Why General Conference Can Be Like Christmas!

What did you all think of General Conference? I loved it! Frankly, my little kids, however, don’t always love it. It’s always a battle to get my kids to be quiet and listen. I make packets of coloring pages and puzzles and such but those don’t keep their attention for longer than 15 to 20 minutes, especially my three active younger boys. We still struggle with them getting up and wandering from the room during Conference, wanting to talk and giggle, or wanting to wrestle or go outside and play. I still have hope that they will grow up to be like their older siblings who actually take notes during Conference like I do. I have to admit, when I had kids younger than 5, General Conference was even more of a struggle. I felt like I was wrestling with babies and toddlers and couldn’t take notes. Now that my youngest is 6 I can take notes and for that I am grateful!

I totally enjoyed what I read on my dear Veggie Gal friend Becky Edwards’ blog here. She wrote about her observation of Pres. Eyring giving the same talk four times in older General Conferences. I plan on internalizing it and paying more attention to repeated themes in General Conference from now on!

More and more I am hoping to make it so General Conference days have a holiday feeling, so that they kids look forward to it as much as Easter and Christmas. Just as it says here, we can have special food, service and activities like we do at Christmas. I had never thought about it much before, but it’s true! We can also have special decorations and music. We don’t usually get tangible gifts at General Conference time, but we get spiritual gifts that can be just as exciting or more so. For example, I was especially touched by the following talks and the gems of wisdom that touched my heart:

  • Sister Neill F. Marriott with her sharing of how she lets the sacrament ordinance affect her heart every week to stay on the covenant path of repentance
  • Elder Larry Lawrence for his suggestion of what we can say in our prayers, namely, “God, what would Thou have me do to improve myself?”
  • Elder Jeffrey R. Holland for his comparison of mothers to the Savior (which resonates with Chapter 2 of my Tree of Life Mothering book here)

  • Elder Russell M. Nelson for his very personal story of how his wife had the vision to spiritually pick him up and dust him off. This was after two of his patients (from the same family) died after a heart surgery he performed. She had the vision to tell him that he couldn’t quit his work on pioneering open heart surgery, because he had future people to help. One of those people was the future Pres. Spencer W. Kimball. Think about it, if it weren’t for Dantzel Nelson’s vision of Elder Nelson’s work and her encouragement, Pres. Kimball would have died a lot sooner! What vision of our husband’s work can God give to each of us? Becky Edwards blogged this wonderful post here about Elder Nelson’s talk.

Every six months we get to hear these beautiful, amazing stories from the hearts of apostles of Jesus Christ and His other leader/teachers. They each have a lifetime of wisdom and inspiration, and at every conference they give us a portion of this wisdom. We get so have a spiritual feast at every General Conference as we get these morsels of spiritually dense food!

So here is how I plan to make General Conference to feel like Christmas!

  • I’ve been doing this for years, and plan on continuing with it. About a month before General Conference, I pull out my special sheet music I took from some older Friend magazines and I sing these songs with my younger kids around the piano. We do this every weekday morning for our homeschool devotional to cement in their minds that General Conference time is a cherished time to hear the words of a living prophet of God. Here are “When I Listen to the Prophet’s Voice,” by Matthew Neely, “At Conference Time” by Brad Wilcox and Steven Kapp Perry, and “I Like to Listen to the Prophet” by Ruth Gatrell.
  • have special food for the meals of the two days. Preparing food and cleaning up after food on General Conference has always been a sore point for me. I have wished, “Can’t we go for two days without eating and just feast on the spiritual food?” I feel like I am racing the clock to get breakfast done and cleaned up before the AM session, the lunch prepared, served, and cleaned up in the two hours between sessions, and dinner prepped and served before the men in my family have to go to the priesthood session. As I write this I realize that all of that has happened because I would always sleep in on both mornings, so that’s why I was behind. It’s time to repent! So, here is what I am going to do. First, make sure I wake up at 6 AM on Saturday morning so we can have breakfast of something easy but special, by 8:00 AM, so there’s still time to clean up, and do grooming and be settled before the 10 AM session. We can have cinnamon rolls on Saturday morning with my newly discovered butterscotch topping for the glaze. I am still figuring out what we will have for lunch. This year we had sandwiches which was quick but not really special. Maybe we will have these sandwiches from Jocelyn Christensen’s blog. For Saturday dinner we had pizza I bought from the store. That way I can pop it in the oven right at 4 PM. Then we can eat dinner at 4:30, and the men have plenty of time to change clothes and be out the door to meet friends 45 minutes away for the Priesthood meeting like they did this year. Then for when they get home we will have apple crumble or brownies with ice cream.  For Sunday morning we will have something like pumpkin porridge, in the fall, or this jalapeno cheddar quiche for the spring. Then for lunch we will have something totally simple: popcorn. Then for the dinner, we might have white chicken chili from the above mentioned link at the blog of Jocelyn’s, that I prepare the night before and stick in the crockpot Sunday morning. If I am really ambitious, we also might have a second night of dessert, like pumpkin bars, in the fall, or homemade strawberry ice cream in the spring. With planning, involving my kids to help, and using food I totally look forward to, prepping and serving food will be much less of a chore at Conference time (and any time, really!)

Photo Credit: Jocelyn Christensen of beinglds.blogspot.com

Photo Credit: Jocelyn Christensen of beinglds.blogspot.com

  • watch it on a big screen with our projector, like we did last weekend thanks to my R.M. son’s ambition to set it all up. It really makes Conference much more special
  • bribe my younger kids to take notes with some special non-food treat, like an outing with their friends
  • have a FHE Jeopardy-type quiz contest with prizes after Conference is over
  • Listen to the priesthood session while we make a treat for the men to come home to. I am so grateful the Church now streams it live over the radio and Internet. It used to not be that way.
  • print out the Conference at a glance summary page that Becky Edwards’ posted here, on my bedroom wall
  • gather round the piano and sing songs after the dessert, which I will serve after the General Priesthood meeting. I never thought my family was much of a song-singing family. This past Conference my 17 year old son got a group of his friends together with his dad and brother. They gathered at one of the young men’s home after the meeting, and they sang songs around the piano. When they came home, my husband was telling me how wonderful it was. I told him, “Wow, now that I know you think singing around the piano is so great, we will do this a lot more often!”
  • keep that Conference spirit alive with follow-ups to the “calls to action,” which Sister Jocelyn Christensen writes about here

So I am looking at these ideas not as more things to add to my checklist, but things I “get to do” to invite the Spirit more into our home. I have to admit, many times when Conference rolls around I haven’t felt ready. I have groaned inwardly and thought, “Yikes, I’m not ready for Conference, I don’t want to have the kids clean the house on Friday and give up a day when I have all this other stuff to do!” It’s time for me to repent of my Martha attitude. 

Please share any ideas you have for making General Conference a less-harried, more Spirit-ful time.

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