it is possible to be thankful even in difficult circumstances. 


Years ago, John and I had the opportunity to be "Pa" and "Ma" for a group of teens as we recreated the pioneer handcart trek. We were one "family" of many who spent less than a week pushing handcarts in the mountains of California. One part of the experience was the Women's Pull. In order to better understand the trials of those early pioneers (some of whom were widowed), for one uphill portion of the trail, the men were not allowed to help push or pull the handcarts. As soon as the men let go, the handcart became so heavy. The men watched on, helpless, as the women pushed and pulled with all their might. It was a difficult trail, but in the end, both the men and the women had a deeper appreciation of each other's strengths. I'm thankful (10) for John, who helps me push our proverbial handcart through life (and who helped push the actual handcart all the times he was allowed!)

Our trek family pushing a handcart up a mountain road

Happy Pioneer Day! 

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  1. Umph! That would have been a long journey if I had to handle the handcart. Wow! That's some corn!

    1. I'm so amazed when I think of what a difficult journey that must have been--not only physically, but emotionally as well.

  2. I enjoyed reading about the history of pioneers. Yes, we can learn a lot of precious lessons from them. Happy weekend!

  3. Knowing John, I can just imagine how difficult that must have been to watch you have to struggle with the handcart.
    I have always liked that hymn.
    Enjoy the fireworks!

    1. Fireworks aren't allowed in our neighborhood, but the rest of the valley more than makes up for it! We sat outside and just had to laugh at the number of pyrotechnic displays.

  4. Very cool post. I agree how difficult it is to appreciate the experience of those settlers and pioneers! (Phyllis and I were once watching a movie that was set in the early middle ages. At one point the protagonist said, "There is still three days, four if the weather is bad" journey left. They were walking beside a wagon being pulled by a horse.
    Up to the computer, calculate the range of speeds likely in the scenario and then to google maps.
    Three days (or four) to get to a town in our area that would take 20 minutes by car.!

    Good Post

    PS. total garden envy here...

    1. The world has shrunk considerably with modern transportation, that's for sure.
      Hopefully that corn will actually produce ears. So far, we can see just one starting.

  5. It is always the work of those who came before that makes what we enjoy possible. May we leave as much good to those who come after us.

  6. What an awesome post! I loved reading about Pioneer Day and how you linked their struggles to your joys and gratitude. I am also impressed with your own journey, even though you have grocery stores and don't need a garden 100%. Thanks for the photos, too. I forget how dry that part of the country can be. In places. Utah is a state that we should visit, for sure. It's simply gorgeous! Thanks again.

    1. I love to play tour guide, so be sure to let me know if you come to Utah! (After COVID calms down, of course.) :-)


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