Monday, December 21, 2009
12.19- my heart being softened and realizing I was wrong and apologizing, principle of forgiveness, email, true love, B playing with her friend Amber so I could have a "meeting with Santa," Joaquin being so cute and loving his alone time with me at the store, Christmas shopping for kids is done!- only one more gift to get for my brother, fun Christmas tag, Christmas music-specifically "For Unto Us A Child Is Born" by Motab, actually sitting down to a homemade meal with my kids for dinner, Joaquin cracking me up during his bath and splashing me until I was soaked, exciting news from Gerald and Rachelle!, making Santa cookies with B and a gift for her Primary teacher for her Primary Christmas party tomorrow, Zpac antibiotics and how they are helping me feel better so much faster- cough is gone!!, meds, B sleeping in her own bed, wrapping is done (except for Roberts) and I'm all prepared for a good Sabbath tomorrow, a pretty productive day finally
12.18- 5 years of being married to the best man ever for time and all eternity, made it through another pay period, B & J playing with Joaquin's new car couch that he got with his giftcard from his Abuela Cande and having so much fun with it, prayer, sweet calls from my Dad (he told me I'm the best daughter ever and it made me cry- a good cry) and Alex, most amazing & patient husband ever, pizza and CM with hubby
12.17- Christmas cards and letters sent- whew!, super friendly postal lady and mailman, new g's!!, house cleaned and getting more organized, sweet 12 Days of Christmas story and scripture, nice lunch with hubby for our anniversary and talking about our 5 faves of each other for our 5 years, Patty watching our kids so we could go out, awesome VT who brought a sweet dinner for us, watching First Pres. Christmas Devotional as a family for Advent Activity, acting out scenes from Elf for Advent Activity
12.16- prayer, prayer, prayer, Sierra Mist Cranberry Splash, hubby home from work- weird circumstances but glad to have him home, hubby's love and care for me, surviving through the day- literally, an amazing Dr. who I know really cares about me, awesome YW activity that I worked so hard on and the girls worked so hard on- great Spirit and great activity, Sis. Rebarchik- she's amazing!!, getting a very generous gift in the mail from someone who loves us- tender mercy Christmas style, my Savior and testimony of Him, knowing I'm loved, getting mom's letter written and ready to go
12.15- my boys excitement for life when he wakes up at 7:30am on the dot every day, ham and biscuits for breakfast, internet and computer, house cleaned and laundry done, playin' with my kids, baking cookies with Baily and giving them to a neighbor as a Secret Santa and then caroling to Patty, cute new monster jammies for J, watching Monsters Inc. with the kiddos
12.14- Happy Birthday Tia Franci!!, leftover cold pizza, Sierra Mist Cranberry Splash, crud in my chest is finally breaking up- I may finally be getting better, hubby's french toast and bacon breakfast, reading 12 Days Of Christmas story and scripture as a family, decorating gingerbread house as a family, computer and internet, Joaquin's birthday package from Abuelita & Tia & giftcard from Abuela came in the mail and he was so excited!, Christmas gifts made for family & ordered, Supernanny and her tips, nice conversation with my Abuelita, broccoli cheese soup, cranberry juice, scalding hot shower
Story Day 8
The Noel Candle
by Clement C. Moore
It was Christmas Eve in Rheims, France, nearly five hundred years ago. The spires of the great cathedral
towered high in the sky over a throng of people who had gathered in a square before the church, celebrating
the joyous Noel. Laughing children darted through the crowd as groups of youths and maidens sang carols and
danced to the music of a lute and tambourine. Everywhere faces shone with such happiness, it did not seem
possible there could be, in all of Rheims, one sad and lonely heart.
Yet there were four. Three of them lived in a squalid old shed by the river. Though its outward appearance was
dismal, the inside was neat and clean. Its one room served as living room, dining room, bedroom and kitchen
for three people, but the rough stone floor was carefully swept, and the patched covers on the straw
mattresses in the corner were spotlessly clean. A rough table, broken chair, stool and rickety bench were the
only furniture in the room. In a far corner stood a small charcoal brazier whose weak flame served not only to
cook the meals but to warm the hut.
The one touch of beauty in the little room was supplied by a tiny shrine, built on a shelf at the rear wall. A few
field flowers in a bowl stood in front of it, and from the shelf hung a heavily embroidered scarlet sash which had
once held a knights' shield.
A young woman was bending over a small spinning wheel, a boy of seven was setting the table with their few
cracked dishes, and a girl a year or so older was stirring a kettle over the brazier. The lady, whose beauty
shone through in spite of her ragged clothing, was Madame la Contesse Marie de Malincourt, and the boy and
girl, her son and daughter, Louis and Jeanne.
As she worked, the lady was thinking sadly of Christmas only a year before, when everything had been so
different. Then she had lived in a great castle, and as on every Christmas Eve, she and her husband and
children had gone down to the castle gate to greet the crowd assembled. The old, the ailing, and the poor
would gather there, and the Mali courts would go into the crowd giving to each villager gifts of warm clothing,
healing herbs and food. Even Louis and Jeanne would give something from their own toys to the village
Then war had swept over their happy valley; the castle had been attacked and robbed. Lady Marie's husband
had been led away in chains while she and the children had fled down a secret passageway out in the night
and away to the village. She found it deserted, the villagers frightened away by the attackers.
During the months that followed, the three had wandered along the highway trading away their belongings bit
by bit in return for food and lodging. Even Lady Mari's coat had gone to the wife of a rich merchant, and the
pretty clothing of Louis and Jeanne had been replaced by coarse peasant wear. Only one thing remained of
their belongings - the cover of her husband's shield, which little Louis had brought from the castle that dreadful
night. "Father gave it to me to keep until he comes back," he said and through all the terrors of their flight he
had clung to it. It was dear to all of them, for it was their only reminder of their father and the life they had
"Mother," said Jeanne suddenly, interrupting her mother's thoughts, "it is Christmas tonight."
