What you really need at Christmas

This Christmas, I’m posting my best gift, early:


Yes, it’s merely a picture of my husband shoveling the snow this morning. Two days ago he came home from working on the other side of the country. We haven’t seen him since he drove away last summer. (No, I didn’t chase him away. He willingly came back for the holidays, see?)

Over the past six months I’ve gained a deeper appreciation for single parents and the stresses they deal with all by themselves. It seems that each month I had a new little crisis I had to deal with, without another parent to pick up my slack.

But not this week. My sweet hubby got out of bed, looked out the window, and willingly headed out. That means I don’t have to guilt and nag my sons into doing it—Merry Christmas to me!

As he shoveled, I read online about a family whose healthy, college-aged daughter just died unexpectedly in her sleep. About a young husband whose wife and unborn baby recently died in a car accident. About a military family which is facing Christmas without their husband and dad at home, again.

And here I was, taking pictures of my hubby shoveling.

At Christmas we don’t need as much as we think we do. If you’ve got most of, or even all, of your family around you, that’s huge. This year we’ll see everyone except one, but we’ll be able to skype him Christmas afternoon.

But if you don’t have all of your family with you this year, and may never have them again in this lifetime, you most especially need Christmas.

Or, more specifically, He who’s birth we’re trying to celebrate in the middle of the over-scheduled chaos: the Savior.

Bring to Him your heartache. Bring to Him your longing. Bring to Him your anger, and He will give to you the greatest gift that you truly need: Peace of Mind.

Image result for lds jesus

Thank you all for a wonderful year, and may you find and feel that peace that the Savior brings–that lasting peace which tells you that while your life may make no sense right now, it will in the end. Just hold on, believe in Him, and no matter your circumstances, every Christmas will somehow be merry.

In a way, Mahrree felt almost cheated, almost dismayed, for feeling such dejection in the world, and had she only known how swiftly all that loneliness and longing would be swept away—

No, she did know. A small part of her had always known that whatever misery she was enduring would be seem but a small moment in retrospect. The Writings had said so, but it was as if her physical brain couldn’t fathom what her spiritual mind already knew. No wonder her feelings were often in so much conflict.

But now, with the limitations of her mortal mind lifted, suddenly everything was easier. She could remember the sadness, but marvelously she no longer felt it. She held the memories, but none of the pain.

No wonder they called it Paradise.

(Teaser from future book 8; don’t worry, book 6 is coming, very soon. And so will be books 7 and 8!)

Don’t Play the World’s Games

Perrin didn’t feel like playing any games tonight, and he wasn’t interested in establishing himself in the colonel pecking order. He never was one for my-brass-is-shinier-than-your-brass. 
~Mansions of Idumea, 
Book Three: Forest at the Edge Series

I’m not a gamer.
Some games I really despise, like Monopoly. 
I HATE Monopoly.

Maybe it’s because I inherently detest spending money, real or otherwise, but something about that game brings out the worst in me, and so whenever the board comes out, I walk away.
Instead I’ll read a book or even clean the bathroom, but I’ll refuse to get involved in something that I know will make me clench my fists.

I Don’t Play the Game.

Years ago I realized I could walk away from any “Game” that makes me less than I what I really want to be. I no longer make New Year’s Resolutions (another annoying Game), but instead I remind myself what Games I will stay away from.

For example, at Christmas I won’t play the Family Letter Game called “No One’s Year Was Busier or Harder Than Mine Was, and Here’s the Evidence” followed by paragraphs of perfectly mundane things that everyone goes through but apparently seems to overwhelm the writer. I do send out Christmas letters, but make sure all of us come off sounding slightly stupid (not too hard to pull off) because I don’t want anyone to feel like we’re playing the “Don’t We Sound More Amazing/Challenged Than Your Family?” Game. 

Years ago I also quit the Home Decorating Game because after hours of watching HGTV and reading Better Homes and Gardens I decided my home and garden were definitely not better, far too shabby, and not anywhere chic. My normally satisfied disposition became quite disenchanted with all I had been blessed with. Giving up my so-called “hobby” of home decorating (which was becoming an unhealthy and self-serving obsession) made me happier than if I’d won any Best of Home Sweepstakes.

When I quit playing those Games, life became better.

And I’m not the only one. I’ve heard of lots of ways people Don’t Play The Game (DPTG), whatever Game it is that riles them. For example,

–One man quit listening to talk radio because that Game caused him to growl like a rabid bear whenever he drove home, and his nerves were frayed by the time he walked in the door to greet his children.

–One woman refuses to sign up for Facebook not because she doesn’t have anyone she wants to catch up with, but because she knows that Game would draw her too far into the gossip, the self-righteous selfies (her words, which I love) and the need to know everything about everyone.

–Another friend refused to go on to Pinterest, because that Game will only increase her hobby addictions, not restrain them.

–And another friend deleted his “commenting accounts,” as he referred to them, because that Game of “Making The Most Voted-On Comment” in three different newspapers took up to five hours a day, just to feed his ego.

Not Playing that Game—whatever Game it is—will change your life, I promise. When you see a trigger that normally sets you off in a direction that eventually leaves you miserable, walk away before getting started.
Let this year be the one where you no longer play that Game, the one that makes you crazy.

Stop reading the articles about actresses and their bodies and hair and clothes. Don’t play their “You’re Not Good Enough” Game.

Step away from the groups—online or at-home—that started meeting for a good cause, but now just get together to belittle and complain. Don’t play that “Let’s Decide Who’s Worse Than Us” Game.

Excuse yourself when the Game of “Listen to How Great My Job/New Car/Vacation/Kids/House” begins. Don’t one-up the other players, don’t belittle them, don’t play that Game at all. No one will win.

Can’t leave the Game? Then change the rules!

That “Listen to How Much Better (or Worse!) My Life is Than Yours” Game? Next time, agree with them! That’ll totally throw them off their Game.

“Wow–you’re right. Your mother-in-law really is more neglectful than anyone else’s.”

“Yes, yes–that boat is worth every penny you’ve sacrificed for it; don’t listen to your wife.”

“I agree–your son probably is the most hopeless nineteen-year-old I’ve ever heard of. Good luck with that.”

Really, they won’t know how to play that Game, and will likely quit (until they figure out your new rules).

Neighbors that aren’t really neighborly? Kill them with kindness; toss them cookies instead of throwing their animal’s poop back over the fence.

Family members that press your buttons? Move around those buttons and prepare responses that will completely confuse them.

Coworkers that consistently let you down? Work circles around them until they get dizzy.

Just don’t play that Game anymore.
Walk away.
Find something better.

I’m not guaranteeing it will all work. You’ll still likely get sucked into arguments you didn’t want, tasks that shouldn’t be yours, and feelings you thought you had conquered.

But you will have fewer of them, and when you realize that the world is full of Games, one that you can choose to play or leave at your will, suddenly life becomes much more manageable.

Snyd gave up and slapped his desk almost cheerfully. If the other man wasn’t even going to play who’s-got-the-bigger-brass, it was as good as a win.
He didn’t notice Perrin didn’t even care.