I pulled a fast one on you today. Posting over at Segullah. Please join me.
Today I’ve been thinking about Christmas. I felt it just a little bit this morning when I saw some photos my friend Cabesh posted. I tried to listen to my Christmas music at work, but I can’t quite get into it yet. I blame the weather. It’s unseasonably warm and for some reason I need snow.
But that’s not really it.
Tonight we gathered as a Relief Society to share a few Christmas stories. The room was beautifully decorated with giant snowflakes. There were giant ginger cookies on the refreshment table. But what I loved most (aside from one of the most beautiful prayers I have ever heard offered) were the stories. One of our sisters prepared a slide show about her childhood Christmases in Venezuela. She shared photos and descriptions of the food, the music and the activities. What struck me most was that it wasn’t about Santa. She never mentioned gifts. It was all about family and friends. In nearly every frame I heard her say the words “Baby Jesus.” Aside from the food, nearly every tradition centered around Baby Jesus.
As I reveled in moment, appreciating the warmth and love I always feel when I am gathered with these my beloved sisters, I knew what it was that was missing.
And I knew what I needed to do to find it.
Please bless I can pull myself away from the duties and also the distractions of my life to seek Him.
When I was 22 I attended the *mission farewell for one of my best girlfriends who was leaving on a mission. I had a great job I loved at the BYU Bookstore Sports Department, was almost ready to graduate from BYU and had been dating Shane already for a couple of years. As I sat there in the congregation as my friend spoke I had the feeling I should serve a mission. It wasn’t until that moment I recalled how, as a brand new 8-year-old I had enthusiastically exclaimed to my bishop: “And when I am 19 I am going to serve a mission!” I also remember feeling totally deflated when he told me “Girls can’t go until they’re 21.” And the thought completely left me until that day.
Once I made the decision I had my **papers in within just a couple of weeks and received a call to serve in the Belgium Brussells Mission. As I prepared to go and to leave my job, my boss called me in and mentioned to me that he would like to help support me on my mission. He committed to $25 a month towards my mission for the 18 months I would serve. It was a generous gift from a good man I had come to think of as family to me and I appreciated both his love and his support. I knew it wasn’t likely I could ever pay him back, but I hoped to be able to pay it forward someday.
About this time last year my friend Rachiel came to our house. “I finally got my answer!” she exclaimed. Rachiel had wanted to serve a mission, but also had a serious boyfriend to whom she was practically engaged. The (previous) “21” age requirement had come and gone. She had been back and forth over her decision for the past year and had never felt completely sure of her choice. But just like that she had received the answer for which she had been waiting and she too submitted her papers in just a matter of a couple of weeks. Rachiel had been supporting herself through school and would be paying for her mission as well and at one point was planning her availability date around when she would have enough money to be able to go.
All at once I had the feeling that this was the opportunity for which I had been waiting. I made the same offer to Rachiel that my previous boss had made to me, in the hopes it would allow her to leave earlier rather than later. The timing was perfect–we had been paying for half of our sons’ missions for nearly four years, but she would leave just the month before Zack would return. Rachiel graciously accepted my offer. Some twenty-five years later I finally had the opportunity to pay forward the kindness that had been extended to me. It is a small and simple gift, but it does my heart good. I hope at some point I will find another opportunity to pay it forward again.
The true gift came from Rachiel, however, not from me. In the months before she left on her mission to Peru, Rachiel, a CNA, was hired by my mother to help provide care for my elderly grandmother. Rachiel loved and served my grandmother in so many ways that touched my heart–touched all our hearts. She loved my grandmother as her own and was a comfort and companion to my grandmother in her final days. One of my favorite stories, which I did not see for myself, but which I can see and feel in my heart as if I had, is of the time my mother arrived to find Rachiel curled up next to my Grandmother on her bed reading her the scriptures. My grandmother had mentioned that she could no longer read them due to her eyesight and that she missed that. So Rachiel was reading from the Book of Mormon to my grandmother. I know Rachiel’s heart and I love that she has this opportunity to share her loving heart and the testimony of Jesus Christ that is written upon it with the people of Peru.
*meeting at which a missionary who is leaving speaks in church (more correctly know as “that meeting formerly known as a farewell.”)