"Yes, sighed Lady Maire, "but there will be no toys or sweets for you and little Louis the Noel."
"We don't need them," the children answered. "We have you, Mother, and we can keep Christmas in our heart.
Their mother looked up at them and smiled. "Yes, though life is hard," she said, "we still have each other, and
even though we miss your father, I'm sure there are others in Rheims tonight that miss their lived ones also. I
just wish we had something to give the poor as we once did..." A thoughtful silence filled the room.
"Mother," Jeanne said excitedly, "I know something we can give." As she talked, she picked up the small tallow
candle from the table and hurried to one window of the hut.
"See," she went on, "I will put it on the sill and perhaps someone who passes, someone like ourselves, will be
happier because of this little gift of light. There - see how it shines out on the snow," and she stood back to
survey her work.
"You are a good child, Jeanne," said Lady Marie, then smiling gently, she resumed her work.
Down in the great square, among all the lights and gaiety, was another sad heart. It beat in the breast of a little
lad of nine, a boy in ragged clothes whose bare feet were thrust into clumsy wooden clogs. He was utterly
alone in the world, without money or friends, cold hungry and miserable. When he tried to tell his story to some
of the milling people around him, no one took any interest in him, other than to frown at him or elbow him out of
At last, in utter despair, he began to tramp the streets, stopping now and then to gaze at the splendid houses
and to seek help. But there was no welcome in any of them for the poor lonely child.
It was dark in the streets of Rheims now, and the air was growing colder, but the little child trampled on, trying
desperately to find shelter before the night closed in. At last, far off down by the river, he saw a tiny gleam of
light appear suddenly at a window and he hurried toward it. As he neared it, the boy saw it was only a small
tallow candle at the window of a hovel, the poorest hut in all Rheims, but the steady light brought a sudden
glow to his heart and he ran forward and knocked at the door.
It was quickly opened by a little girl, and at once two other people had risen to greet him. In another moment
he found himself seated on a stool beside the charcoal brazier. The little girl was warming one of his cold
hands in her palms, while her brother was holding the other, and a beautiful woman, kneeling at his feet, drew
off the wooden shoes and rubbed his icy feet. When he was thoroughly warmed, the little girl dished up into
three bowls and a cracked cup the stew which had been simmering on the fire. There was only a little of it, but
she passed the fullest bowl to the stranger.
After a word of blessing, they ate their stew, and never had the thick soup tasted so rich and so satisfying. As
they finished, a sudden flowing light filled the room, greater than the brightness of a thousand candles. There
was a sound of angel voices, and the stranger had grown so radiant they could hardly bear to look at him.
"Thou, with thy little candle, have lighted the Christ child on his way to Heaven," said their guest, his hand on
the door latch. "This night your dearest prayer shall be answered," and in another instant he was gone.
The countess and her children fell to their knees and prayed, and there they still were many minutes later when
a knight in armor gently pushed open the door and entered the hut.
"Mari! Jeanne! Louis!" he cried in a voice of love. "Don't you know me after all these weary months of prison
and barrel? How I have searched for you!"
Immediately his family clustered around him with embraces and kisses.
"But, Father, how did you find us here?" cried little Louis at last.
"A ragged lad I met on the highway told me where you live," answered the knight.
"The Christ child," said Marie reverently, and told him the story.
And so, forever after, they and all their descendants, have burned a candle in the window on the eve of Noel,
to light the solitary Christ child on his way.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Story Day 7
Legend of the Candy Cane
A candy maker in Indiana wanted to make a candy that would be a
witness, so he made the Christmas Candy Cane. He incorporated several
symbols for the birth, ministry, and death of Jesus Christ.
He began with a stick of pure white, hard candy.
White to symbolize the Virgin Birth and the sinless nature of Jesus, and
hard to symbolize the Solid Rock, the foundation of the church, and
firmness of the promises of God.
The candy maker made the candy in the form of a *J* to represent the
precious name of Jesus, who came to earth as our savior. It also
represents the staff of the *Good Shepherd* with which He reaches down
into the ditches of the world to lift out the fallen lambs who, like all sheep,
have gone astray.
Thinking that the candy was somewhat plain, the candy maker stained it
with red stripes. He used the tree small stripes to show the stripes of the
scourging Jesus received by which we are healed. The large red stripe
was for the blood shed by Jesus on the Cross so that we could have the
promise of eternal life, if only we put our faith and trust in Him.
Unfortunately, the candy became known as a Candy cane - a
meaningless decoration seen at Christmas time. But the meaning is still
there for those who "have eyes to see and ears to hear".
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Yes and finished! (Kinda)
2. Tell me about one of your special traditions.
We are just getting started on figuring out what traditions we want to keep in our family. We did the Advent Calendar this year and it's been great and I think it will prove to be a great tradition over the years. Another one is that we open one gift on Christmas Eve- pj's and a book. Traditions I'm going to miss this year are going to the Zoo Lights with Gerald and Rachelle and Christmas at midnight with tamales and gifts with the Dominguez family. I have also missed the annual Willis Taco Party so much.
3. When do you put up your tree?
Day after Thanksgiving- at least that's the plan from here on out.
4. Are you a Black Friday shopper?
I became one this year and I LOVED it! Definitely plan on doing it from here on out.
5. Do you travel at Christmas or stay home?
When we lived in AZ we usually went to Show Low for Christmas. This year we'll be home- but at least we'll all be together;)
6. What is your funniest Christmas memory?
7. What is your favorite Christmas movie of all time?
There are so many! I would have to probably say Elf or Home Alone.
