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“And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on earth, and the top of it reached to heaven, and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.” -- Genesis 28:12

Since our early settlers found Christmas trees to be both expensive and scarce, out of necessity they turned to Scripture for help in coming up with a symbol that they could use in place of a tree.

Although lacking money, the pioneers were not short of ingenuity. They decorated a ladder from the barn as a symbol of Jacob’s dream.

Covered with seasonal greens and most likely strung with acorns, the ladder became a source of pleasure for the family celebrations and a tribute to the resourcefulness of man.

When the Santa Maria Historical Society held its annual open house Dec. 13, 1981, one of the items on display was a “Jacob’s Ladder” covered with seasonal greens and decorated with ornaments and small gifts. In addition to making some old-fashioned paper charms and baskets to adorn their tree, members brought antique toys to adorn their special ladder.

Greeting guests at the door were president and Mrs. Bob Rivers, Mr. and Mrs. Winston Wickenden and Mr. and Mrs. Alex Ontiveros.

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The group was entertained with a Christmas party held at the home of C.H. Clark in Guadalupe, with young people of many different nationalities singing carols of their native country. In addition, a “heavily loaded tree,” purchased with money taken up in a collection, was enjoyed by all.

The conclusion to this memorable fun-filled affair took place when jolly old St. Nicholas arrived and gave the children presents and candles.

And today, with more than 100 years having passed since the early pioneer Christmas party, to remember years gone by, friends that we’ve made and people who’ve made a difference in our lives, the wish remains the same: May the tidings of great joy be brought to all people and may peace reign on earth.

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