EP 455 – Stories of Christmas

TWiM's co-hosts gather 'round to share meaningful stories of Christmas.

Merry Christmas to you! To mix things up a bit this week, we’ve gotten together your favorite This Week in Mormons co-hosts to share personal stories of Christmas most relevant to them. You’ll find laughter, tears, joy, and humility in these stories from Tiffany Hales, Devin Thorpe, Al Doan, Kurt Francom, Jared Gillins, Arianne Smith, and Geoff Openshaw. We hope they will bring you Christmas cheer.


Geoff Openshaw:
[0:16] Hello my little elves to die Santa.
Headed to this week in Mormons thanks for taking the time to tune in this week because this week is Christmas were right upon it we wanted to mix things up a little bit.
So what follows in this special episode are small Christmas anecdotes from the various co-hosts of this week in Mormons.
Some of the stories are humorous some of the stories are tearjerkers summer touching summer spiritual summer secular.

[0:45] What’s Ray’s we see the common threads of the Christmas season through different lenses through different hosts I want to take this time out front to thank everyone who participated and to get things kicked off.
We’re going to hand it over to our very own Tiffany Hales of the twin sisters was a story.
About how she eventually got the best of her mother during Christmas.

Tiffany Hales:
[1:17] Now you may think the game of Survivor was invented by Mark Burnett and made famous by CVS and its host Jeff proust but you would be incorrect.
The game of Survivor was invented by me and my mother.
During my entire childhood Christmas was a dance my mother and I played to see who could outwit outplay Outlast,
my mother never wanted anybody to know what they were getting for Christmas,
she was famous for wrapping small items in big boxes with extra heavy items like bags of beans or towels to throw you off when you were trying to guess the gif,
and you always had to guess the gift before opening it so it became a game between me and my mother for her to outwit my guessing skills,
now my guessing skills became finely-tuned and quite Adept at a very early age I would scour the house for all the hiding places for presents until my parents got smart and started keeping the presents at my dad’s business.

[2:20] I would dig through the trash for receipts,
I would look in the trash for bags from stores I would even go into my mother’s sewing room and dig through the fabric scraps in her trash to figure out what she might be making me
I would eavesdrop on conversations and I would unwrap and rewrap a present and you couldn’t even tell
I was obnoxious and I’m pretty sure I drove my mother that to the brink of Christmas insanity,
no Christmas 1975 was a particularly memorable one in our game of Survivor I was 8 years old,
the rule in my family was you could not have a Barbie and her accompanying accessories until you were 8 years old.
I turned eight about a month before Christmas and received my first Barbie so of course for Christmas I wanted all of Barbie’s accessories,
specifically the carrying case with the fold-down bed and her Country Camper.
I had picked them out of the Sears catalog as usual I could not sleep on Christmas Eve with the excitement of Christmas and my anticipated new Barbie toys.

[3:27] Sleeping on Christmas Eve or rather not sleeping on Christmas Eve was normal and again part of the game of Survivor that my mom and I would play I would always be sent to bed about 10 p.m. I would struggle to fall asleep,
and I usually wake up somewhere between 3 and 4 a.m. which was generally shortly after my mother went to bed we would then spend the next 4 hours with my parents yelling at me to get back in bed,
threatening to take away my Christmas presents if I didn’t I got really good at being as quiet as a church mouse.

[4:01] Now on that December day in 1975 I woke up probably around 4 in the morning.
I quietly opened the door to my room which was only about three feet from my parents bedroom and their door was open.
As I entered the hallway I was confronted with string now this string was strung across the hallway,
through door handles through cupboards it was at various varying height all throughout the hallway it was like a maze to get through and around the string,
so my first thought when I saw the string was this was an ingenious plan by my parents to keep and trap me in my room,
but I was not about to be deterred by a little string,
I carefully weighed made my way over and around and through the string to the living room only to be confronted with more string,
it was everywhere running through the kitchen the dining room and all throughout the first floor of our house at various various Heights and around things.