8. Do you do your own Christmas baking? What's your favorite treat?
Most of the time. My favorite is probably the pretzels I made with my cousin Becca- caramel chocolate dipped pretzels. I miss you Becca! (Lori I can't believe you didn't mention your amazing cinnamon rolls- those were always my fave. You too Becca.) I'm going to attempt to make cinnamon rolls and homemade pies with homemade pie crusts this year so we'll see how that goes.
9. Fake or real tree?
Robert used to insist on a real tree but I finally put my foot down and got a fake pre-lit one this year ($25 at Black Friday sale baby!). I love the smell of a real one but hate having to water it every day, worry about it catching on fire and cleaning up after it.
10. What day does the actual panic set in to get it all done?
11. Are you still wrapping presents on Christmas Eve?
Just the Santa ones;)
12. What is your favorite family fun time at Christmas?
I agree with Lori- anytime I'm with my family it's my favorite family fun time. Probably when I'm in Show Low with my siblings, up late after a day of gifts and lots of eating, playing board games and laughing hysterically and nibbling on more good food. Man I miss my Show Low fam!!
13. What Christmas Craft do you like the best?
I'm so not a crafty person. But I had fun making ornaments with Baily this year for one of our Advent activities. I had fun making special gifts for our YW too- but probably more because I was doing it with 2 of my favorite women and socializing;)
14. Christmas music? Yes or no, and if yes, what is your favorite song?
YES, YES, YES!!, my favorites would be O Holy Night by Josh Groban, Carol of the Bells by Transiberian Orchestra and For Unto Us A Child is Born by Motab- among the many:)
15. When do you plan to finish all your shopping?
I'm done- just waiting for my packages to come hopefully when they're supposed to!
I tag Becca, Karen, Beau & Eben (that means both of you each do one!), Malissa, Julie, Mayra and anyone else who wants to relish in some Christmas memories!!
Day 6--3 Nephi 1:12-21
Story Day 5
TEACH THE CHILDREN
Just last Monday night I had a strange visitor. This is how it happened. I had just finished the household chores for the night and
was preparing to go to bed when I heard a noise in the front of the house. I opened the door of the front room, and to my
surprise, a special visitor stepped out from behind the Christmas tree. He placed his fingers over his lips so I would not cry out.
"What are you doing?" I started to ask, but the words choked up in my throat as I saw that he had tears in his eyes. He then
answered me with the simple statement of "Teach the children." I was puzzled. What did he mean? He anticipated my question
and with one quick movement, brought a miniature toy bag from behind the tree. As I stood there in my night shirt bewildered, the
visitor said again, "Teach the children." My perplexed expression still showed in the near darkness. "Teach them the old meaning
of Christmas*the meaning that Christmas now-days has forgotten." I started to say, "How can I?" when the visitor reached into
the toy bag and pulled out a brilliant shiny star. "Teach the children the star was the heavenly sign of promise long ago. God
promised a Savior for the world and a sign of the fulfillment of his promise. The countless shining stars at night*one for each
man*now show the burning hope of all mankind." The visitor gently laid the star upon the fireplace mantle and drew forth from the
bag a glittering red Christmas ornament. "Teach the children red is the first color of Christmas. It was first used by the faithful
people to remind them of the blood which was shed for all people by the Savior. Christ gave his life and shed his blood that every
man might have God's gift to all*eternal life. Red is deep, intense, vivid*it is the greatest color of all. It is the symbol of the gift of
God." As the visitor was twisting and pulling another object out of his bag, I heard the kitchen clock begin to strike twelve. I
wanted to say something but he went right on. "Teach the children," he said, as the twisting and pulling suddenly dislodged a
small Christmas tree from the depths of the toy bag. He placed it before the mantel and gently hung the red ornament. Here was
the second color of Christmas. "The pure color of the stately fir tree remains green all year round," he said. "This depicts the
everlasting hope of mankind. Green is the youthful, hopeful, abundant color of nature. All the needles point heavenward*symbolic
of man's returning thoughts toward heaven. The great, green tree has been man's best friend. It has sheltered him, warmed him,
made beauty for him, formed his furniture. The visitor's eyes were beginning to twinkle now as he stood there. Suddenly I heard
a soft tinkling sound. As it grew louder, it seemed like the sound of long ago. "Teach the children, that as the lost sheep are found
by the sound of the bell, so should it ring for man to return to the fold*it means guidance and return. It further signifies that all are
precious in the eyes of the Lord. Who is there among you if his son ask for bread would give him a stone?" As the soft sharp
sound of the bell faded into the night, the visitor drew forth a candle. He placed it on the mantle and the soft glow from its tiny
flame cast an erie glow about the darkened room. Odd shapes in the room slowly danced and weaved upon the walls. "Teach the
children," whispered the visitor, "that the candle shows man's thanks for the star of long ago; it's small light is the mirror of the
star light. At first candles were placed on the Christmas tree*they were like many glowing stars shining against the dark green.
Safety now has removed the candles from the tree and the colored lights have taken over in that remembrance." The visitor now
had turned the small Christmas tree lights on and picked up a gift from under the tree. He pointed to the large bow ribbon and
said, "A bow is placed on a present to remind us of the spirit of the brotherhood of man. We should remember that the bow is tied
as man should be tied*all of us together, with the bonds of good will toward each other. Good will forever is the message of the
bow." Now my mind began to wonder what else the visitor might have in his bag. Instead of reaching in his bag, he slung it over
his shoulder and began to reach up on the Christmas tree. I though he was hungry as he reached for a candy cane purposely
placed high on the tree. He unfastened it and reached out toward me with it. "Teach the children that the candy cane represents
the shepherd's crook. The crook on the staff helps bring back the strayed sheep of the fold. The candy cane is the symbol that we
are our brother's keepers." The visitor then paused. He seemed to realize that he should be on his way. As he looked about the
room a feeling of satisfaction shined on his face. He read wonderment in my eyes and I am sure he sensed my admiration for this
night. He was his old self as he approached the front door. The twinkle in his eyes gave the visitor away. I knew he wasn't
through yet. He reached into his bag and brought forth a large holly wreath. He placed it at the door and said, "Please teach the
children the wreath symbolizes the eternal nature of love; it never ceases, stops, or ends. It is one continuous round of affection.
