Yesterday in Sacrament meeting in the Appleton Second Ward of Appleton, Wisconsin, the Stake President, Nathan Munson, shared a Christmas story involving Leo Munson, his ancestor from Escalante, a small town in one of the most beautiful parts of Utah. The story, “Six Brown Eggs” by Jennie Spencer Baty, was published in a southern Utah newspaper and has been reprinted recently in A Chicken Soup for the Soul Christmas by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (2012, available on Amazon). I’d like to share this as Christmas approaches, hoping we might always look for opportunities to be generous with whatever we have to offer others in need, recognizing that small acts of kindness might serve as small miracles that give lasting blessings to others.
It was the Great Depression. My father and two of his younger brothers were
wool growers in southern Utah.
The bottom had dropped out of the wool business, as it also had for cattle and
sheep. There was no money. We could neither sell anything nor buy anything.
Papa was almost always at the sheep camp, even at Thanksgiving and
Christmas. And since our mother had died when the youngest sister was born, we
children were alone. Year after year, we took care of ourselves. We planned our
own Thanksgivings and Christmases. But we missed our father. We felt things
were not quite fair.
This year, one of his brothers said he would relieve our father at the sheep
herd. Our father, our dear papa, would be home! We were overcome with joy. We
planned all the things we could do for our marvelous Christmas!
My sisters, Melba, Emma, and little Verle, dragged out the bedraggled
Christmas decorations and made the house festive. Jesse cut and stacked
armloads of wood on the back porch. He killed a fat hen and left her hanging to
drain and freeze. I would dress her for Christmas dinner. I saved the eggs. The
hens seldom laid eggs in the cold winter, so I saved every one to make custard
pies for Papa.
Papa loved custard pies.
Then we learned that Papa’s brother did not go to the sheep herd. He was
home with his family, as always. Papa would not be home. Christmas lost its
meaning. There was no money and no way of getting any to buy presents. We
had made so many happy plans. For a few moments, our world seemed to fall
At fifteen, I was the oldest. My sisters looked at me with wondering eyes—
eyes that said, “Jennie, can’t you do something? Won’t we have any kind of
I went to the pantry to hide my tears. Inside were the six brown eggs; I just
looked at them. Then I looked again at these big, brown Barred Rock eggs. Eggs
were as scarce as money. Why, those eggs were valuable! They were a dollar, a
whole dollar! I laid them carefully on a folded towel in the brass kettle.
My sisters stared at me as I put on my coat and hood, and pulled on my
overshoes. They saw my beaming face, and their faces brightened. “Be careful
with the fire,” I said at the door, “but keep it going. Santa Claus is at the store, and I’m going to see him.”
I ran like the wind, plowing through snow that came over the top of my
overshoes. What if the stores were all closed? “Oh, dear Heavenly Father,” I
prayed, “please, please help me.”
The stores were dark. All the storekeepers and the clerks had gone home. But
then—a flicker of light in Leo
Munson’s store sparked my hopes. I literally fell through the door as Leo
opened it to go home. I held on to the eggs, and, miraculously, none of them were
Leo looked at the eggs, then at me holding the bucket out to him and trying to
explain why I was there. I heard myself blurting, “Christmas, Leo, for Jesse and
my little sisters. This is all I have. Are they—are they worth a dollar?”
Leo understood, probably far more than I knew. “Don’t say another word
Jennie,” he said. “A dollar! I haven’t been able to buy an egg in town. No one will
sell any. My wife wants eggs for Christmas.”
He got sacks and put the things we needed most in them: gloves, socks,
stockings. He filled the sacks up even with some store candy and five big
beautiful oranges. “One of those oranges is for you, Jennie,” he said. “Merry
I thanked Leo and thanked him again. Then, with those big, full sacks, I
stumbled out the door.
There was no deep snow, no cold wind, no ice, nor sagging, cracking trees.
Violets were blooming, and birds were singing, and I walked on apple blossoms. Home to Christmas, bought with six brown eggs—and some help from Leo