White Christmas?

No posts for five days . . . holidays and blogging don’t seem to mix. But after three days of trying to drum up conversation with aunts, uncles, BILs, SILs, and the like, surely some of you are ready to sneak off for some online sanity. Let’s compare notes: (1) Did you have a white Christmas? (2) Were LDS services at your holiday destination even duller than the usual three-hour tour of Mormon storytelling?

White Christmas? Yes, and then some. I’m north of the border, where they say things like “it’s minus 17” (with a shifted zero) rather than something intelligible like “ten degrees above zero.” Sunday morning I put on mukluks, gloves, and two coats, then spent twenty minutes digging out the car, first with a broom, then with the brush, then with the ice scraper. Up here, you plug in the car not to recharge the battery on your hybrid, but just to keep it alive through the night. Global warming is not a threat here, it’s a prayer. There are seventy channels on cable, and my favorite is the continuous shot of logs burning in a fireplace, with deep orange flame and crackling logs. At least there’s a steady stream of great food and tasty desserts to carry me through New Year’s. To pass the time, I’m learning to read Egyptian hieroglyphics and successfully defending my title as ping pong champion of the extended clan. Next year I’ll dream of a warm Christmas.

Church? I think there’s a teaching crisis in the Church. Granted, a sample size of two doesn’t give me a lot to work with, but I’ve noticed a trend downward for several years now. Maybe it’s “Correlation,” maybe it’s a more general narrowing of the curriculum, maybe it’s a change in what teachers try to do. I have noticed how much emphasis there is on missionary work and home teaching (easy statistics to track) but so little concern with the quality of what goes out over the pulpit in Sacrament Meeting and what is taught in classes (no easy way to measure declining quality). Anyway, that’s what I noticed on the holiday tour this year. And you?


  1. Dave, after I get home (tomorrow!) and have a few sessions with my therapist (and/or a few drinks stronger than Diet Coke), I think I’ll be ready to blog about visiting home for Christmas. I’m thinking of revising Wolfe’s famous dictum: “Even if you can go home again, why would you want to?”

  2. Dave,

    Here on the east coast we had no snow (at least not where I live) but the temperature was brisk. Our church services included only an extended Christmas Sacrament Meeting and a session for Priesthood/RS/YW/Primary (not necessarily in order of importance). The program in Sacrament Meeting was outstanding – I think primariliy because I wanted it to be. The teaching in my ward is just fine because the ward membership is engaged in what is being taught. If we took the attitude that we needed to be entertained each week we would probably be bored to tears – and I’m sure some of the members are – because they choose to be. The classroom is just a forum for discussion and the presentation is usually as interesting as the people who attend.

    Many years ago I moved across the country, away from the vast majority of my family and so we don’t typically see them during the Christmas Holidays. We miss them and enjoy talking over the phone with them but in reality we’re glad we have our own Christmas traditions in our own home. If your aunts, uncles, BILs and SILs bother you that much, try spending the holidays away from them. You’ll probably learn to appreciate them a little more and you’ll find that establishing your own traditions has its own rewards.

  3. Here in Atlanta, no snow; in fact, nothing coming close. One reason to love the South.

    As for Sacrament Meeting, the people who were supposed to talk cancelled the day before Christmas Eve. So rather than trying to round up new speakers on two days notice over Christmas, we decided to do something a bit different. We invited people to come up and tell us their favorite hymn and why, and then we sang it. We must have sung a dozen songs of all varieties. Several Christmas songs, of course. We also sang Battle Hymn of the Republic for the National Guardsman who is getting deployed to Iraq next month. We started off with Redeemer of Israel (and we even got to sing the 6th verse, which has great lyrics, though they read better than they sing) and finished with I Know that My Redeemer Lives. I don’t know how much people liked it — there was probably too much singing and not enough talking. But the quality of the message could not have been better.

  4. Whew! Good to emerge from our blog coma!

    Christmas: not white, but chilly. New York didn’t have much snow, but it was freezing and inhospitable outside. But that was compensated by warm fuzzies as we shared Christmas with the local missionaries — for all of them, it was their first Christmas away from their families. For us, it’s also hard to have been away from family — ours are all in UT, Canada, or CA — so we could all comfort each other, to a certain extent. Except those lousy missionaries didn’t bring us anything…

    Church: well, it sure helps when you sleep in on Boxing Day. Sacrament Meeting was OK, regular talks, no Christmas program (we had ours on the 18th). D. played the organ and it was fantastic and LOUD!

  5. Our Christmas program consisted of the Primary children singing two songs during Sacrament meeting on the 18th.

    I am really glad we decided to stay home for the holidays. I is really a headache going home not only do you have to ship presents and but both of our families live in the same place so they fight over us. It is really hard to decide what you are going to do with who.

  6. D. Fletcher says:

    Somebody once called me the Van Halen of Church organists.