The wreath does double duty. It is made of many things and in many colors. It should remind us of many things of Christmas.
Please teach the children." I pondered and wondered and thrilled with delight as I sat and viewed all those symbols that night. I
dozed as I sat in the soft candle light, and my thoughts were of the visitor and all he made right. To give and to help, to love and
to serve, are the best things of life, all men can deserve. Jesus the Christ Child as small as an elf, is the very best symbol of
Christmas itself. He's the sign of the gift of love and of life, the ending of evil, the ceasing of strife. The message to me on this
pre-Christmas night has opened a treasure of deepest insight.
The one thing on earth we all ought to do, is the teaching of children the right and the true.
Story – Day 6
RUDOLPH- That Amazing Reindeer
On a December night in Chicago several years ago, a little girl climbed onto her father's
lap and asked a question. It was a simple question, asked in children's curiosity, yet it had
a heart-rending effect on Robert May. "Daddy," four-year old Barbara asked, "Why isn't
my Mommy just like everybody else's mommy?"
Bob May stole a glance across his shabby two room apartment. On a couch lay his young
wife, Evelyn, racked with cancer. For two years she had been bedridden; for two years,
all Bob's income and smaller savings had gone to pay for treatments and medicines. The
terrible ordeal already had shattered two adult lives. Now Bob suddenly realized the
happiness of his growing daughter was also in jeopardy. As he ran his fingers through
Barbara's hair, he prayed for some satisfactory answer to her question.
Bob May knew only too well what it meant to be "different." As a child he had been
weak and delicate. With the innocent cruelty of children, his playmates had continually
goaded the stunted, skinny lad to tears. Later at Dartmouth, from which he was graduated
in 1926, Bob May was so small that he was always being mistaken for someone's little
brother. Nor was his adult life much happier. Unlike many of his classmates who floated
from college into plush jobs, Bob became a lowly copy writer for Montgomery Ward, the
big Chicago mail order house. Now at 33 Bob was deep in debt, depressed and sad.
Although Bob did not know it at the time, the answer he gave the tousled haired child on
his lap was to bring him to fame and fortune. It was also to bring joy to countless
thousands of children like his own Barbara. On that December night in the shabby
Chicago apartment, Bob cradled his little girl's head against his shoulder and began to tell
"Once upon a time there was a reindeer named Rudolph, the only reindeer in the world that had a big red nose. Naturally people called him Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer." As Bob went on to tell about Rudolph, he tried desperately to communicate to Barbara the knowledge that, even though some creatures of God are strange and different, they often enjoy the miraculous power to make others happy.
Rudolph, Bob explained, was terribly embarrassed by his unique nose. Other reindeer laughed at him; his mother and father and sister were mortified too. Even Rudolph wallowed in self pity.
"Well," continued Bob, "one Christmas Eve, Santa Claus got his team of husky reindeer - Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, and Vixen ready for their yearly trip around the world. The entire reindeer community assembled to cheer these great heroes on their way. But a terrible fog engulfed the earth that evening, and Santa knew that the mist was so thick he wouldn't be able to find any chimneys.
Suddenly Rudolph appeared, his red nose glowing brighter than ever. Santa sensed at once that here was the answer to his perplexing problem. He led Rudolph to the front of the sleigh, fastened the harness and climbed in. They were off! Rudolph guided Santa safely to every chimney that night. Rain and fog, snow and sleet; nothing bothered Rudolph, for his bright nose penetrated the mist like a beacon.
And so it was that Rudolph became the most famous and beloved of all the reindeer. The huge red nose he once hid in shame was now the envy of every buck and doe in the reindeer world. Santa Claus told everyone that Rudolph had saved the day and from that Christmas, Rudolph has been living serenely and happy."
Little Barbara laughed with glee when her father finished. Every night she begged him to
repeat the tale until finally Bob could rattle it off in his sleep. Then, at Christmas time he
decided to make the story into a poem like "The Night Before Christmas" and prepare it
in bookish form illustrated with pictures, for Barbara's personal gift. Night after night,
Bob worked on the verses after Barbara had gone to bed for he was determined his
daughter should have a worthwhile gift, even though he could not afford to buy one...
Then as Bob was about to put the finishing touches on Rudolph, tragedy struck. Evelyn
May died. Bob, his hopes crushed, turned to Barbara as chief comfort. Yet, despite his
grief, he sat at his desk in the quiet, now lonely apartment, and worked on "Rudolph"
with tears in his eyes.
Shortly after Barbara had cried with joy over his handmade gift on Christmas morning,
Bob was asked to an employee's holiday party at Montgomery Wards. He didn't want to
go, but his office associates insisted. When Bob finally agreed, he took with him the
poem and read it to the crowd. First the noisy throng listened in laughter and gaiety. Then
they became silent, and at the end, broke into spontaneous applause. That was in 1938.
By Christmas of 1947, some 6,000,000 copies of the booklet had been given away or
sold, making Rudolph one of the most widely distributed books in the world. The demand
for Rudolph sponsored products, increased so much in variety and number that educators
and historians predicted Rudolph would come to occupy a permanent place in the
Through the years of unhappiness, the tragedy of his wife's death and his ultimate success
with Rudolph, Bob May has captured a sense of serenity. And as each Christmas rolls
around he recalls with thankfulness the night when his daughter, Barbara's questions
inspired him to write the story.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Story - Day 4
The Christmas We Gave Away
By Marilyn Ellsworth Swinyard
The Christmas I remember best began with tragedy. It happened at 6 a.m. on one of those crisp
Idaho Falls mornings the day before Christmas. Our neighbors, the Jesse Smith family, slept
peacefully in their two-story home. The baby, barely six months old, was in a crib next to her parents'
room, and the three older children were upstairs.