[5:03] I made my way to the Christmas tree and began to investigate I found the end of the very long string strong throughout my house wrapped into a box with a Christmas bow address to me
I realized then the string was a clue to one of my present and I would have to wind a string into a ball to get to my present
I began quietly following the string until I realized the end of the
the other end of the string let into my parents bedroom now not wanting to risk the wrath of my mother and waking her up I return to bed
a few hours later my parents allowed us kids to get up and I pretended to be oh so surprised by the string everywhere,
now the other rule in our house was there would be no opening of presents until everyone was dressed and ready for the day including Shower hair and makeup for my mother as a child this was
absolutely pure torture so what did I do during this time while my mother was getting ready,
I kept following the string and when she left her bedroom to go to the kitchen to get breakfast I found the end of that string leading to a cupboard underneath her sink,
I opened the cupboard to find a wrapped box
and one with of that box and I could smell the distinct smell of Barbie plastic and I knew it was the Country Camper.

[6:24] Biggest smile swept over my face and I was giddy with excitement I last I had outwitted outplayed and outlasted my mother in our game of Survivor.

Geoff Openshaw:
[6:49] Tiffany Hales surprising none of us with her ability to incorporate reality television into a Christmas story.

[6:58] Next Devin Thorpe explains to us how an experience of his youth show them how the materialism of Christmas is what matters the least.

Devin Thorpe:
[7:14] My father was well educated and well employed as I grew up with what ultimately reached a total of 5 siblings but there were a few lean years.
It’s Christmas approached one year my parents began encouraging us to think about how well-off we work relative to others,
they told the stories of pioneer Christmas celebrations one of which included the highlight of a 10-cup for each child in the family.
In every way possible they prepared us for a modest celebration.

[7:46] Well I think they hoped for us to be touched by the lesson of that modest Christmas that did in fact include attend cup for each of us.
I remember simply being mildly disappointed the feeling didn’t last past pancakes.
The next year was a better one for Dad as I recall Gap results real estate woes and felt better about his career than ever in his life.
He was earning a good salary at a job he truly loved.
If memory serves that was the most Bountiful Christmas of my pre it’ll wife never before and never again will there be such a celebration in the store poem.
There was a veritable mountain of presents for each of us mom and dad must have been up all night wrapping in organizing we were ecstatic with Christmas.
Consistent with the rules in our home of opening one present at a time so everyone could do and I are over every gift.
The unwrapping went on for hours the entire living room was waist-deep and wrapping paper there was no way in or out without waiting through the detritus of the biggest Christmas Haul ever.

[9:04] As we near the end of the unwrapping the phone rang violating the unspoken and universally understood rule of the holiday at the time that no phone calls should be made before noon.

[9:17] The caller was my Dad’s friend Lynn who worked at LDS Hospital where my dad were.
When was special he had a developmental disability that that prevented him from learning to read but he knew numbers and so he loved to listen to the radio.
Well he loved the radio and changing the stations because each one had a number and the numbers made sense to him.
He loved buses for the same reason they all had numbers and he memorized where each number went.

[9:50] Lynn has a defining quality when you meet him he will ask first for a hug and when he gets it he’ll ask you to Pat his head.
I still see Lynn from time to time and he still wants a hug and to have me Pat his head even then is yell at a relatively young man.
Lynn live pretty independently.
He called that morning to tell Dad about his Christmas celebration and the one gift he’d received as I recall.
An album on CD.

[10:26] When Dad finished the call he hung up the phone and began to weep he told us goodness story.

[10:37] In a sea of presents shredded wrapping paper and untied ribbons and bows we sat in stunned silence.

[10:48] Finally the Tin Cup lesson penetrated my heart and I understood how incredibly unimportant what we receive is to having a truly good Christmas.

[11:03] If the story were fiction I would say we wrapped up some presents for Lynn and raced over to his home to brighten his Christmas but we didn’t.
Lynn remained a constant friend until Dad’s job took us from Utah and is an important memory for us.

[11:21] If you know then and you’ll recognize him in this story from 40 years ago if you do give him a hug and a pat on the head for us.

Geoff Openshaw:
[11:46] Devin Thorpe a wonderful and kind man and you can see how the lessons earlier his life brought him to who he is today.

[11:56] Next up for bringing in twins very own co-founder Al Doan with stories of leaner Christmases and the lessons they taught him.

Al Doan:
[12:41] Geoff.
Ask me to light the world and so I single-handedly said I will like this world and watch it burn.
No you asked me if he asked me to serve reflect on a Christmas or a story of Christmas that I have as a kid.
My family just moved we we actually left.

