“It is the simple things that matter most.”
Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Ingalls have taught us so many wonderful, wholesome lessons over the years through the Little House on the Prairie books and television series which we can now relive on DVD. This is a look at the poignant life lessons we learned about changing our modern mindset and embracing a simpler life. We do this in homage to the way the Ingalls family lived their lives. Here are just a few of the things the Ingalls family teaches us to do every day:
The Ingalls family loved with intention. A deep, unconditional affection full of connection, grace, and belonging. They shared meaningful conversation, kind words, and spent a great deal of time just being together. The Ingalls had a close bond and a strong family. Their compassion and adoration poured out of the home and into the friendships and relationships that the Ingalls had with everyone. The Ingalls built their homestead and life out of love.
Gather ‘Round the Table
The family meal in the Ingalls family was a meaningful way to connect with one another on a given day. Gathering around the table for breakfast and a home-cooked supper was a way to bookend their days in ritual, conversation, and bonding. Many life lessons were learned around the Ingalls table. It’s the daily gathering together as a family, to share meals, tell stories, and discuss the day that bonds this family together in love. They could always count on shared meals to keep them close, and they would start and end their days with full bellies and full hearts.
Some recipes, like Laura’s Wedding Cake, took a long time to prepare by hand. Making these for special occasions — holidays like Thanksgiving — and sharing them with family and neighbors was a true gift. Even when she didn’t have much, Ma was willing to open her home and her table to others. Laura said, “Ma liked everything on her table to be pretty” in Little House in the Big Woods, and this was the case whether they had a lot of money or not.
Do Things By Hand
Pioneers did not have the modern conveniences that we have today and had to do most things by hand. A great example of this is making butter, harvesting food, milking the cows, making cheese, and making and mending clothes. But rather than complain or feel burdened by this, they enjoyed the time spent with family and the appreciation of hard work well rewarded.
The Ingalls made a point to be joyful in all things. No matter what they might be doing. Spending time with family and friends, cooking, gardening, and other chores where all done with good cheer. They did not place too much value in possessions, but rather in the happiness they felt by being with one another and helping people in need. One of the things we love about Ma (Caroline Ingalls) is how she modeled this attitude so well for her family.
Everyone in the Ingalls family loved to read books. Ma read her bible in her rocking chair, and read scriptures and stories aloud to her girls. Ma had been a teacher and taught her daughters for much of their early education before they settled near Walnut Grove school. Pa liked to read stories to the girls, too. Reading beside the fire carried the family through long winters when they were often homebound.
The family loved to dance and sing and play music; Pa with his fiddle and the girls and Ma singing. Pa’s fiddle plays an important role in every Little House book and throughout the “Little House on the Prairie” TV series. The music Pa played brought joy, inspiration, comfort, entertainment, and life to their cozy home. This is something that people still relate to today, using music to bring comfort in both good and trying times. In fact, many people say it’s one of their favorite things about Pa (Charles Ingalls).
Ma sold extra eggs to Mrs. Oleson at Oleson’s Mercantile to earn money or to get credit to purchase the things they needed. The girls helped to gather the eggs. In “The Richest Man in Walnut Grove,” the entire family is enterprising as they pull together as a team to contribute earnings to pay a debt at the Oleson’s store. Pa takes on odd jobs and works hard at multiple jobs in one day. Mary sews for Mrs. Whipple, and Laura and Carrie help Ma sell the potatoes. They work hard together and come up with lots of ways to be resourceful.
The Ingalls went to church every Sunday once they moved to Walnut Grove. Observing the Sabbath and taking one day a week to rest was a guiding tradition in the Ingalls’ home. This practice grounded them in their faith. The family prayed every day and sought the guidance of the Lord. This anchor kept the family close and guided them in making the right choices.
Write Hand-Written Letters
In the Ingalls’ time, the only way to communicate with loved ones far away was by letter and post. The letters took long journeys by horse or buggy to get to their destinations. The act of hand-writing a letter is a forgotten art. A letter can be cherished and treasured and kept as an heirloom to tell your family story and create a legacy. In fact, you can learn more about Laura’s actual letters in this article and purchase Little House on the Prairie™ greeting cards and note cards here.
The Ingalls built their homes by hand with little outside help. Pa chopped down the trees to make lumber and cut the logs to fit together just right. Ma even helped Pa lift the logs he had cut. No matter what the chore might be, or what needed to be done, the whole family worked as a team to make sure it was done and done right. They knew many pioneering skills that kept their family fed, safe, and sheltered.
Look On The Bright Side
The Ingalls’ optimism was contagious. They had a spirit of happiness and laughter and tried to look on the bright side of things, even when faced with seemingly overwhelming challenges. The family worked together to keep a bright outlook and appreciate one another.
The Ingalls family had a strong set of wholesome values that guided them. They were content with what they had, kind to others, and chose to look for the good in people. These values helped them live simple and purposeful lives and they were thankful for all of their blessings.
Friends and Community
As tight-knit as the Ingalls family was, often relying only on each other to tackle life’s challenges, they also saw the beauty in connecting with others in their community. Whether it was helping at the local school, working for Widow Thurman, or accepting help from others when things were tough, the community of friends and neighbors was vital. Each personality of Walnut Grove had an important role in the lives of the Ingalls family.
There are many more inspiring lessons that we learned from the Ingalls. What are the most valuable lessons you learned?
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