Suddenly something jarred Jesse from his sleep. He thought he smelled smoke. Could a spark from
the torch he'd defrosted the frozen water pipes with the day before have started a fire in the
basement? Still half asleep, he stumbled to the bedroom door and flung it open. Clouds of black
smoke poured into the room. "Lorraine!" he yelled. "Get the baby!" He ran toward the stairs and his
sleeping children. The smoke was thicker as he gasped for breath. "Rick! Tom! Wake up!" The boys
scrambled out of their beds. "Run, boys!" Tom grabbed his younger brother's hand, and they raced
down the smoke-filled stairway to safety. His daughter's room was next. As Jesse groped through the
heavy shroud of gray, he called, "Cindy! Cindy! Where are you?"
"Here, Daddy, here!" He followed the frightened cries, scooped up his daughter in his arms, and with
his hand over her face, felt his way out the room and down through a narrow path of searing flames.
They coughed, choked, gasped for breath, until they at last stumbled out the door where a relieved
wife and three children stood shivering in the snow.
Now the family looked to the smoke and flames pouring out the roof of their home, the home that the
night before had held all their earthly treasures. It had also held a promise of Christmas, mulled cider,
homemade candy, and stockings waiting to be filled. They stood huddled in their nightclothes,
barefoot in the biting cold, and watched their Christmas burn up along with their house.
The spell was broken by the sound of sirens piercing the icy air. Firemen leaped from the huge red
trucks and turned their powerful hoses on the blaze. Seconds later, the bishop of the Smiths' ward
drove up, bundled the family into his car, and took them to a home the ward elder’s quorum had just
completed as a fund-raising project. They were not to witness the firemen's hopeless battle with the
flames. For when the trucks finally pulled away, this time in silence, nothing stood of their house but
its charred skeleton outlined against the sky.
And tomorrow was Christmas. At our house, we were putting the last secret wrappings on the
presents, making the last batch of popcorn for popcorn balls to go in our Christmas stockings. We
three children were attempting dubious harmony with our favorite carols and breaking into giggles at
Then Dad came in with the news. We sat with serious faces listening to him tell of the fire, the narrow
escape, the house where the Smiths were spending Christmas Eve.
Why? Mother said. Why did this happen, just at Christmas? It isn't fair. They had children, just the
same ages as ours, she said. Jesse and Dad were the closest friends; they even joked that they were
so close they wore the same size shirt. The same size shirt! "Bill," Mother began hesitantly, "would
you mind terribly if we gave Jesse one of the shirts I bought you for Christmas? You wear the same
size ..." A hush fell on us all. We all seemed to be thinking the exact same thing. "I've got it!" my tenyear-
old brother shouted. "We'll give the Smiths a Christmas! A Christmas for Christmas!" "Where
could we get one?" my inquisitive little sister asked. "We'll give them ours," the others chorused in.
"Of course! We'll give them ours!" The house rang with excited voices, until Dad's stern command
silenced us. "Hold it! Let's make sure we all want to do this. Let's take a vote. All in favor say aye."
"AYE!" chorused back at him. "All opposed?" was met with silence.
The hours that followed are ones we will never forget. First we sat around the tree and handed out
presents. Instead of opening them, the giver would divulge their contents so the label could be
changed to the appropriate Smith family member. My heart fell when Dad handed Kevin a box
wrapped in gold foil and green ribbon. "It's a baseball glove, son," Dad told him, and a flash of
disappointment crossed Kevin's face. I knew how he'd longed for that glove, and Dad wanted to say,
"You keep it, son," but Kevin smiled as if he'd read our thoughts. "Thanks, Dad. It's just what Stan
wanted, too," he re-plied.
"Look, here's the recipe holder I made for you, that is, for Sister Smith." We signed all the tags "From
Santa," and the activity that followed would have put his workshop elves to shame.
They had presents, but what about a Christmas dinner? The turkey was cooked, pies baked, the
carrots and celery prepared, and then all packed in a box. The Christmas stockings must be stuffed.
Dad got a length of clothesline and some clothespins to hang the stockings with, but what about a
tree? We looked at ours. Could we really part with it? "I know," Dad volunteered. "Let's decorate it
with things they'll need." And so more things were added to the tree: a tube of toothpaste tied with red
ribbon, a razor, comb, bars of soap nestled in the branches. Finally it was all ready.
It was a strange procession that silently paraded through the dark streets of Idaho Falls that night.
Father led the way carrying a fully deco-rated tree. Mother followed with a complete Christmas dinner,
down to the last dish of cranberry sauce. The three of us children pulled wagons and a sled piled with
boxes of gifts. We waited until the last light was out in the Smiths' borrowed home, and then Mom and
Dad stealthily carried each item in the door. When the last stocking had been hung, we turned again
All the way home I worried about what waited for my family at our home. What if the others were
disappointed? All that was left were a few pine needles and paper scraps. I couldn't have been more
wrong. The minute we were back inside we were more excited than ever. Every pine needle and
paper scrap was a reminder of the magic of the evening, and we hadn't taken that to the Smiths. It
was in our home as real as if you could see it. A happier family never went to bed on a Christmas
Eve, and the next morning the magic was still there. For our celebration we wrote a promise to each
person on a card and presented it around a spruce branch tied in a red ribbon.
"One shoe shine. To Father. Love Kevin." "This is good for two turns doing the evening dishes.
