The lights are low. The fireplace, heavy quilt, and the warmth from my sisters are the things keeping me warm. I am privileged to be on the side of the bed instead of in the middle, so I can read by the light of the candle that I have on my side table. I love looking at my little sisters’ faces as they sleep, with the soft glow of light on them.
I pull out the book that Mrs. Johnson gave me. It’s dusty and I sneeze. I glance over at the girls and see Anna rub her eyes and turn over. She goes right back to sleep. I continue opening up the book and a slip of paper falls out. I open it gingerly. The words are written in the most elegant handwriting I have ever seen. As I look over it I see names that I don’t recognize.
March 3, 1904
My Dear Margaret,
I have had no greater joy than seeing you and your siblings grow in faith. I am beyond blessed to be your mother and, have no doubt, child, that your father feels just the same. We rejoice in seeing you take on more and more responsibilities in the church as you lead young girls in a study of the Word. We know it is a blessing to you as it is to them.
You are growing older and have many adventures ahead of you. Your father and I want to give you this beautiful journal so that you may record them. Write what the Lord is teaching you, write about silly things that the baby says when she can talk, write the encouraging words that the girls from your study say. Fill the pages with laughter, tears, and prayers.
Much love forever and ever, Mother
Margaret is her first name. I fold the letter back up and stick it in the front of the book. I carefully open the first page and see the delicate writing. It begins on the 3rd of March, 1904.
Well, my dear journal, I suppose I should start at the beginning. My name is Margaret Rose Johnson. I am 16 years old at this time, just as old as the maple tree in the field, for Father planted my tree the day I was born. I always thought that it would have been funny if he planted trees for all of my siblings the days they were born. I think Ethel would have a Christmas Pine tree, as she prepares for Christmas as soon as May comes around. She is always singing Christmas carols as she works. Brother Henry would have gotten a Juniper tree as he is so very, very tall. Mother says that she doesn’t know what to do with him because he is always eating, and Henry says it is because he is still growing. When he says that, Mother only says, “I should hope you are not still growing!” I love dear Henry. I often feel as if he was my big brother, even though he is a whole year younger. He is my most favorite sibling, even though it is surely wrong of me to say, because he always gives me his advice and it always turns out to be the right thing to do. I could never get in trouble with him around. My other siblings don’t have a specific tree… except maybe Heather would be one of those tropical trees that are by the ocean. She loves the day Summer begins more than she loves her very own birthday. Someday I shall make it a point to ask Father about planting those trees. Though, Heather’s tropical tree may not make it through Winter.
I suppose I should tell you about my family instead of just talking about trees. The order of my family is this: Father, Mother, myself, Henry, Heather, Mary, Jonathan, Ethel, George, Charlie, Laura and Anne. We are all very close in age. Heather and Mary are twins. I have two aunts and one uncle on Mother’s side. I have three aunts and four uncles on Father’s side. I don’t think that there is very much to say. Oh! I know. I should tell you about my Bible Study at the church. Well, the girls that come are these: Little Rosie (her name is just Rosie, but we call her that anyways), Clara, Louisa, Joy, and Helen. They are all no younger than 8 and no older than 12. I don’t think I am fit to be a teacher, but I like that we talk about what we read. The Lord was merciful in giving me eager and insightful girls to instruct. We read a text and then discuss it. We go to other Scripture verses that it reminds us of and we just have a grand old-time studying the Word.
~Margaret, on March 3rd of 1904
I gently close the book as a smile remains on my lips. There is no mistaking that this was Mrs. Johnson’s girlhood journal. I anticipate reading more, but blow out the candle for tonight.
Featured image taken from Stock Snap.