Legacies and Children Part Six-Foods of Farmer Boy

Legacies and Children Part Six-The Foods of Farmer Boy

It’s the time of year that many of us turn our minds toward thanksgiving and counting our blessings. We also tend to think a lot about food! Curl up with a copy of Farmer Boy written by Laura Ingalls Wilder about the childhood of her future husband and it won’t take you long to discover one thing—this boy loved to eat! Among the first eighty-three pages, food or the subject of meals comes up on no fewer than thirty-one pages!1 Almanzo reminds me of another little boy I know, a boy named Caleb.

Caleb loves to eat! One of my favorite pictures of him is of a time when his mom was feeding him, not long after Caleb had graduated from milk to solid food. I’ve never seen a more eager face! He ate every bite he could, including every morsel of the foods he didn’t particularly like. He might scrunch his face in protest, but he still ate everything that came his way.

Almanzo enjoyed a large variety of foods as well, and I think their tastes and flavors stayed with him long after the table was cleared. Take a look at this list of a few of the foods mentioned in the first few chapters of Farmer Boy, and note the words used to describe many of them:

  • Apple turnovers, “their plump crusts filled with melting slices of apple and spicy brown juice”
  • Ham, “the salty brown smell of frying ham made Almanzo’s stomach gnaw inside him”
  • Big, yellow cheeses
  • Large, brown cakes of maple sugar
  • Crusty loaves of fresh-baked bread
  • Baked beans “with a crisp bit of fat pork in the crumbling brown crust”
  • Sweet, mellow baked beans
  • Mealy boiled potatoes with brown ham-gravy
  • Velvety bread spread with sleek butter
  • Pale mashed turnips
  • Stewed yellow pumpkin
  • Plum preserves
  • Strawberry jam
  • Spiced watermelon-rind pickles
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Golden buckwheat cakes2

And we mustn’t forget one of the foods Almanzo mentioned more than almost any other—doughnuts. He ate them for breakfast, and he munched on them as snacks. He watched his mother set them to sizzling on baking day and helped himself to a fresh crisp dessert right off of the pan.

Food is just one of God’s abundant blessings that highlights a portion of His boundless creativity. Who else could imagine placing the potential for delicious chocolate inside a cocoa bean or the delicate meat of the coconut inside a shell you need a mallet to break open?

Despite the fact that it may feel like you’re cooking the same thing again, have you ever really stopped to consider the variety God has placed before us on tables around the world? You can visit Chicago or Jakarta, Indonesia, and find a common thread—food is part of the heritage and legacy that families share and pass on to future generations.

From French crème brûlée, to Mexican tortillas, to Polish poppy seed cakes, cultures around the world preserve elements of culture, history, and family in the foods they prepare. Chicagoans claim the birthplace of the first deep dish pizza.3 In Ethiopia, you might eat roasted chickpeas for a snack.4 In parts of India, you can enjoy flat bread called chapattis.5 And if you ever find yourself in the jungles of Myanmar (Burma), you might borrow a tip from Karen soldiers and make sticky rice inside a piece of bamboo.6

Both the blessings of children and the blessings of food can teach us many things. I’ve learned a lot from watching Caleb. I’ve learned there is great joy in diving into a meal, even if you make a mess in the process. I’ve learned there can be great joy in experiencing every day as a new adventure. I’ve learned it’s okay to rest your head from time to time and enjoy a good nap. I’ve also learned that persistence pays off—when Caleb was trying so hard to learn to crawl, it’s likely he never imagined that in the blink of an eye he would be running laps around the apartment and wearing out more than one adult in the process!

As he grows, Caleb will make his own food-related memories, much as Almanzo did. He’ll remember his mom making his favorite dessert in the kitchen. He’ll remember the almost unending wait until it was finally time to eat dinner. He may even remember what it was like to dive into his birthday cupcake face-first to taste the icing!

Every day when we wake up, we find ourselves surrounded by God’s abundant blessings. Let’s dive in to the feast He surrounds us with, the blessings of faith, family, friends, and even fried doughnuts. You might want to use a little restraint with the doughnuts, though!