Love, your husband Bill." And so it went.
Our Christmas dinner consisted of scrambled eggs and bacon, toast and sliced oranges. Somehow,
I don't remember a better one. And I know we sang our carols that night with the same
unconventional harmony, but it sounded sweeter than angels to me.
"Oh, Mommy," said my small sister as she snuggled up for her bedtime Christmas story, "I like to
give Christmases away." Tears blurred the book in my mother's hands, because she knew that none
of us would ever forget this Christmas, the one when we gave our best gift. And as she read the story
of the Baby born in a manger, it seemed our gift was but a small tribute to him who gave his best gift,
his Son to us.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
I know this is way too dark but I have to share. For our Advent Calendar Activity for Day 15 we caroled at Grandma's. Baily was so excited about it but must have gotten a little bit of stage fright because you could barely hear her when we sang. But afterward when we got home she was so proud and said that was so fun!
The Story of the Three Trees
Once there were three trees on a hill in the woods.They were discussing there hopes and dreams
when the first tree said," Someday I hope to be a treasure chest. I could be filled with gold,
silver, and precious gems. I could be decorated with inticate carving and everyone would see the
Then the second tree said," Someday I will be a mighty ship. I will take Kings and Queens
across the waters and sail to the corners of the world. Everyone will feel safe in me, because of
the strength of my hull."
Finally the third tree said, "I want to grow to be the tallest and the straightest tree in the forest.
People will come to see me on top of the hill and look up to my branches and think of the
heavens and God and how close to them I am reaching. I will be the greatest tree of all time and
people will always remember me."
After a few years of praying that their dreams would come true. A group of woodsmen came
upon the tree.When one came to the first he said," I think I should be able to sell the wood to a
carpenter"... and he began cutting it down. The tree was happy, because he new the carpenter
would make him into a treasure chest.
At the second tree the woodsmen said," This looks like a strong tree, I should be able to sell it
to a shipyard."The second tree was happy because he knew he was on his way to become a
When the woodsmen came upon the third tree, the tree was frightened because knew that if
they cut him down, his dreams would not come true. One of the woodsmen said, "I don't need
anything special from my tree, so I'll take this one," and cut it down.
When the first tree arrived at the carpenters, he was made into a feed box for the animals. He
was then placed in a barn and filled with hay. This was not at all what he prayed for.
The second tree was cut and made into a small fishing boat. His dreams of becoming a mighty
ship and carrying Kings had come to an end.
The third was cut into large pieces and left alone in the dark.
The years went by, and the trees forgot about there dreams. Then one day, a woman and man
came to the barn. She gave birth and they placed the baby on the hay in the feed box that was
made for the first tree.The man wished that he could have made a crib for the baby, but this
manger would have to do. The tree could feel the importance of this event and knew that he
held the greatest treasure of all time.
Years later, a group of men got in the fishing boat made from the second tree. One of them was
tired and went to sleep.While they were on the water, a great storm arose and the tree didn't
think it was strong enough to keep the men safe. The men woke the sleeping man, and he stood
and said, "PEACE", and the storm stopped. At this time, the tree knew that he had carried the
King of Kings in its boat.
Finally, someone came and got the third tree. It was carried through the streets as people
mocked the man who was carring it. When they came to a stop, the man was nailed to the tree
and raised in the air to die at the top of the hill.When Sunday came, the tree came to realize
that it was strong enough to stand at the top of the hill and be close to GOD as possible, because
Jesus was crucified on it.
The moral of the story is that when things don't seem to be going your way, always know that
God has a plan for you. If you place your trust in Him, he will give you great gifts. Each of the
trees got what they wanted, just not in the way they imagined. We don't always know what God's
plans are for us. We just know that His ways are not our ways, But His ways are always best.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
It was only five days before Christmas. The spirit of the season hadn't yet caught up with me, even though cars packed the parking lot of our Houston area Target Shopping Center. Inside the store, it was worse. Shopping carts and last minute shoppers jammed the aisles. Why did I come today? I wondered. My feet ached almost as much as my head. My list contained names of several people who claimed they wanted nothing but I knew their feelings would be hurt if I didn't buy them anything. Buying for someone who had everything and deploring the high cost of items, I considered gift-buying anything but fun. Hurriedly, I filled my shopping cart with last minute items and proceeded to the long checkout lines. I picked the shortest but it looked as if it would mean at least a 20 minute wait. In front of me were two small children - a boy of about 10 and a younger girl about 5. The boy wore a ragged coat. Enormously large, tattered tennis shoes jutted far out in front of his much too short jeans. He clutched several crumpled dollar bills in his grimy hands. The girl's clothing resembled her brother's. Her head was a matted mass of curly hair. Reminders of an evening meal showed on her small face. She carried a beautiful pair of shiny, gold house slippers. As the Christmas music sounded in the store's stereo system, the girl hummed along off-key but happily. When we finally approached the checkout register, the girl carefully placed the shoes on the counter. She treated them as though they were a treasure. The clerk rang up the bill. "That will be $6.09," she said. The boy laid his crumpled dollars atop the stand while he searched his pockets. He finally came up with $3.12. "I guess we will have to put them back, " he bravely said. "We will come back some other time, maybe tomorrow." With that statement, a soft sob broke from the little girl. "But Jesus would have loved these shoes, " she cried. "Well, we'll go home and work some more. Don't cry. We'll come back," he said. Quickly, I handed $3.00 to the cashier. These children had waited in line for a long time. And, after all, it was Christmas. Suddenly a pair of arms came around me and a small voice said, "Thank you Sir." "What did you mean when you said Jesus would like the shoes?" I asked. The small boy answered, "Our mommy is sick and going to heaven. Daddy said she might go before Christmas to be with Jesus." The girl spoke, "My Sunday school teacher said the streets in heaven are shiny gold, just like these shoes. Won't mommy be beautiful walking on those streets to match these shoes?" My eyes flooded as I looked into her tear-streaked face. "Yes" I answered, "I am sure she will." Silently I thanked God for using these children to remind me of the true spirit of giving. Christmas is not about the amount of money paid, nor the amount of gifts purchased, nor trying to impress friends and relatives. Christmas is about the love in your heart to share with those as Jesus Christ has shared with each of us. Christmas is about the Birth of Jesus whom God sent to show the world how much he really loves us. Please show this love as we think of the upcoming season.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Our activity for Day 12 was to make a gingerbread house so I was so excited when my Aunt Holly gave us 2 of them. She is so sweet. We only decorated one for now and Robert did most of the constructing. He did a swell job. It turned out pretty cute. I love gingerbread houses. They're so cozy and happy looking!
