Joseph Smith Descendants Host 1840s Christmas Celebration in Nauvoo

By Marjorie H. Rice

NAUVOO, Illinois — On Joseph Smith's last Christmas on earth, he wrote, A large party supped at my house, and spent the evening in music, dancing, etc., in a most cheerful and friendly manner. After 164 years, descendants of Joseph and Emma Smith will host for the first time a commemorative Christmas weekend in Nauvoo, Illinois, Thursday December 6th through Saturday the 8th, 2007. The planned events are open to the first 100 who register.

Events begin with a Thursday evening presentation by the family of Kimberly Smith, great-great-granddaughter of Joseph and Emma. They will share personal stories of Joseph and his family, gleaned from journals of his children. They will also perform musical numbers written by Joseph and Emma's children and grandchildren.

On Friday morning, a brunch will be served in the historic Nauvoo House on the banks of the Mississippi River. “Emma Smith” will serve the meal to visitors in her own cheery dining room in this, her final home in Nauvoo. That afternoon guests will tour the Joseph Smith sites C the Homestead, Mansion House and Red Brick Store to hear little-known stories of the remarkable family who lived and worked there.

“Mansion House,” a painting by artist Steve Hanlin.

On Friday evening, an 1840s Christmas Party will be staged in the Nauvoo House, which will be decked out in period Christmas decor. Members of the Nauvoo Re-enactors Guild, posing as prominent early Nauvoo citizens, will welcome visitors to an old-time celebration with wassail and holiday treats, music, dancing, and dramatized storytelling.

Other weekend events in Nauvoo include an annual tree-lighting ceremony early on Saturday evening at the Historic Nauvoo Visitors Center. Guests will gather with local citizens and the mayor of Nauvoo to enjoy special musical numbers and join with the Nauvoo-Colusa High School choir and band in singing Christmas carols as the switch is flipped and the magnificent, two-story Christmas tree glows with thousands of lights.

Then, the horse-drawn wagons, jingling with sleigh bells and decorated with fresh pine garland and lights, will take visitors through Historic Nauvoo, its streets lined with glowing luminaries, to tour the 30 decorated homes and shops. Cider and cookies will be served in the Family Living Center. Every half hour throughout the evening, a live Christmas presentation will be performed in the Historic Cultural Hall.

Kimberly Smith says she hopes those who come to Nauvoo for this unique weekend Awill not only create wonderful Christmas memories for themselves but will come to better know the personal side of Joseph and Emma and their children — their family devotion and the love and joy they shared with each other.

You may register for A Nauvoo Christmas with the Smith Family by calling 800/416-4470. A $59 non-refundable registration fee covers the Smith family presentation, Friday morning brunch, tours of the Joseph Smith sites, and the Friday evening party. Saturday events at Historic Nauvoo are free and open to the public.

Discounted lodging is available, beginning at $49 per night (double occupancy), for this event only, at Nauvoo Family Inn & Suites. The hotel also offers a meal package of two breakfasts and three dinners for $55.65 per person (which includes tax and gratuity).

An itinerary of events and further information is available by visiting

About the Author:

Marjorie Rice is a wife, mother of four daughters, and grandmother to 22. She has been a magazine publisher and editor and has always loved to write about things that matter. Originally from Ogden, Utah, she and her husband, George, have lived in Nauvoo since 2003. She serves on the Public Relations Committee for the Nauvoo Pageant; directs the Nauvoo Re-enactors Guild, a group of local thespians who re-enact historical events in Nauvoo; and organizes a Nauvoo women's retreat each year. Marjorie and George love welcoming visitors to the City Beautiful.

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