Founding Fathers Blog

Christmas with George Washington

December 18th, 2011

Christmas tree

Christmas with George Washington

When you are visited by someone as admired and revered as George Washington, you tend to get speechless, reserved and a little discomfited. That’s how we were when George came for Christmas.

We were saved because we knew George and Martha were good hosts, and so were very likely to be good guests as well. We prepared a customary Christmas dinner to be served in our dining room. So there was turkey, ham, roast beef brisket, mashed potatoes, gravy, peas, salad, and Kari’s famous orange rolls. Then, for dessert, Linda’s mouth watering Christmas cheesecake.

We learned that around a dinner table, George was not disinclined to share accounts of his magnificent life experiences. He first shamelessly praised the kitchen staff, Linda, Kari and Steve– on the sumptuous meal, and asked for more dessert.

Then he went on to remark that he and Martha had welcomed many guests over the years at their home at Mount Vernon. But had never had quite as fine a spread as we had presented to them this Christmas. George always was very polite and complimentary.

He told of one occasion when he and Martha ate a meal alone together at Mount Vernon, and he commented to her that he believed that was the first time they had dined alone in more than 15 years. They were always welcoming company, even some strangers to their dinner table.

He then told us how he and Martha met. After his heroics in the French and Indian War, he was on his way, traveling to Williamsburg to meet with the Governor. (By the way, he was never braggadocious, but was very humble and circumspect in his explanations.)  On his way he was invited to stop and dine with Mr. Richard Chamberlayne, a friend. A certain recent widow by the name of Martha Dandridge Custis was also a visitor at the Chamberlayne home that afternoon. She was the loveliest widow in all of Virginia.

They were mutually pleased on their first meeting and would fall in love with each other. George stayed longer that he had anticipated and had to spend the night at the Charmberlayne’s. As did Martha. They enjoyed a nice meal together–but not quite as nice as the one they presently attended.

Several days later, George visited Martha at her home (which ironically was known as the White House Plantation. George never got to live in the President’s Mansion, the White house, although he chose the spot where it would be built.) At this second meeting George and Martha became engaged. He told us some of the details of their wedding on January 6, 1759.

George went on to boast about how Martha had been so supportive of him all of their married life. It was obvious he loved her very much. She even visited him, and stayed a few weeks during that terrible winter at Valley Forge. She encouraged George to attend the Constitutional Convention as was requested by James Madison. This eventually led to the adoption of the U.S. Constitution, and to George being elected unanimously to the 1st national presidency.

George shared several accounts of incidents during his life when he knew he had been protected by the “hand of Providence.” Including one battle in the French and Indian War when he had two horses shot out from under him and found four bullet holes through his coat. There were also many such incidents during the Revolutionary War when he was aware of such protection. He acknowledged more that 57.

George told of when he was sworn in as the first U.S. President–he was uncomfortable, not certain he could actually carry out his new duties properly. So after recitation of the oath of office, with his hand on the Bible, he spontaneously added the words “So help me God!”

He could feel the direct assistance of Heavenly help all during his administration. He was thankful for the maxim he learned as a youth: “work to keep alive in your breast that little spark of light we call conscience.” When he left office, he left this counsel: “Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion.”

George was a quietly religious man who love the Savior. He was thrilled to see the growth in knowledge, technology, and the many new comforts that had come into our life. He believed these were all as a direct result of the courage the Founding Fathers showed in creating a country based on liberty, freedom of religion, and individual accomplishment, not government interference.

Both he and Martha were overjoyed to witness our preparations and decorations in celebration of the birth of the Christ Child. They loved the soft Christmas music, the lights, ribbons and banners, the smells of Christmas treats, and the gifts under the Christmas tree. And they could feel our love, for each other, for the country, and for the Savior of all mankind.

Merry Christmas George . . .and Martha!

1 Comment

  1. Oh Steve it was lovely. I could just picture you telling the story with your usual smile and expressiveness. We love and miss you so much. May you enjoy the true spirit and meaning of Christmas. Your favorite Sister in law 😉

    Comment by Shirlyn Allen — December 22, 2011 @ 8:09 am

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