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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

MY Very Own Christmas Story

       Remember when you were little and you would spend all Christmas Eve asking your parents when Santa was coming? All you wanted to do was go to bed so you could wake up and he would have come while you were asleep. Although sleep was always impossible for me. Every Christmas Eve we would open up ONE gift, it always was and still is a pair of matching pajamas. Seriously the best tradition. Then we would read Christmas stories together and my parents always read to us the story of our Savior's birth from Luke. Sometimes we would watch movies too. After putting out a giant plate of cookies for Santa and carrots for his reindeer, we would write one final note to Santa, I think it was our last minute way of sucking up to him. He always wrote us a note back and somehow I never put it together that my mom's handwriting and Santa's are eerily similar. Then your parents would help you get online to track Santa and when he got into Canada if you weren't in bed your parents told you that he was going to skip your house. I remember running into my room as fast as I could when I heard that. Back when we were little all of my sisters, yes all 5 of us, would all sleep in my bed together on Christmas Eve (we tried fitting 3 of us in a full last night and it DID NOT work). We would laugh and giggle and talk all night about what we were going to find that next morning. No one ever really got any sleep. Around 3 am one of us girls would wake all of us up yelling, SANTA CAME!! It was a fight to who could get into the family room fastest. I swear when I was little, the family room was sparkling. You could see the magic. 
       Now that I am older the magic is harder and harder to see. I still wake up around 3 just to go out and look, but the feeling is different. That is a fault all of my own. The magic of Christmas that I felt came from believing. Believing in something that is bigger than me. The magic of Christmas is not in the presents, but in His Presence. On our drive to the movie to watch Les Miserables tonight, my sister said to us, "it would be nice if Christmas were always on a Sunday, that way we wouldn't be able to forget about the real meaning of the season". This made me feel bad, because although I read in Luke last night before I went to bed, I haven't been very spiritual this season. I haven't been the serving, gift giving, magic spreading, loving person that I was when I was little. Believing that December is a magical time is no longer enough, there is an action that needs to take place. An action that I should have been acting upon all season long. 
      The world is in such a tragic place right now. Everyday something bad happens, lots of bad things happen. How many good things are happening? If we aren't the ones doing good, who is? It is our responsibility to serve others. The whole reason for our life here on earth is to try and become like our Father in Heaven. Our Father who is never lacking in love and charity. Our Father has blessed us more than we will ever know. 
       One of our greatest blessings is our families. When I think about my family I am truly overwhelmed with the love and gratitude I have for them. My parents have ALWAYS been there. Through thick and thin, good and bad, ugly and REALLY ugly. My sisters have always loved me. Even when we punch each other in the face we still love each other. A very very dear loved one of mine's health is deteriorating, and it is breaking my heart to watch it happen. There is nothing I can do, but love and serve. I know one day I am going to lose him, maybe not in the next few months. or even the next year, but some time. How blessed I am to know that we will be together again one day. There are many people in Heaven that I would love to meet or see again. I am so happy that our Savior died for each and every one of us, so that we may all return to live with our loved ones again someday. My life would not be the same without my knowledge of Jesus Christ. He is the greatest gift of all. 
       Today is my dad's birthday! I bought him a tie for his birthday. I know you are all thinking that is the lamest gift ever, BUT its a really pretty tie.... AND it goes beautifully with the new suit we got him for Christmas. :) I really am not that lame I promise! Birthday's are a big deal to me. I want everyone to feel super special one their big day and I try to be extra nice and serve them all day. As I was pondering tonight I asked myself what did I do today, or all season long to celebrate the birth of Christ? Didly squat, that's what. I am shaking my head at myself right now. I guess now is the time to start celebrating some birthdays. Now is the time to start spreading holiday cheer. Now is the time to stop feeling sorry for myself, or comparing my life to everybody else's. My life is actually pretty fantastic. I live in a cute apartment with awesome roommates, I have the opportunity to go to college, I have not only one but 3 amazing jobs that I love, my car runs wonderfully. My friends are the best, I have the gospel in my life, and there are no words to describe the family I undeservingly have been given. 
       I hope your holiday season has been filled with the spirit of love, joy, charity, and the magic of Christmas has been felt in your hearts. If it hasn't, it isn't too late to feel it. It's never too late to spread a little cheer. Merry Christmas everyone! I love you all!!

ash











Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Christmas Story


And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.


And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God,and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad   the saying which was told them concerning this child.

And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
Luke 2:1-14


“This Christmas, mend a quarrel. Seek out a forgotten friend. Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a letter. Give a soft answer. Encourage youth. Manifest your loyalty in word and deed. Keep a promise. Forgo a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Apologize. Try to understand. Examine your demands on others. Think first of someone else. Be kind. Be gentle. Laugh a little more. Express your gratitude. Welcome a stranger. Gladden the heart of a child. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth. Speak your love and then speak it again.”

-Howard W. Hunter


The magic of Christmas is not in the presents, but in His Presence.