Christmas in the Time of the Plague

I know what you’re thinking, or at least what you’ll be thinking in a few minutes: You’ll be thinking that I made this up, or that I’ve watched too many sappy holiday movies. No. The story, so far as I have been able to verify what seem to be absolutely legitimate sources, is true.

James Albert Anderson (“Jim”; 1874-1926) married Martha Sophia Heiner (“Sophia”; 1884-1978) in the Salt Lake Temple in 1907. They settled in Morgan, Morgan County, Utah (that’s northern Utah, in the general neighborhood of Ogden). Morgan was, and is, a small community, but one that provided great economic opportunity for Jim. He was a successful businessman in coal mine management, among other enterprises which included either a cannery or the wholesaling of canned goods; he was the ward’s bishop, and represented the community in state politics at various times, and served on community boards of all types. Sophia was a gracious hostess, a Relief Society worker, and a woman who waited patiently for children that never came.

Well, in one sense, children did come. The Andersons built a large home, beautifully landscaped, with a grass tennis court at its side. Their large basement was finished elegantly with a maple floor and stage curtains. Children and youths flocked to the home, using the basement as a gymnasium by day and as a theater or ballroom in the evening. Great crowds of them came on Christmas Day for the treats and gifts that the Andersons dealt out liberally – after the Andersons had spent Christmas Eve day every year delivering gift boxes to widows and others throughout the valley.

Read the rest of this story at
Comments and feedback can be sent to