The First California Thanksgiving

November 24th 1887

Thanksgiving Day!

One does well at least once a year to pause and think over the many things they have to be thankful for. Somehow my life in California does not seem like living. It is sinfully existing, working, and worrying. Life to be satisfactory must be an advance of some sort. There is a great pleasure in feeling that your mind is growing, that you are learning something of value, that you are adding to your store of knowledge. It is even a greater happiness to feel that ones moral and spiritual nature is becoming stronger and richer. To feel nearer to God. To feel that the world is better for your being in it. That you are exerting an influence for good among those whom you meet in all social intercourse. It is a true joy to every mother to see her children growing in grace and improving in mind and manner. Surely none of these sources of happiness are mine.

There is no justice in judging women by one standard as regards their daily life. Some women love to cook, to care for the house, to sew, and plan, and keep house. If they are not overworked, a life full of such duties is a real satisfaction to them. It is no fault in another woman if these things are distasteful to her. If books and writing and intellectual society are her delights, and the monotonous daily round of housework taking all her time using all her energies, becomes utterly distasteful. To my first woman a season with nothing to do, and plenty of books, paper, and pens on hand would be as wearisome as the active exercise of hand and time is to the other.

We have health,a comfortable home, plenty of clothing. What ought we to desire more? We certainly ought to appreciate these blessings. I should, if I could, share them with others but what a selfish life ours is. Our comforts are not extended. We share with no one the goods that have fallen to our share. Hospitality is a beautiful virtue. Not only the inviting of congenial friends to ones home, but inviting also those who will find a day of rest, an excellent meal,and a bright cheerful companion a real pleasure, even though you receive more in return. It has someway been born in on my mind very strongly of late what a simple way of giving happiness the judicious exercise of hospitality might become. We had so much company in Geneva but so seldom invited with the thought of unselfishly giving others pleasure. Perhaps it was no fault to enjoy our friends so much that we felt we were receiving rather than granting favors, but there were some who came, and we entertained rather grudgingly, without thinking that we had an opportunity of giving pleasure even if we received none.

The children are attending school. Of course I am thankful for that, but they take such a long walk over such a lonely way that I do not like that.. Millie usually takes them in the buggy, but LeBaron comes home at noon, and Edie should come home at two but has to wait till four for May. There is not one house between ours and the schoolhouse.

We had a very different Thanksgiving dinner from our Illinois ones. Walter came home from a little trip bringing a leg of mutton. Peter had bought one in Cucamunga. When we sat down to dinner Edie asked “Is this Papa’s leg or Peter’s leg” Our laugh was our sauce.

After dinner Carrie Ray called with Howard James. He is very pleasant. A nice looking man, cordial and cousinly. I’ve never spoken of cousin Frank, Howard’s brother, who has bought the other Frank’s property here, and is living in a little shanty by himself and is overseeing his land. He is not at all well, is very silent and not at all cousinly, but is a very well read, brainy man, fond of always taking the opposite side. A man for whom I have the truest sympathy as he is one of the many who with bright minds and capability for success, has, from the force of circumstances, been obliged to live an isolated uncongenial life on a ranch way up in the mountains, where not even pecuniary gain compensated for limited and uncongenial surroundings. And at last his fine health and remarkable strength have gone leaving him feeble and much changed. How can such trials be endured uncomplainingly? Such lives appeal to my very heart. “Disappointed” might be their epitaph.

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2 thoughts on “The First California Thanksgiving

  1. Aha, suspense! Of course we know the family moved back to Geneva Illinois and this is the first hint. Maria doesn’t sound happy here!

    Like

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