Sunday, December 19, 2010

Keeping Christmas

Romans 14:6: He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord.

It is a good thing to observe Christmas day. The mere marking of times and seasons, when men agree to stop work and make merry together, is a wise and wholesome custom. It helps one to feel the supremacy of the common life over the individual life. It reminds a man to set his own little watch, now and then, by the great clock of humanity which runs on sun time.

But there is a better thing than the observance of Christmas day, and that is, keeping Christmas.

Are you willing to forget what you have done for other people, and to remember what other people have done for you; to ignore what the world owes you, and to think what you owe the world; to put your rights in the background, and your duties in the middle distance, and your chances to do a little more than your duty in the foreground; to see that your fellow-men are just as real as you are, and try to look beyond their faces to their hearts, hungry for joy; to own that probably the only good reason for your existence is not what you are going to get out of life, but what you are going to give to life; to close your book of complaints against the management of the universe, and look around you for a place where you can sow a few seeds of happiness-- are you willing to do these things even for a day? Then you can keep Christmas.

Are you willing to stoop down and consider the needs and the desires of little children; to remember the weakness and loneliness of people who are growing old; to stop asking how much your friends love you, and ask yourself whether you love them enough; to bear in mind the things other people have to bear on their hearts; to try to understand what those who live in the same house with you really want, without waiting for them to tell you; to trip your lamp so that it will give more light and less smoke, and to carry it in front so that your shadow will fall behind you; to make a grave for your ugly thoughts, and a garden for your kindly feelings, with the gate open-- are you willing to do these things even for a day? Then you can keep Christmas.

Are you willing to believe that love is the strongest thing in the world-- stronger than hate, stronger than evil, stronger than death-- and that the blessed life which began in Bethlehem nineteen hundred years ago is the image and brightness of the Eternal Love? Then you can keep Christmas.

And if you keep it for a day, why not always?

But you can never keep it alone.

--Henry Van Dyke

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Grandpa Green

My Grandpa has been gone for quite a few years now. I remember the last time I saw him--Grandma and Grandpa were leaving our house and we were outside saying goodbye, and for some reason I had the thought that it might be the last time I would see them. I brushed that thought aside, though I cried a little when they drove away, and shortly after I headed back up to school. I was on campus when I got a call from my mom saying that Grandpa had been very sick and was probably not going to make it. I sat down on a bench and cried--some kind student asked me if I needed some help, but I said no. It was very sad for our family to lose him--he was a wonderful grandpa and leader of my mom's family. And since we always lived close to my grandparents (I even lived with them for the first three years of my life), he was such a big part of my life growing up.

Often I remember something about him or I hear something that reminds me of him. He had his own dialect, unique probably to Idahoans and Utahns of his era, and sometimes I hear older people who talk like him. "Sundee, Mondee,Tuesdee, etc." He also had a slew of expressions that our family remember and use from time to time like, "Well for heaven's sake". He had so many unique ones too that I can't think of. He had nicknames for the kids like McGilicudy and Button and Peanut.

Speaking of which, Grandpa was very fond of nuts and always had a stash by his chair: peanuts, pistachios, walnuts, pecans, macadamia. I would sneak them--I love nuts too. He was also very fond of fishin and would tell stories about his fishin trips and camping trips. When I was little, I really liked rocks and started a rock collection. Grandpa gave me some of his--he knew a lot about them and had the tools to cut and polish them. He was known by many as a great jeweler, and I lucked out and got some jewelry from him over the years. On my 12th birthday we happened to go to my Grandparents house, and he went into his office and came out with my first string of pearls! I felt so lucky! Eleven years later I wore them on my wedding day.

I remember Grandpa would squeeze some orange juice in the mornings. I have this image of him in the kitchen in some plaid pajamas juicing a few large oranges from his tree outside. I have no idea if this is just my memory of one day, or if it happened often, but he just made enough to fill a glass. Grandpa was always making things in his shop. He made me my first little dollhouse. It was so cute! Once I was assigned to make a pioneer wagon for school, so he and I made one out of wood. I have no idea how I did that ;) Another thing about Grandpa is he was always handing everybody money. That was so cool. And at Christmas he would type up his testimony and give everyone a copy. I have a stack of those letters in one of my boxes at home that I am excited to read again. He was at all my big events growing up, he blessed me when I was a baby, he confirmed me when I was baptized. I think of him whenever I sing How Great Thou Art because he loved that song. He is a great example to me, and I'm grateful to be his granddaughter.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

So Blessed

The last few weeks, though at some points exhausting, have been very happy ones. I have been feeling very blessed and feeling Heavenly Father guiding my life. I feel lucky and also a little bit guilty because I have not been incorporating Him into my thoughts and life as often as I should. I need to be more diligent in my prayer and scripture reading. Why are those simple things so hard for me to do sometimes? However, despite my slacking in some areas, I am still feeling close to Him. Sunday was a really great day for me--our Relief Society lesson about the Savior's life was so powerful and I felt it added to my testimony. I have just felt more joyful and more grateful lately and I am so thankful for my blessings. Sure, we have lots of worries and stress with our busy lives, and it seems like no matter what we do we are scraping for money. But we are also greatly blessed, and I feel like Heavenly Father is reminding me of that.