And if you want to have a fun food conversation with your kids or grandkids this year, see if they can do some digging and find out what countries you might eat the following foods in:

  • dabo kolo
  • coconut
  • tiramisu
  • pisang goreng (banana fritters)
  • sahlab
  • patacones
  • chakchouka
  • baklava
  • chicken satay
  • pho
  • simit
  • ceviche


  1. Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder. A Harper Trophy Book, Harper & Row Publishers, 1971.
  2. Ibid.
  3. unos.com/about.php.
  4. Bold Believers in Ethiopia: A Kids of Courage Activity Book. Kids of Courage and The Voice of the Martyrs, Inc., 2008.
  5. Bold Believers in India: A Kids of Courage Activity Book, Revised Edition. Kids of Courage and The Voice of the Martyrs, Inc., 2007.
  6. From Burma to Michigan: Karen Women’s Folk Food and Stories compiled by Leslie Askwith. Printed and distributed by Christian Freedom International, www.christianfreedom.org.

Thankfulness – all year round


Thanksgiving is a wonderful reason to celebrate – a wonderful reason to come together with family and friends and remember and count all of our blessings. It saddens me to see the highly commercialized Christmas activities drowning out the Thanksgiving message each year.

Ephesians 5:19b-20 tells us to Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  (NIV)

I feel the Spirit calling on Christians/me to reflect on this verse a little longer and notice the word “always.” If we go to great extremes to be thankful, but only one day a year, perhaps we have missed the point altogether. In the earlier days of our country, thanksgiving happened naturally in November because it was the time of the harvest. Today some of us may be struggling to drum up reasons to feel thankful – whatever the reason.

Philippians 4:6 tells us to be thankful in all circumstances advising us to pray about everything that concerns us. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (NIV)

What if we resolved to nurture a spirit of thanksgiving into our lives on a daily basis? This kind of thinking could revolutionize our spirits and improve our mind-set and our testimonies to the world around us.

How might we cultivate this spirit of thanksgiving? Re-read Philippians 4:6 above. Also spend some time reading the Psalms. When we focus on who God is and how he goes with us every day of our lives, thankfulness tends to spill out.

It might also help to become deliberate about making this happen more often. What comes to my mind is a calendar to keep at your table or wherever you have your private worship time. A brief comment can be written into the space on the Thankfulness Calendar each day.

If your family is still with you, or only your spouse, you might set aside one day a week to focus together on what you are thankful for. I like the idea of a Thankful Thursday. Again, these expressions of thanksgiving can be written on a calendar, or perhaps a family Thankfulness Journal that is kept at the table where everyone’s comments can be recorded.

Focusing on everyday thanksgiving as a family also gives parents a window to teach their children how to express thankfulness as you discuss ways children can say thank you to others who have blessed them.

Sometimes our spirit of thanksgiving comes to us as a mixed bag. Perhaps we recognize the way God has blessed us through our trials. Here is a Facebook video that brings this concept out very nicely. Enjoy…

This is Shannon Abbott! We call her the Hallelujah Mommy!

Posted by 100.3 WNIC on Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A Thanksgiving Activity for Families

As families gather for Thanksgiving they often share lists of things for which they are thankful. The lists usually include favorite foods, pets, good health, family members, and of course, God’s love and provision.

Philippians 13


Here is a Thanksgiving activity that can be enjoyed by all ages. It focuses on several passages of Scripture and encourages children and teens to thank God for the specific ways family and friends demonstrate God’s love to them.

 I thank my God every time I remember you.

                                                            Philippians 1:3

 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7


  • A slip of paper with each person’s name
  • Scripture prompt slips
  • A container for each set of slips


_______ (name) I am thankful that you are patient when __________

_______ (name) I am thankful that you are kind when ____________

_______ (name) I am thankful that you do not get angry when ______

_______ (name) I am thankful that you protect me by _____________

_______ (name) I am thankful that you trust me when I ____________

_______ (name) I am thankful that you hope _________ with me


  • Read the verses above. Explain that God calls us as Christians to show His love to our family, friends, and those we meet. This activity encourages us to thank God and others for ways that our family shows His love to each other.
  • Place the name slips in one container and the Scripture prompt slips in a separate container.
  • Each person draws a Scripture prompt slip and a name.
  • After a few minutes to think, each person shares his or her thought of thankfulness for the individual who shows them God’s love.
  • Close in a prayer, thanking God for His love and the love that your family shows each other.

Does your family have a tradition of sharing thankfulness? I hope that you will comment below!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of our Christian Children’s Authors readers and their families –


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