We hope you had a wonderful Christmas and that winter is all you want it to be. Me? I like winters to be sunny and sixty, but I realize others actually do enjoy snow. This boggles my mind.
Remember back when you were seven, I challenged you to read the Book of Mormon before your baptism? I’d like to challenge you to read it again this year. I found a great study journal for youngsters, which we are sending along this time. Actually, I went through it last year and enjoyed it. I’ve found using a study aide or journal during daily devotions keeps me on track and sort of accountable to myself. Besides daily personal prayer, nothing helps my desire to be like Jesus more than constant feasting upon His words found in the Bible and Book of Mormon. Like Nephi, I feel ten feet tall; I have courage and confidence to go and do God’s will and my own will aside. It’s just easier to choose the right. Only you can choose a prayerful, devoted life and relationship with God. I hope you do.
The book we’re sending is the second in a trilogy. Yes, the second. Why? Well, the first one is in the voice of a girl. If you like the second one enough, you might go back and read the first. I liked them both but didn’t see you reading past the first few pages of the first one about a girl. So…I hope you love this as much as I did. I sent Sammy another one by this author called Fever. Both Sammy and Aunt Emily LOVED the book, although it made them cry on several occasions. Sammy even said, ‘Grammy shouldn’t have sent me this book. I’m too young for this.’ In the end, she was glad she read it. I sure wish I knew what sort of books you like best.
Well, my whole life is taking a different direction than I imagined only weeks ago. I teach reading and handwriting to a class of 3-6 year olds in a Montessori school; I love it. While Papa goes up North for tax season, I fully intended to stay here and continue teaching, rationalizing the short time apart. Once again God has other plans for me. I won’t go into details, but He let me know in no uncertain terms that my place is with Papa. Although I love him dearly, teaching has been delightfully fulfilling. Sigh… ‘I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded [with a smile on my face and a song in my heart], for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.’
Another thing I’ll have to give up is my new Bear den, this being the fourth time I was called to lead a den. I love scouting as much as teaching, but that’s not why I bring this up. I had a serendipitous teaching moment during cubs last week. For part of our Christmas party, we went to a gingerbread house display. Everyone enjoyed it. In the car on the way home, we all talked about our various Christmas traditions. One boy grew from quiet to sullen until he finally said. 'I hate it when people talk about things I don't know anything about. I get so jealous.' For a split second, I didn’t know what to say. After pleading with the Spirit for the right words, I was given insight well beyond my capacity. I explained the jealousy was a form of the sin envy, which Heavenly Father commanded us against. Further, I pointed out that everyone has some cool stuff in their lives; we shouldn't get angry or jealous because others have different cool stuff from us. 'Be happy for them, and be happy for yourself.' After this little inspiration, I asked him to tell us the cool stuff his family did at Christmas. Visibly happier, he told us of traveling to snow country each year to play and pajamas on Christmas Eve and several other things.
What cool stuff is in your life? What interesting things do you do? Are school studies still on the top of this list? Have you been sledding? Do you still swim often? Who are your true friends?
Dash hates the lack of freedom since we had to take out the dog door. Still, we have lots of fun; she likes ‘hide and seek’ as well as fetch. One of us holds her in the office, while the other hides behind a door somewhere and whistles. She trots down the hall looking until she finds the hider. Then the hider runs away with her chasing. It’s never a good idea to make a dog running away into a game, but the other way around is fun for everyone. As Papa would say, ‘It’s a gas.’ When she plays fetch, I throw her ball in the kitchen, she catches it and puts it back in my hand for another go. We really love having this little dog.
So, Papa and I married 34 years ago this December 30. Never in our marriage have we spent Christmas without children until this year. Worrying that it would be depressing and lonely, I amazed even myself with the quiet pleasures of an empty nest. Sure, we would have loved hosting any or all of our children and grandchildren, but it wasn’t as I dreaded. We ate green corn and blue corn calabacitas tamales; tamales are a SouthWest Christmas tradition. Green corn just means sweet corn with green chilies in regular yellow masa—not Martian tamales. However, blue corn actually is purple-blue; it’s quite delicious despite the odd color. We enjoyed the warm weather, compared to the rest of the country. Since neither of us needs anything, we gave each other useful or silly gifts. I gave Papa dishtowels, tennis shoes, and t-shirt with T-Rex trying to do push-ups on little, bitty arms. He gave me a computer cover and two sets of winter jammies. We watched a favorite old movie, Catch Me if You Can; we like the dish scene. Finally, we watched the First Presidency Christmas Devotional and listened to carols. It was stress-free and even fun.
Hopefully, you will like the magazine when it comes. When my children were small, they loved National Geographic World, which we hope is similar to the NG mag we sent. Because we send you and your cousins gifts and cards all year long, we go a bit easy with Christmas.
Don't forget we love you, as do your parents, Heavenly Father, and Jesus Christ. Read your scriptures and pray. Obey your parents. Run from sinful, rebellious 'friends.' Choose true friends that encourage you to stick to gospel virtues and values. Be good, loyal, and nice. Study hard. Be patient with God's will and timing. It is so worth it.
LYL! P and G