  7. White Christmas: Not a cloud in the sky on Christmas day, and no white stuff anywhere to be found. Two hours south of me they got 12.5″ of snow. We stayed home and didn’t have any out-of-town guests, first time in 3 years. Rather nice.

    Sacrament Meeting: Our Christmas program was the Sunday before Christmas. The choir did the entire program. I have to admit: I’m really not a fan of sitting through an hour of music with occasional, interspersed “canned blurbs”. Usually, in order to fill an hour with song, the choir director chooses numbers that are too “artsy” for my tastes.

    However, this year, it was well done and rather uplifting. Now if I can make it through the Easter program in April (must everything be in a minor key?).

  8. Christmas: Not white in Arkansas. But cold. And with a fantastic story of my brother-in-law jumping into the frozen pond for $30.

    Sacrament Meeting: The only meeting we went to (hey, we had to go home and get that food prepared) and it was fine. It was a farewell for someone in the ward (my wife’s family’s ward). Nothing Christmassy to speak of.

  9. Christmas: Very white. Very cold. Michigan got the top end of that storm which dumped tons of snow in the midwest on 12/22-12/23. Didn’t visit family- but decided at the last minute to go spend Christmas with friends who live nearby. Reminded once again that friends and family are nice, but it is always better to spend Christmas at home, alone, with only your own immediate family (wife & kids).

    Church: We had sacrament meeting only- it was very nice with only 2 speakers (and 2 GOOD speakers to boot). It was our last Sunday in Ann Arbor, ever… :(

    The midnight mass I attended at the Notre Dame basilica was also nice.

    Can I just add that Christmas was even more inconvenient this year than most? I hate the idea of holidays in general, but I hate the idea of a holiday placed where Christmas is placed even more. It is always horribly inconvenient for most of the country to be almost shut down for nearly a week at the end of the year.

    Instead of working, everyone always whines that it’s Christmas and feels a sense of entitlement to be with their families, even though they spend most of the year avoiding family like the plague. In the meantime nobody else can reach anyone they need to because everyone is “away for Christmas.” Those who don’t like the idea are labelled as scrooges or grinches. What a wonderful holiday!

    I’m all for worshipping Christ and thinking of Him, but that can be done everyday, and if we need formality in our remembrances we have the sacrament every week. Christmas is nothing more than a materialistic retail-imbibing fraud of a fantasy.

    Thank heavens it’s over for another year…

  10. Jordan…Scrooge…Yes!

  11. Christmas in Nashville wasn’t exactly white, but it was very sparkly. Most of that storm Jordan mentioned was rain in Tennessee, but the last couple of hours of rain fell as the temp dropped to 30 degrees, so the trees, grass, roads (!), and everything were coated with this gorgeous ice glaze. It really was incredibly beautiful the next day with the sun sparkling through tree branches that looked as though they’d been decked with thousands of tiny crystals. And it stayed cold for a couple of days, so the effect lasted.

    Fortunately, I missed the Christmas sacrament meeting program–it has been exactly the same every year since I was in high school; I can always sing in the choir if I want to. Everyone’s favorite songs are “Do You Hear What I Hear?” and “The Little Drummer Boy,” either one of which can put me in an exceedingly grinchy mood, a mood in which I compose alternate lyrics too gruesome to share ;)

    Randy, if you’re doing hymns, I don’t think there’s any such thing as too much singing and not enough talking! (Although I’m beginning (belatedly) to realize that some perfectly nice people like East Coast Eddie feel differently. It makes me sad to think that the source of my richest spiritual experiences leaves other people cold, but then again, maybe they get more out of church videos than I do)

  12. Kristine, I tend to agree. About 30 minutes into the meeting, though, there was a noticeable increase in the number of people coughing, presumably from everyone’s throats getting a bit dry. Perhaps we should have had the deacons pass around some more water. ;)

  13. Randy,
    As if I didn’t miss the Atlanta ward enough already! Thanks a lot. You should give warning to new members, that they will never be the same again after attending the ATL.

    Any recent Sister Gladys sightings? I think she preferred the Tucker building because she came several times a year when I was in Twin Oaks, (before they got their own building.)

  14. Hey Jen, it’s good to hear from you! Hope things are going well in NYC. You’re right about the Atlanta Ward. I think most new members realize they are in for a ride within a few minutes of being here. In many ways, though, things are a lot less crazy now than they were when you were here. As for Gladys Knight, no sightings lately–you’re probably right about the Twin Oaks ward. If only she had come for our sing-a-long!

  15. We had snow. I live in southeast Louisiana, nigh unto New Orleans, and they had not had snow here on Christmas in 150 years. Not exactly white…but definitely patches of it!

  16. Since I only go to sacrament meeting, I have far less to criticize about the church than people who attend the entire three hour block. We had Christmas two weeks in a row, the week before and the day after. The talks were OK, I guess, and the music was very nice. Not a hint of “Merry Smithmas.”

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