We hope that your Christmas celebration and time with your family and other loved ones is wonderful this year. We have really enjoyed this Christmas season, trying to slow it down, do less running around and to be more intentional in our reflection upon what is most important. It always boils down to faith in Jesus Christ, our Family and Friends. We have used this time to ponder more upon the significance of Christ’s importance in our lives. Also how it pertains to our spirituality and our way of living each day as He would have us do, in remembrance of Him. We have been studying more together.
Us in April at a Relief Society Conference
Manning our Booth on Family History
Manning our Booth on Family History
Our church service has been very fun this year and we have learned a lot and enjoyed the fellowship of other like-minded people in Family History. We extended our service mission for another three years. Jim continues also with his Mondays in the engineering department at the Temple which he dearly loves to do. We have benefitted immeasurably by what we have learned about our ancestors this year. Especially in Wales and Italy. I have especially enjoyed teaching.
Jim and his good friend Dave have been out serving others most days and they have totally enjoyed that as well. There is something about service that is so wonderful and magnificent. You take the focus off of yourself and give of your time to uplift others. Gifts from the heart are the best kind. Things that money just cannot buy. We've had a Santa's workshop going on in our shop and all kinds of fun things to keep the guys more than busy.
I always like to decorate the house in every room in preparation for Christmas. I have thought a lot about why I enjoyed this part so much this year. The reason is quite simple. It is our tradition. The thought of it is always daunting, but when I open each box and see the treasures inside it just fills my heart with love of Christmases past and wonderful times over the past 47 years. There are sweet things my mother gave me when we were first married and had very little money for such things. We used to call her Mrs. Claus. She delighted in Christmas and went all out. We have my Dad's Sleigh Bells from his home back in North Dakota, in the early part of the last century when he was a boy. We have serving pieces that belonged to Jim's Gramma Marge and many other sentimental treasures.
People often give me Christmas things for our home. Each gift brings back memories of the beautiful people in our lives. Each year I bring out the photo in a little heart-shaped, silver frame of our little kids sitting on Santa’s knee. That really brings the memories flooding back. The little eager kids, in bed late and up before the sun on Christmas morning, with wrapping paper flying and excitement in seeing their merriment. The relaxing Christmas days when the months of preparation and planning were just past and realizing it has all been worth it. The miracles we experienced when our cup was always overflowing when we didn't know before hand how we could do it.
Most years since we were married we have had a Christmas family gathering at our house. I love creating the environment for that Christmas party. We want our family to have the best time and every little detail is part of that effort for both of us. Making memories is the best! When I take out our Christmas dishes now nearly 35 years old..the thought of all those loved ones and friends who have used those dishes over the years come to my mine. Each person. The grandparents and great-grandparents of the kids, all gone now but one. I think of my Mom, our Fathers, Jim’s Brother Gary, Gail and Becky, Gramma Marge and Grampa Andrew, Nana, Lala Angie. And Uncle Tom and Aunt Jean and Ruth come to mind. My brothers and their families, my cousin Bob and his wife Beth, and all the children, ours and the little cousins. And then the grandkids. As Jim says often and I quote, "It doesn't get much better than this." The memories of the excitement of the children when Santa would arrive each year during our gathering...it all comes back. Especially the time little Nicholas was positive he had seen Santa's Sleigh outside our big picture window in the dining room. That little Christmas baby is turning 35 this week.
We would cook old family favorites and still do. Especially the Italian delights from Jim's grandmother's recipes. In fact Jim is doing that right now as I write this. Traditions are so important in a family. I am sure you have some fabulous ones too. Do your children or grandchildren act out the nativity scene with each other at your gathering? Do you sing Christmas songs like we do? The carols are such a part of Christmas here. Whatever you do, may it be the Merriest this year. Traditions, both spiritual and secular, are what keep us grounded and unified in a changing and sometimes frightening world. We embrace them as best we can. As things change and time marches on, these are the memories that I keep in my heart and in our Christmas boxes of decorations. All of it is overshadowed by the love of the Savior for each of us as individuals and as families. God is love and that is all we need.
The Prayer by David Archuleta
Not everything was wonderful this year. There were trials and challenges but we try to stay focused on the good and keep a positive attitude. We lost two friends this month in unexpected deaths. Very sad and we miss them, and we pray for their families. Christmas brings comfort in such times. May we each find the comfort and peace in it.
This beautiful picture was taken this past Friday Night. Our long time friends, Velda and Ed, were photographed as Mary and Joseph. The next morning Velda passed away unexpectedly. Her wonderful life will be celebrated in a memorial service the day after Christmas. What a beautiful picture to be her last...a real testimony of who she really was. God bless you dear Ed.
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