Day 13 Activity was to start the scriptural and story 12 days of Christmas. I will be including each story and scripture for each day for the next 12 days leading up to Christmas. These scriptures will take place of our regular family scripture study each day and hopefully draw us closer to Christ and focus on the true meaning of Christmas. I sure love this time of year!
STORY – DAY 1
The Christmas Orange
Sometimes it is easy to forget the true meaning of Christmas. The busy traditions of the season and the appealing advertisements for material goods can leave the pure and simple truths far, far behind. Jake was nine years old with tousled brown hair with blue eyes as bright as a heavenly angel. For as long as Jake could remember, he had lived within the walls of a poor orphanage. He was just one of ten children supported by what meager contributions the orphan home could obtain in a continuous struggle seeking donations from townsfolk. There was very little to eat, but at Christmas time, there always seemed to be a little more than usual to eat, the orphanage seemed a little warmer, and it was time for a little holiday enjoyment. But more than this, there was the Christmas orange! Christmas was the only time of year that such a rare treat was provided and it was treasured by each child like no other food admiring it, feeling it, prizing it and slowly enjoying each juicy section. Truly, it was the light of each orphan's Christmas and their best gift of the season. How joyful would be the moment when Jake received his orange! Unknown to him, Jake had somehow managed to track a small amount of mud on his shoes through the front door of the orphanage, muddying the new carpet. He hadn't even noticed. Now it was too late and there was nothing he could do to avoid punishment. The punishment was swift and unrelenting. Jake would not be allowed his Christmas orange! It was the only gift he would receive from the harsh world he lived in, yet after a year of waiting for his Christmas orange, is was to be denied him. Tearfully, Jake pleaded that he be forgiven and promised never to track mud into the orphanage again, but to no avail. He felt hopeless and totally rejected. Jake cried into his pillow all that night and spent Christmas Day feeling empty and alone. He felt that
the other children didn't want to be with a boy who had been punished with such a cruel punishment. Perhaps they feared he would ruin their only day of happiness. Maybe, he reasoned, the gulf between him and his friends existed because they feared he would ask for a little of their oranges. Jake spent the day upstairs, alone, in the unheated dormitory. Huddled under his only blanket, he read about a family marooned on an island. Jake wouldn't mind spending the rest of his life on an isolated island, if he could only have a real family that cared about him. Bedtime came, and worst of all, Jake couldn't sleep. How could he say his prayers? How could there be a God in Heaven that would allow a little soul such as his, to suffer so much all by himself? Silently, he sobbed for the future of mankind that God might end the suffering in the world, both for himself and all others like him. As he climbed back into bed from the cold, hard floor, a soft hand touched Jake's shoulder, startling him momentarily and an object was silently placed in his hands. The giver disappeared into the darkness, leaving Jake with what, he did not immediately know! Looking closely at it in the dim light, he saw that it looked like an orange! Not a regular orange, smooth and shiny, but a special orange, very special. Inside a patched together peal were the segments of nine other oranges, making one whole orange for Jake! The nine other children in the orphanage had each donated one segment of their own precious oranges to make a whole orange as a gift for Jake. Sharing what we truly value is the true spirit of Christmas. Our Heavenly Father gave us His beloved Son. May we, like the children in the orphanage, find ways to share His love with others less blessed.
Day 1 Scripture
Day 1--Luke 1 26-38 (Start reading on December 14)
As much as I try to avoid my children's birthdays, I can't. They just grow up too darn fast. Yesterday my sweet Joaquin turned 2. I woke up pretty sick so we ended up missing church. Luckily though we only had a small little family party planned so it was pretty easy to handle being sick. Plus Robert was home to help so that was great. We had Joaquin's favorite food- pizza. And he was pretty insistent that his cake be a football cake so that's just what he got. I think he kept wondering all day why everyone kept telling him Happy Birthday but when we started to put up the decorations and he saw his cake he started getting pretty excited. My Dad, Patty and Eyan all came by to help us celebrate. We ate some yummy pizza and then it was onto the gifts. He got pretty into it this year and it was so cute. After the first present, a remote control truck from my Dad & fam, he just wanted to play with that and not worry about the rest. But we did get him to open the rest. On the next present he would tear a little piece of paper then hand it to his dad and say "'Ere go." He kept doing that over and over and we were all dying laughing. I finally had to step in and help or we would have been there all night. He got a dinosaur, colors and a big Diego color book, clothes and a letter magnet thingy. He made out pretty well and seemed pretty happy about all his gifts. When we sang him Happy Birthday he had the biggest smile on his face. It was so sweet. And it took him a couple of times before he could get the candles to blow out but it was so sweet. Man I love my boy!! I'm so grateful he's a part of our family and we get to be together forever!