*application papers one submits when one decides to serve a full-time mission, which includes clearances by doctors, dentists and ecclesiastical leaders
I believe I’ve written about my love for the Asian Market in Provo before. I short, I used to go in and talk to the proprietor about how to make my favorite Thai dishes. Her name is Kanakum Lawson. She would write the recipes down on scratch paper while patiently explaining things like what kind of rice to use with which dish and why I should buy my rice from her instead of from Costco. (I do. And she is right.)
The recipes were wonderful, but I would always lose them. So I was thrilled when she told me she had made a cookbook of her mother’s best recipes.
I bought one. It is simple, but perfect. And the dishes are as good as but mostly better than anything I’ve ever ordered at a Thai restaurant. I love it!
And then one day I was making curry and I couldn’t fine it. So I bought another one.
Several weeks ago I realized the people in my family who don’t share my love for curry were going to be away during dinner time, so I decided to make curry. I drove to 3rd South and pulled into the driveway of the market and suddenly couldn’t breathe. The market was empty. Closed. I almost cried. Then as I got nearer to the door I saw a “We’ve moved” sign and I almost cried, for joy this time. The new location is 24 North 500 West (State Street) in Provo. I quickly drove over there and was overjoyed to see what she has done with the new location, which is much larger than the previous. She’s offering classes now. And can sell her imported rice in 10-25-50 lb bags instead of 5 lb. ziplocs. While I was there, I picked up another cookbook.
For one of you.
Please leave a comment mentioning your favorite kind of curry or your favorite Thai dish by midnight Wednesday (don’t forget to leave me your email or a link to your blog), November 28. Winner will be chosen at random.
This wasn’t quite our first Thanksgiving all together again after four years, but almost. Five of the six of us gathered together with some 40+ of our closest kin at the family hogan in Duchesne.
Zack said that Thanksgiving in Duchesne was the only thing that made him remotely homesick while he was in England, so we made sure not to miss it his first year back.
The cousins are the bestest part.
We love those who come. And miss the ones that don’t make it in any given year.
What I love most are the traditions:
The drive to the mountain for those who aren’t needed in the kitchen.
Going around the tables to give thanks (many thanks for pie).
Little kids playing downstairs.
Older kids playing games and watching a movie at Uncle Rodney’s.
A few of the oldest kids creating Christmas gift lists while browsing the Black Friday ads. (This year most of them opted for sleep instead of shopping.)
And I remembered Thanksgivings past:
Like the one where I was so excited my aunt and uncle were coming from California, only to wake up to learn that they had to stop on the way and give birth to my cousin Jami.
How in the olden days we used to thaw the turkey on the counter.
The ones where there was wheat bread in the Harvest Stuffing or potatoes in the steamed carrot pudding.
Wanting to invite anyone and everyone who didn’t have a place to go for Thanksgiving Dinner to my mom’s house for Thanksgiving. But generally limiting it to just one or two.
The Thanksgiving weekend when I was first on scene when a friend overdosed and I was grateful to have been where I was when I was so I could help.
The Thanksgiving dinner I helped cook and serve in France, where, of course, they do not celebrate American Thanksgiving.
Getting food poisoning. (See above.)
My first turkey, which I cooked with the innards still inside. (First and last time.)
Our first Thanksgiving in our current house during which we learned that temperature was arbitrary for our totally cool and amazing antique Frigidaire stove.
The Thanksgiving dinner at which my baby brother and SIL surprised everyone with their new baby girl.
A few years until this one of Thanksgiving dinners over at the Jamestown with Grandma Jacobs and Uncle Hilton.
This year was good.
Followed today by one of my new favorite Thanksgiving traditions, getting together the day after with my friends Christy and Tressa in The Basin.
I am thankful for good family and good friends and for the understanding I have that these associations are not accidental or temporary.
This spring while I was helping my mother with one–I can’t remember if it was the first or the second–of her cancer surgeries, Shane went out to the local IFA and picked up a baby chick. I had been raising three baby chicks already, but had been waiting for months for an Americauna, which was to lay pretty blue, green or blue-green eggs. (Photos forthcoming) She was beautiful–one of the prettiest chicks I’ve raised. I named her Cleo, because the markings on her eyes reminded me of Cleopatra.
Because the other chicks were already grown enough to join the other chickens, this one was raised by itself, which is sort of a sad thing for a baby chick. When it was time to move it outside, it was clear that the pecking order was not it Cleo’s favor. The three young hens that were older than Cleo had banded together even more tightly than would have naturally occurred by being raised together, in order to protect themselves from the older hens who were not very keen on the new comers. That put Cleo all alone at the bottom of the pack.
