The first Christmas in Twin Falls, Idaho was one of the most interesting holiday seasons the Magic city has known. Twin Falls was a decidedly new town in 1904. There were not more than 75 dwellings in the vicinity because the first town lots were not sold until August of the same year. There was but one “sure enough” residence to give a touch of real civilization to the frontier scene. That residence was not finished until the middle of December, and it loomed above the sagebrush like a castle. Tents and shacks made up the town.
The Christmas season approached. “We must have a Christmas tree,” said the good women of Twin Falls. So they announced their determination, and straightaway a generous amount of money was subscribed for the purpose.
Early in December a small frame building was completed which was to do triple duty as a schoolhouse, public hall and church. Here the exercises were to be held. F. W. Eickhoff and attorney S. T. Hamilton were delegated to provide the Christmas tree. They secured one: a giant sagebrush over eight feet high and nearly nine feet wide. “How ridiculous! A sagebrush Christmas tree!” exclaimed many of the women in disgust, and the men were not complimented on their choice of this all-important feature of the exercises, until later.
This splendid specimen of the desert was festooned with strings of popcorn, red berries and tinsel cord., and decorated with fancy ornaments and candies, apples and oranges, while in lieu of netting with which to make Christmas stockings for the candy and nuts, pretty bags made of paper napkins were filled with these goodies, and daintily tied to the tree.
Christmas Eve came that Saturday night, December 24, 1904, and at the proper time men, women and children left their tent and shack homes and waded more than ankle-deep through–snow? No, indeed! Through fine, powdery dust to the little frame building. The one room was soon packed by some 200 adults and 100 children and the crowd extended out to where the sidewalk should have been.
Songs, recitations, dialogues and cantatas in turn entertained, and finally, in a hush of almost painful expectancy to the children, in came Santa Claus (C. Tripp) and the good things from the tree were distributed. And the crowd was so dense, and the air so warm that Santa, muffled closely in his furs, nearly fainted, and had to hasten his part in the exercise and hurry from the building as fast as he could through the crowd, to the fresh air, where, undoubtedly, he boarded his sleigh, spoke to his team of jackrabbits, and whirled away through the dust and sagebrush.
The affair provided a most surprising scene, where–just think of it!–a common sagebrush occupied a place of honor at the most auspicious event that had ever been held in the old sagebrush desert. And since that Christmas of 1904, on the Twin Falls tract, sagebrush has been prouder, smelled sweeter, looked prettier and held more tenaciously to life and earth than it ever did through all the eons of time before man entered the desert with grub hoe and torch. — Jessie Warrington

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