12.12- found a great deal on Craigslist for Christmas, cell phones, spending all day with my family, Taco Bell, Christmas music, super fun Christmas party with YW leaders and their husbands, great food, great gospel discussion
12.11- pay day- made it through another pay period, feeling a wee bit better, Glee, Julie & Julia with my Bug, getting a Christmas angel gift for B to give and her excitement for it, BK food (especially onion rings), internet shopping, hanging with my man
12.10- sweet snuggles in bed with Baily while feeling miserable (she helped me to forget the misery for a few wee moments), Patty took Baily while Joaquin was napping so I could nap, kids cooperating so I can rest more than usual, tv, hubby loves me and brought me toast and oj
12.9- snow, snow, beautiful snow!, Robert off work all day, Robert's pancake and bacon breakfast again! (he's so good to us;), playing in the snow with my snow bunnies, making brownies and popcorn balls with the Bugster, delicious homemade beef chimichangas with a recipe I created on my own with homemade quacamole, watching Christmas Story and Harry Potter with my Bug and man, making it through the night alive after being VERY sick
12.8- beautiful & peaceful snow (let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!), making it through the night and finally getting some sleep after Joaquin puked about 12 times, hubby's bacon, sweetest & juiciest grapefruit, family prayer, tv & nickjr., Joaquin's long nap, unexpected but gratefully accepted Sealaska shareholder check, Christmas cards, onion chicken cooking all day in my crockpot, cuddling and watching Polar Express with my babies, aroz con chocolate, dad and Jensen for bringing me Gatorade for my kids, kids feeling much better running around and playing like nothing- quick bug and so grateful!, my sweet dad coming to clear our driveway for Robert at 11 o'clock at night, BL and amazing transformations, hubby made it home safe after 2 1/2 hours of driving!
12.7- out with the old-in with the new, rejuvenating walk, ipod, warm house, clean house & laundry, smell of pinesol, food to eat, prayer to help my little boy feel better, a washer and dryer for all the vomiting mess, how everything seems so much better when my hubby gets home
Friday, December 11, 2009
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
He smiled, spoke softly, and then rushed past me into the darkness to go on with his work. I took a few steps toward the house, thinking of what he was doing for us, and just as I got to the door, I heard in my mind—not in my own voice—these words: “I’m not giving you these experiences for yourself. Write them down.”
I went inside. I didn’t go to bed. Although I was tired, I took out some paper and began to write. And as I did, I understood the message I had heard in my mind. I was supposed to record for my children to read, someday in the future, how I had seen the hand of God blessing our family. Grandpa didn’t have to do what he was doing for us. He could have had someone else do it or not have done it at all. But he was serving us, his family, in the way covenant disciples of Jesus Christ always do. I knew that was true. And so I wrote it down, so that my children could have the memory someday when they would need it.
I wrote down a few lines every day for years. I never missed a day no matter how tired I was or how early I would have to start the next day. Before I would write, I would ponder this question: 'Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?' As I kept at it, something began to happen. As I would cast my mind over the day, I would see evidence of what God had done for one of us that I had not recognized in the busy moments of the day. As that happened, and it happened often, I realized that trying to remember had allowed God to show me what He had done.
More than gratitude began to grow in my heart. Testimony grew. I became ever more certain that our Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers. I felt more gratitude for the softening and refining that come because of the Atonement of the Savior Jesus Christ. And I grew more confident that the Holy Ghost can bring all things to our remembrance—even things we did not notice or pay attention to when they happened."
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
Monday, December 07, 2009
12.5- nienie's blog and her inspiration to me (beautiful photo on her post today), cocoa and cookies for breakfast, prayer, prayer, prayer, light parade with my kids, Biggest Loser, prayer, prayer, fresh & clean Baily Bug, making goals & having hope from Christ, watching videos of my babies when they were tiny babies and crying like a baby, my awesome hubby, watching CM with awesome hubby
12.4- successful YW Pres. meeting with lots of great things planned, great gospel discussion & testimonies, getting to serve with such amazing & inspiration sisters, being able to pay rent, BK onion rings, more music on ipod, Joaquin's adorable new mohawk, letter from my momma, B playing all day so nicely with Amber, scarf weather! and getting to wear my favorite scarf that my momma made for me, prayer, Christmas music, my Savior & the Atonement, fun Ward Christmas party with great food & pictures & Santa, love our ward!, Christmas lights and kids in awe at Grand Geneva, warm clothes and warm home on such a COLD day, watching Dan In Real Life & Music & Lyrics with the fam
12.3- my girlfriends caring about me, playing v-ball and having a blast even though I didn't want to go at first, snow!, Glee, excited about fitness goals, frozen pizza, watching Parent Trap with my kids, singing Silent Night and snuggling with Joaquin before he went to sleep, making Christmas and snow figures with play-doh with B for our Advent Activity Day 3, new music on ipod
12.2- very pleasant dreams, awesome episode of SYTYCD & music, playtime with Joaquin and his precious & unique laugh, day 2 Advent activity- making ornaments with Baily, B playing at friend's house again, getting my mom's 12 days of Christmas planned and prepared and ready to go, computers, printers, the Internet, better communication with hubby, successful YW activity and 10 Promises for Jesus, planning & excitement for our combined YM/YW activity in a couple weeks, my sweet Beehives, Sis. Rebarchik and all her awesomeness
12.1- grapefruit (you're gonna get sick of me saying this), grocery shopping and having a stocked kitchen, generous ward members, awesome RS Pres. who gave me advice and a new perspective, B playing at her friend's house, repentance, The Atonement, chat & brisk walk with Patty, spending time doing Advent calendar & activity with Baily, cinnamon toast & cocoa & cuddling with B while watching Home Alone
11.30- hubby let me sleep in even though it was my turn to get up with J, nice sound sleep, hubby's fluffy pancakes and bacon, family council & scriptures & prayer, Christmas music, washer and dryer so I don't have to do all my laundry by hand