Unexpected Gifts of Christmas

I love Christmas and love to stretch out the season by keeping the decorations up after New Year’s and continuing to read Christmas books. My kids and I are still reading An Angel on Main Street and loving it for our nightly read aloud. We did get the tree down though last Saturday but the other stuff is still up.


(These creations are actually the artwork of my nieces and nephews. Artwork is sorely lacking in our homeschool.)


This year I had so many unexpected gifts. That’s a hard thing for a mom to say. Usually we know everything that is coming and going from our Santa’s workshop as we coordinate everything.


First, my brother-in-law and his wife gave us their van! We have been needing a new van since our last baby was born so we could all fit with seatbelts but couldn’t afford it. Andrew got rear-ended in his van in Colorado Springs. It has a minor dent in the back but is totaled. OK, this shows how ignorant I have been with cars. I thought totaled meant that the car was totally smashed up and therefore not driveable. The car is totally still driveable. It just needed a new panel to replace the dented panel, and that cost more than the car was worth, so the insurance company declared it as totaled.  Andrew and Meg traded their van for our older minivan (the seven seater we outgrew two babies ago) because they are starting to empty their nest. They still got paid by their insurance for what it have cost to buy a replacement car and we get a new van that seats 12! Thank you Andrew and Meg! They have been so generous to us through the years.



Second, a week before Christmas I went to a Kirk Duncan Body Language Show. If you ever hear about this, go to it. It was fun!  See http://3keyelements.com/. This is one of those things like TJED was years ago where everybody’s talking about it in my circle of friends and I am thinking, “What is all this talk about? What’s so great about it?” Well, it is great and I learned a lot! Kirk is a super nice guy. I was afraid this would turn out to be kind of like those Impact trainings where the teacher/trainer/mentor tears the attendees up into shreds but it wasn’t like that at all. Kirk is very gentle and builds people up even while giving feedback about what their body language is saying. It is a commercial to come sign up (i.e. pay, for his next seminar) but I am OK with commercials for things that better my life. As a Christmas gift to all the attendees, he gave away his CD of The Compass. But that wasn’t the real Christmas gift from him to me.


The real gift, the unexpected one, was a piece of knowledge he gave me on how to deal with angry people. He said that you simply stop them in their tracks and say firmly, “Stop! Don’t unload on me. I have worked for years to clean up my life. If you want to unload your negativity go do it outside on the ground and then come in and let’s talk.” I love it! People talk about cleaning up the environment all the time. How about we clean up the toxin of anger first?



Lastly, on Christmas Day…I got the best gift of all. An increased knowledge of my noble heritage. My brother and sister-in-law, family history gurus, came up with beautiful gifts for my parents relating to family history. They gave them a scrapbook with pedigree charts, life stories, and copies of patriarchal blessings of ancestors going generations back. (Did you know you can order patriarchal blessings of your ancestors for free from the LDS Church? But just four per month.) My dad was recently called as a stake patriarch. He found out through this gift that he has many ancestors who were patriarchs as well.





Then for my mom’s birthday gift, which was two weeks before Christmas, but they decided to give it to her on Christmas Day, was a DVD with stories of three of her very famous ancestors. One she already knew about, who is the Reverend John Lathrop. Many Utah Mormons are descended from him, including my husband and the presidents of the LDS Church. See http://deseretbook.org/Exiled-Story-John-Lathrop-1584-1653-Helene-Holt/i/5059905. He’s a really cool guy who knew Christ’s true authority was not on the earth during the hey day of the Church of England. He flaunted the CoE’s authority and was therefore exiled and came to America in search of religious freedom. Joseph Smith is descended from him.



The two ancestors she didn’t know about were/are John Howland, a Mayflower Pilgrim (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Howland). So apparently I am distant cousins to a lot of famous people, like Sarah Palin and George Bush, and Chevy Chase, some of whom I don’t want to claim.



The other is Roger Williams, founder of Rhode Island. Elder Jeffrey Holland gave a General Conference talk about Many-Greats Grandpa Roger, saying that he was his direct ancestor. I remember thinking, “Cool! I want to be descended from him too!” So I am, and Elder Holland is one of my many distant cousins! Read about Many-Greats-Grandpa Roger here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Williams_(theologian) and here’s an excerpt from Elder Holland’s talk:


“In the tumultuous years of the first settlements in this nation, Roger Williams, my volatile and determined 10th great-grandfather, fled—not entirely of his own volition—from the Massachusetts Bay Colony and settled in what is now the state of Rhode Island. He called his headquarters Providence, the very name itself revealing his lifelong quest for divine interventions and heavenly manifestations. But he never found what he felt was the true New Testament church of earlier times. Of this disappointed seeker the legendary Cotton Mather said, “Mr. Williams [finally] told [his followers] ‘that being himself misled, he had [misled them,’ and] he was now satisfied that there was none upon earth that could administer baptism [or any of the ordinances of the gospel], … [so] he advised them therefore to forego all … and wait for the coming of new apostles.” 8 Roger Williams did not live to see those longed-for new Apostles raised up, but in a future time I hope to be able to tell him personally that his posterity did live to see such.”



This has inspired me to live up more to my noble, freedom-seeking and Christ-seeking heritage. It also makes me feel more interested in family history and temple work. I got going during the Christmas break on some research and my sis-in-law helped me find some names. (It is the biggest myth in the Church that “Our genealogy is all done!” Baloney! As my family history guru mentor sis in law says, “I don’t care if you are the prophet, there is work to be done!”) Then my oldest son took the names to the temple to do the baptisms.You too can do this work, from home. It’s what the Internet was made for. If you are just playing games, reading blogs, and doing Facebook, your wasting your Internet time. Go to http://new.familysearch.org and sign up today.


It helps me realize that my problems are so miniscule and that there is so much more to life, like leaving a tremendous legacy, than my petty problems. If these great-grandpas could go through near starvation, imprisonment, exile, and falling overboard the Mayflower, I can certainly go through lack of money, impertinent children, and a not a big enough house.


So thank you Heavenly Father for these unexpected gifts of Christmas!

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