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Utahns spend Christmas in many ways, traditional and otherwise.

For some, there is pleasure in harking back to an earlier day when life was simpler and the demands of relative affluence did not burden the holiday.Pioneer Trail State Park provided that opportunity again this holiday season.

Deseret News Chief Photographer Tom Smart caught the moment as many area residents enjoyed an authentic pioneer Christmas.

Visitors to the park went by candlelight, on foot or by horse and buggy, to Brigham Young's old farmhouse, the old Social Hall and other vintage dwellings, some of them original to the Wasatch Front's pioneer era.

By firelight and candlelight, they watched host families at the homes engage in a Christmas celebration, late 1880s style. Popcorn was popped in the fireplace, then strung; gingerbread cookies filled the air with a cinnamon-and-ginger aroma; square dancing put a lilt into the air. And scripture reading by a modern-day "Brother Brigham" capped the celebration with the deeper meaning of the season.

News flash!!

Utahns have grounded the Grinch for another year. They've boo-ed the bah-humbugs, said "scram" to Scrooge. They've downed the doomsayers, nixed the negatives and - for a day, at least - pursued peace and given good will.

In short, the vast majority of Utahns are having a marvelously merry Christmas.

For weeks, they've decked the halls, shopped the malls, made Christmas calls. They've hung up holly, felt quite jolly, smiled, by golly; sung Noel, rung a bell, surrendered to the Christmas spell.

And on a crisp wintry Christmas-card morning, hundreds of thousands of Utah kiddies awoke to find Santa had again accomplished his magic - magic that made believers even of some adults who had looked at their November budgets and swore St. Nick wouldn't manage it this year.

Stockings bulge in homes where Plenty and Enough are present and in other homes where Want and Need were held at bay - for today - by the goodness and generosity of others.

Today, in thousands of homes throughout the state, merriment is combined with the deep spiritual sense of the season. The symbolism of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth is renewed in ever-living trees, candles whose light shatters the darkness, and stars twinkling eternally in a vast universe.

The aroma of roasting turkeys in thousands of homes could scent enough air to keep Utah licking its collective chops well into January. And enough hardtack, candy canes and chocolate candy has been consumed to provide a collective tummyache until Valentine's Day.

Enough good deeds - often anonymous little acts of kindness - have been done to kindle a glow well beyond the yule. Shakespeare, who said that a good deed shines like a candle in a naughty world, would have been proud.

And there are enough happy stories to cheer the soul until a new Christmas season comes to usher in a new round. Samples from the 1988 store, from Utah and around the country, include:

Rivalry lights up yules

A light moment - literally - was provided by the friendly rivalry between Friendship, Wis., and Memphis, Tenn., regarding which community's Christmas tree had the most lights of any in the world.

Friendship won acclaim in the 1987 Guinness Book of World Records with its 27,000-light Christmas tree. Memphis thumbed its nose at the Guinness Book, touting a superior 45-foot Canadian balsam tree buried under 42,000 lights.

Friendship countered that its 1988 45-footer - also a Canadian balsam - now has 44,900 lights, give or take a thousand.

Well, we'll leave that one to the Guinness people, who have more time for counting than we do.

Finding the `perfect' tree

And then there was the one about the Utah grandfather who took his granddaughter Christmas tree shopping.

At the first stop, he saw many trees that he thought would meet the needs of the family celebration, but the little girl said, "Grandpa, this isn't just what I wanted."

Six tree lots or so later, he was still finding many that met the need and she was still saying, "But, Grandpa." In exasperation, he finally issued an ultimatum. The next lot was the one, come what may.

The child's lower lip sagged and she whispered, "But, Grandpa, aren't there any with lights on them?"

'Twas better to give . . .

Or how about the touching tale of four local kiddies, three brothers and one sister, who embodied the spirit that "It's more blessed to give than to receive."

The two older boys had worked hard for several months doing odd jobs in the neighborhood and baby-sitting so they could purchase a Nintendo - THE fad of the year.

Mom and Pop were aware of the intensity of the desire and had already bought the coveted video game as they went about Santa Clausing, so they were trying tofend off the kids' intent without letting the cat out of the bag

As Christmas approached, Dad and Mom volunteered to go shopping with the kids, encouraging them to spend some of their money on each other. That way, they wouldn't be able to afford a Nintendo and the question would be moot. But they found the youngsters strangely reluctant.

In the course of events, Mom and Pop found that their children had thrown their resources into one pot - more than $100 worth - and had solicited help from Grandmother to buy a gift for their parents.

If they hadn't received their Nintendo for Christmas, even I wouldn't have believed in Santa Claus.

`Plees' - no Xmas menu

A group of third-grade students at Rosamond Elementary School in the Jordan District fell under the spell of Christmas, even though their spelling leaves a bit to be desired.

The third-graders objected to the use of Xmas, the shortened version of Christmas, on their lunch menu, and took action.

They drafted a petition with the invitation to "Plees Sine" and circulated it among fellow students.

Their message to food service workers was: "Dear Edeter of the lunch menu. you shouldn't take Christ out of Christmas me and my friends don't like Xmas. Thank you."

Good for them, for sticking up for their convictions. However, they might be gratified to learn that X is the symbol of the Greek letter Chi, which, hundredsof years ago, came to stand for Christ. Xmas, Christmas. 'Tis the same.

Proud as the Dickenses

Cedric Charles Dickens, 72, spent the Christmas season - like many before it - recalling a ghost of Christmases past: the holiday legacy left to the world by his great-grandfather, Charles Dickens.

The modern Dickens takes great pride in his progenitor and has traveled widely as head of the Dickens Fellowship.

However, when he was invited to head the organization, he said, he pulled a bah-humbug on a minor scale.

"I told the secretary of the fellowship, `I can't do this. I know nothing about my great-grandfather.' And I didn't," recalled Dickens. "But the secretary said, `I know all about your great-grandfather. I'll teach you. You have the name.' "

So he did and so he does, and the world is better for it.

For as the original Dickens said, in his immortal Christmas epic, "A Christmas Carol," a man under the influence of a Dickens-style Christmas becomes a different man. After his conversion, Scrooge "became as good a friend, as good a master and as good a man as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town or borough in the good old world."


The Deseret News joins in wishing its readers the same.