The Hogan on the Hill

Life isn’t easy for many of the Navajo people. Comforts—and even some necessities—are difficult to come by on the reservation. There are those, for example, who haul their water several miles by wagon.

But their hardships don’t prevent them from celebrating the birth of the Savior at Christmastime. We learned this for ourselves the first Christmas we spent as husband, wife, and baby daughter on the Navajo Indian Reservation at Chinle, Arizona, where my husband was helping construct a hospital and some apartment buildings.

Most of the families in our little LDS branch had gone their various ways for Christmas. Our family celebrated by inviting six missionaries to dinner at our small trailer and by attending the branch Christmas party at the Yazzie home, a little dirt hogan on a windswept hill.

At the festivities, two of the elders told the Christmas story to the little children, who listened quietly with wide eyes. Friends and strangers wandered in to the Yazzie hogan from over the hills as the aroma of fry bread and mutton stew filled the air.

It was a simple Christmas celebration. There were no gingerbread houses, no Santa, no jingle bells, and no candy—only the singing of carols and the telling of the beautiful story of Christ’s birth. But never did I feel the spirit of Christmas so much as in that little hogan on the windy hill.

[illustration] Illustrated by Mark Graham

Edith L. Lamb is the editor of the Clinton Sixth Ward’s newsletter and a family file consultant and temple representative in the Clinton Utah North Stake.