Christmas Craziness

Dear Sisters,

A few weeks ago I was sitting in an airport watching a major news program. These were two of the top stories: WalMart Worker Trampled to Death by Deal-Crazed Black Friday Shoppers & Two People Dead In ‘Toys “R” Us’ Shooting. These two headlines shook my core.  I had spent three weeks preparing for a Relief Society lesson that suddenly needed to change because of what I was hearing over the PA system at the airport.

What has Christmas come to? Shopping? Deals? Low prices? Black Friday? Cyber Monday? The coolest toys, the hottest fashions? And cars  – suddenly it’s the most exciting thing to give someone a car for Christmas. One day all the toys and latest fashions won’t be so hip anymore, and they will be forgotten or replaced by next years gifts.

Have we forgotten about the gifts of eternal value? Things we maybe cannot touch, but we can feel; happiness, tolerance, forgiveness, peace, love, friendship, service.

President Monson sums up exactly how I feel Christmas should really be first before toys and worldly things. His message perfectly illustrates how important it is to keep Christ at the center of our Christmas celebrations, and how we can give gifts of eternal value.

It’s been very difficult for me to get into the ‘worldly’ Christmas spirit this year, but it has been easy for me to focus on what is most important, which is Christ and the gift he gave us of his example, his life, his death and his love.

I wonder, what does Christmas mean,
With its stars and shiny balls?
Is Christmas more than Christmas trees
And toys and games and dolls?
Of this I’m sure: There’s something more,
For I’ve heard many say
That in a strange and far-off land,
A child was born this day.
And Christmas is to celebrate
His coming from above.
He showed us how we all should live
And told us we should love.
In Search of the Christmas Spirit“, President Monson

::Photo Credit -BibleStoryMurals.com::

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The Silent Tragedy

Not too long ago my husband and I watched a conference talk for Family Home Evening. The talk focused on how we are all in need in times of tragedy (death, illness, accidents etc.). It is customary in our small household to have long discussions about our FHE lessons. My husband mentioned one tragedy that had not been part of the talk: loneliness, and how it is the silent tragedy.

I have had the privilage to sit on the stand in sacrament meeting to play the organ, or behind the piano in Relief Society, for many years. Without fail I always steal glances of the pews or chairs to see how is out there, who is new, who is missing, and who is sitting by themselves. Yes, I notice who sits alone. I notice who sneaks in and takes the back set. I notice who gets passed by. My automatic response is to go and talk to them or invite them to come and sit with us. But with my commitment to a music instrument on Sundays it is hard to do, but there are still ways that I can help loneliness vanish.

Have I done any good in the world today?
Have I helped anyone in need?
Have I cheered up the sad,
and made someone feel glad?
If not, I have failed indeed.
Doing good is a pleasure,
a joy beyond measure,
a blessing of duty and love.
(LDS Hymnbook, Hymn 223)

President Monson gave a wonderful talk in 1992 about this very topic of loneliness. I spent some time reflecting on his talk and decided that I have no excuse. The three-hour chuch block is not the only time we can reach out to those who need us. Sister Whimsy has already provided some great advice in her recent post, 6 Ways to Belong in Relief Society. Ward activities, ward temple night, visiting teaching or just visiting (for no reason other than to say hello) are also great ways to reach out to the lonely.

People need other people. We all need to feel loved, supported, included and wanted. I have committed not to let ‘the silent tragedy’ take over my life (and it has in the past), nor will I let another moment pass me by that I can make a difference in the life of another.