When Clarence was 13 years old, he lived in a little frame house on a rented farm west of McCammon, Idaho. He was the 3rd child out of 8. His bedroom was originally the wash room and was attached to the house. His room didn't have a door, but a canvas to keep out the wind. The snow would drift in through the cracks in the wall. He slept on a cot with a straw mattress and put hot irons in the foot of the bed to stay warm.
The family didn't make enough money from their farm to get through the winter. So his father and older brother (age 15) took a job feeding cattle and milking cows near Pocatello, 22 miles away.
He was left to care for his mother and siblings. Their fuel was wood they got from a nearby canyon, they didn't have money for coal. When the sleigh came by to pick up children for school, he was still cutting wood.
He was lucky if he got to school by recess time. After school he went back to chopping wood and other chores.
That Christmas was small in the way of gifts. But he did get a flannel shirt made by his mother.
He considered this a very precious gift.
Despite the meager gifts, the Pack family had love and happiness in their home. They owned an organ which his older sister, Connie, could play beautifully. They had a family program on Christmas Eve with songs, poems, games, apples, and popcorn. His mother told the children faith-promoting stories.
The next morning, Clarence left their home with burlap wrapped around his feet. On horseback he rode 22 miles where his father and brother were working. He brought them a Christmas dinner and greetings from the family. Many tears of joy were shed at that family reunion.
He ends his story by saying,
"It does not take expensive gifts to have a Christlike Christmas."
If you are feeling the financial pressure of providing a "good" Christmas for your loved ones. Remember, that the greatest gift we can give is to share with others the first Christmas gift ever given.
This story comes from a talk titled "Christmas is More Than Gifts" that Clarence William Pack gave in the 1950s in Blackfoot, Idaho to his church congregation.