The first Christmas brought promises of peace and goodwill. The two thousand fourteenth Christmas fulfilled those promises. It has been a glorious, GLORIOUS two weeks.
The glory started Christmas Eve in the home of Don and Linda Stoffers. After a soup-er (it helps if you say “soup-er” aloud) dinner, we played a game about Christmas (the game “Orchestra” using Christmas carols works really well—email me for details!) and then reviewed the story of first Christmas gift given to all mankind and told stories of gifts Christ has given us personally. We ended the evening singing carols to the accompaniment of a professional (and beautiful) violinist. The game elicited lots of laughs and our attempts at singing brought laughs as well; the in-between was all love. Glorious!
More glory came Christmas morning as I watched my oldest daughter, brilliantly clad in her bright orange dress, disappear through security at the Salt Lake International Airport. Tanah flew to Washington State where she spent a week with my parents at Zion’s Camp in Belfair. I was excited to see her go, not because life is easier with two children at home than it is with three (which, by the way, is true) but because the fact that she wanted to spend her vacation with my parents and that she was confident in her ability to get there on her own testified of her competence and good character. I love it when my children manifest competence and good character. Glorious!
As we were already in Salt Lake, those of us who remained in Utah decided to visit the temple. Newly fallen snow softened the Square, which was largely deserted and totally bereft of commercialism. We listened to a rich, recorded voice tell the Christmas story as we looked at the life size Nativity scene. We snuggled in an alcove and watched the “He is the Gift” video. Walking around the temple, listening, looking, feeling was a very good experience in a soft, special way. Peace. Miles and Grace threw snowballs at each other; I stopped Lance from hitting Joseph Smith (statue) in the face with a snowball. Goodwill. Glorious!
We spent a portion of Christmas afternoon at the Roy Fish Pond, which was also largely deserted and totally bereft of commercialism. Thankfully, it was not bereft of fish; Miles, Grace, Lance and Joe (Drago) caught several and kept three which we ate for Christmas dinner. Glorious!
We Skyped with Chick (er….Elder Hislop, that is!) Christmas evening. Though I eagerly anticipated his phone call, I was also a bit apprehensive; neither he nor I are good at phone conversations. Groundless fears. It was so, SO good to see him. He glowed with growth and vigor; it was so clear that he is thriving. Glorious!
The entire Christmas break has been glorious. In real life I get up at 4:30 a.m. every morning, Sunday through Saturday. Every morning. For two weeks now, I have not gotten out of bed before 6:00 a.m. In real life I spend hours and hours weekly preparing for my role as an eighth grade science teacher. I have not done anything associated with OPA science for two weeks. In real life I rarely watch movies with my family; too many other “more critical” things on the task list. I watched three movies at home over the break. I rarely stay up past 10:00; my body simply shuts down about 9:00 pm. New Year’s Eve we played games with the Rose family, comfortably competing and entirely enjoying ourselves until well past midnight (1:30 a.m.!!) Tony’s impressions of a cheerleader and Miles’ pantomime of a video game remote control for the word “Playboy” are never-to-be-forgotten experiences. (May Miles never learn the difference between game boy and Playboy and may Tony give a repeat cheerleader performance someday….) Glorious!
Grace and Miles took me sledding at Rohmer Park in Washington Terrace. There was one jump on the entire hill and I managed to hit it. (Believe me, it was not on purpose!) When it because obvious that my sled was going over the jump I laid back, closed my eyes, and waited for what I knew was going to be an incredibly painful experience. Grace and Miles said that all the eyes of everyone on the slopes were on me; they too were waiting for inevitable…… They knew, as did I, that it was not going to be pretty.
I went over the jump. The sled caught air. I caught air. Blue sky was visible between the sled and the ground. Blue sky was visible between my body and the sled. Sailing….sailing…..sailing away…..And then we landed. Together. The sled on the ground. Me on the sled. Incredible. I successfully avoided the jump all of the rest of the afternoon; Miles successfully went over the jump most of the afternoon. And we all lived to tell about it. Glorious!
The angels said “And on earth peace, good will toward men.” They also said “Glory to God in the Highest”. (Luke 2:14) Like the angels, I say “Glory to God!” My prayers have been full of gratitude for the peace and goodwill of the season, so full, in fact, that I have not been able to say much else. (Sorry, I have not been praying for you, please forgive me.) Thank you, oh thank you, dear and gracious Father in Heaven, for the change of pace, change of focus, and change of heart brought by this season. May the change of heart last when the focus and pace change back.