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I love celebrating this random little day in September for a few reasons: it’s officially fall (whether Mother Nature is on board yet in California or not), I’m an equal lover of apples and pumpkins during this time, and I am nostalgic for the Disney classic cartoon that taught me about this real-life man who walked our nation spreading apple seeds and the Good News.
More than two hundred years ago in Massachusetts, a boy named John Chapman was born on September 26th. He was a nature-lover from the get-go, appreciating all of God’s creation. He grew up in a crowded home near an apple orchard where he was responsible for picking and storing the apples to make ciders, vinegar, butter, and sauces. Once he was 18 years old, he left home with very little to carry, but he did bring a small sack of apple seeds. He planted his first nursery of apple seedlings and sold them one by one to setters who came out west – quite the entrepreneur! He continued to travel by foot, planting and sharing, until he was 70 years old!
Legends abound regarding how he traveled and lived his life in the wilderness. Whether they’re true or not doesn’t interest me – they make for entertaining stories. What I like my kids to get out of revisiting this “holiday” each year is that we can do small things for others. We can spread the Good News about Jesus’ love and kindness to anyone, anywhere. There is a monument in Indiana near where Johnny Appleseed passed away, and it reads, “He lived for others”.
There is an old Disney cartoon from 1948 made about Johnny that you can find on the Disney American Legends DVD. (It also has cartoons of Paul Bunyan, John Henry, and Casey Jones). You can also find clips of it on YouTube, but not the whole video, for copyright reasons. The most memorable part of the video for me was/is the song Johnny sings; it’s precious…
“The Lord is good to me, and so I thank the Lord
For givin’ me the things I need
The sun, and rain, and an apple seed.
Yes, He’s been good to me.
I owe the Lord so much, for everything I see.
I’m certain if it weren’t for Him,
There’d be no apples on this limb.
He’s been good to me.
Oh, here am I ‘neath the blue, blue sky a-doin’ as I please.
Singin’ with my feathered friends, hummin’ with the bees.
I wake up every day as happy as can be,
Because I know that with His care,
My apple trees, they will still be there.
Oh, the Lord is good to me.”
To celebrate Johnny’s birthday, I usually pack an applesauce in the kiddos’ lunch with a little note from “him”. For dessert, I sometimes make an apple pie. But I wanted to introduce you to my favorite cookies for this season and this day is the perfect day to make them!! They’re super soft (thanks to the shortening) and smell and taste like fall (thanks to the nutmeg).
Click here for a printable recipe for delicious Apple Cookies.
I also wanted to give you a very special recipe that near and dear to my family’s heart… my great grandmother’s recipe for cinnamon applesauce. It’s been passed down and the ladies of our family usually make it at Christmas because the cinnamon is so appropriate then. But this day is another great day to make it!
Click here for our family’s recipe for mouth-watering Cinnamon Applesauce.
Our favorite books about Johnny Appleseed:
Johnny Appleseed by Steven Kellogg
Johnny Appleseed (Penguin Young Readers, Level 3)
Johnny Appleseed, My Story (Step-Into-Reading, Step 3)
Other great little kids’ books about apples:
Big Red Apple (Hello Reader, Level 1)
I hope you have a deliciously juicy time celebrating Johnny Appleseed Day! Remember, the Lord’s been good to you, beloved.
“Taste and see that the Lord is good” Psalm 34:8 (NIV)