When it was clear that she was not going to be very happy being picked and pecked on all around, we moved her into the bottom of one of the pigeon cages, hoping she would get bigger and also acclimate a bit. Pigeons are much nicer to their own kind than chickens. Soon it was clear Cleo thought herself to be a pigeon. She seemed pretty content as a pigeon, but when I would let her out in the afternoon with all the chickens, she would run and hide under the pigeon cage. She spend a good part of her teen-chicken months under in self-assigned solitary confinement under the pigeon cage.
Then one morning in the late summer I heard a strange sound in the back yard. It was a hoarse crow. And it came from Cleo. I mentioned it to my husband, but he did not believe me.
Then, a couple of days later, he watched Cleo crow and knew I hadn’t been imagining things.
My she was not a she but a he. And instead of pretty blue, green or blue-green eggs, all I was going to get out of Cleo was going to be strife with my neighbors and a possible visit from Animal Control.
We set about trying to find Cleo a home before her/his crows got loud enough to annoy the neighbors. Several of Shane’s students were interested. There were a few others who expressed interest as well. We sent her/him out to Duchesne and after a couple of interested parties changed their minds, Cleo ended up at my inlaws. It seemed to be the only safe place for such a timid, anti-social and, truly, scared-nearly-to-death fowl.
This morning I heard Cleo crow for the first time in months. He runs free all over the yard and pasture here. Seems to get on just fine with another rooster who found refuge here. He’s huge now. And still beautiful. But the best part is he appears to be very happy. He no longer looks at the world from under a somewhat poopy pigeon cage. He seems to enjoy free reign of the place and is strutting his stuff in the sunshine. Or sometimes the snow. In any case, he holds his head a lot taller now. And the fresh air seems to do him good.
That Sunday evening I attended a delightful and delicious Ben & Jerry’s tasting party. It was a brilliant idea and a super great time, which proves once again that I have the very best friends!
That earlier that earlier this week I was on the phone helping out one of my favorite account managers when he told me tbat the account manager next to him wanted to speak with me. He passed the phone to her. I was expecting her to need my assistance as well, but no:
“I just wanted to let you know that it’s our guy here’s birthday today!”
She transferred me back to Rich and I was so happy to be able to tell him “Happy Birthday!” I would have felt awful to have spoken with him on his birthday and not known. I truly love the people with whom I work, many whom I’ve never met in person, but who treat me with love, respect, courtesy and appreciation every single day.
That while in St. George last weekend eating up the beauty that is Snow Canyon I wondered aloud if the people who saw that red-rock panorama every day ever took it for granted. Someone responded, “Well, it’s probably just like us and where we live. I thought abou tit and realized that I rejoice every morning in the beauty that is Timp, who greats me first thing from my bedroom window. I am greatful that I don’t take the beauties of this earth for granted.
Speaking of beauty, tonight I asked my MIL how her hair was growing back. She took off her wig to show me. I am grateful for fhe medical advancements that give both of our moms a fighting chance against breast cancer and for eyes that see true beauty not as the shallow world sees it but for what it really is. Barbara’s wig is pretty, but her face is just as beautiful to me under the super short dark scalp-hugging new hair that signifies recovery from the cell-killing properties of chemotherapy as it is framed by the full styled wig she received before she started treatments. I feel the same way about my own mother who is about two months behind Barbara in the treatment and recovery process.
And, finally, that when I asked the family if they had any requests for pie tomorrow Zack was ready with “Sour cream lemon! I’ve been waiting two whole years for that!” (I honestly thought he did not miss me. And maybe he didn’t, but at least he missed my pie.)
As some of you may know, I am getting my first daughter-in-law in a few months. Her name is Emily and I’ve been thinking about her quite a bit lately. I wasn’t too excited about Christmas until I thought about how fun it will be to shop for the perfect gift for her this year. Today I was wondering how the wedding plans were coming and if Emily had found a dress she liked yet. Tonight Luke and Emily dropped by and she filled me in a bit. She went to look at bridesmaid dresses and they talked her into looking at wedding dresses, too. She found one she likes but she doesn’t want to be done dress shopping before she even begins, so she didn’t buy it (or the perfect train that goes so perfectly with the perfect dress). I like that she knows what she wants. That is a wonderful trait.
Mostly I wonder how to be a good mother-in-law. Which is where you come in. I think you should please be for telling me in the comments at least one thing to never do and at least one or more things to always do.