[13:06] The place were growing up in California we we left there because we had some real financial trouble my brother had some medical stuff happen and we had a bunch of bills pile up and so we we kind of lost everything packed up what we what would our,
personal belongings into a nice big truck and move to Oregon where my aunt lived that a basement there,
that they said we’re welcome to use while we transitioned and figured out what we’re going to do next we move into my aunt’s basement
and if you don’t work and you know that it rains a lot in these basements aren’t super dry and as we had about six months of living up there and it was
kind of a disaster man,
these memories of like waking up in the middle of the night is rain become seeping in for the walls and and started to rise in the floor we try to get all of our stuff up off the floor all my baseball cards,
10 year old 12 year old.
Ruined the tears of flu from that but like it was just kind of this hard spot and we were in a tough spot,
like my mom and come to all us kids it said hey we can’t afford to pay all our bills if any of you can help until like I went worked with a,
landscaper part-time to make a little extra money just gave it on Cave it’s Mom’s help pay bill you know it’s like a lot of the stuff you don’t,
you know the kid.

[14:34] I don’t know man I I can’t imagine what my parents are going through that to have those conversations with their children and as a kid I you know I just remember feeling so helpless and as that Christmas approached it was it was interesting because we
so we had we had this little little makeshift living room in a basement room.
With a couch in there and and I remember my our mom.
Telling all us kids that hey this year it’s going to be different right where we don’t have anything to give each other in fact we don’t have room for anything to give each other anything so so,
you know where we’re just going to make it through this one and we’ll get to the next one it so weird with changed all our expectations,
how to about nothing I’m hoping for maybe some candy in the stocking that we got from Deseret Industries when we did a food hoarder with the church and.

[15:33] The Christmas Eve we we did those the first year we never heard the Forgotten carols
by Michael McLean and it was such as beautiful thing for seven kids to sit on a cement floor and listen to Mom read the story and and play these songs and
you know first if you’ve ever done these there’s there’s pretty goofy in the beginning and you’ll hear like
homeless another side every starts going to making fun of in that is The Story Goes On you start to sort of listen and and hear the message it’s in there and it was just really touching,
Christmas Eve this like our family Swedish we do big Christmasy things and to have a night where it was just us,
it was just us down there and didn’t have any big parties going on didn’t you know we eat we had a dinner and stuff for like our Christmas Eve was not a festivity it was a.

[16:29] Let’s sit and and listen and so then we went to bed and,
unbeknownst ass or my parents actually at that point the ward had gotten together and found,
are gathered a bunch of toys for us a bunch of presents they weren’t necessarily new but they were new to us is like a slot car that had most of the pieces and you know there’s a bunch of bunch of just like,
just enough,
it wasn’t a time it was enough to fill the tree and we woke up that next morning and just had the magic of Christmas but I just saw.
A tree filled with presents and the absolute joy and wonderment at.

[17:15] How could this have happened and you know it we knew we knew Santa we knew Santa wasn’t you know all that he was cracked up to be until it but like it was it was a truly.
Magical moment to wake up that Christmas morning walk out to that and and.
Honestly man I look around at at people around me like I want nothing more.
Then to be able to give that gift to some kid and I wish that we had,
I’m more socially acceptable way of not hurting the pride of parents or you know like and just being able to give and lift and,
donating and supporting these great ways where you can just find families in and hug them the way that we were hug that year but I’m just so glad that somebody,
noticed and said something because we weren’t we didn’t have a hand that somebody sauce.
And they made that Christmas amazing for us and like let us really feeling it was cool.

Geoff Openshaw:
[18:35] I’ve known Alpha very long time now and stories like that,
continue to give me a lot of appreciation for one of my very best friends cuz what we have a lot of fun on this show beneath all the bravado and inappropriate jokes there’s a very sincere guy who is,
quite anxious to offer a leg up to anyone he can help and I think that is something in the true spirit and meaning of Christmas.
And ask yourself who are you thinking of just as the donut family was thought of who’s on your mind who can you lift this holiday season.

[19:13] That’s speaking of lifting our friend Kirk Franklin had an opportunity to Don the regalia of one Santa Claus.

Kurt Francom:
[19:34] Shows December 2014 I’m in my condominium living room and it is literally filled with bags boxes bows and bikes I mean wall-to-wall of presents all wrapped
sparkling under the the Christmas tree by three year old daughter is just so enamoured by,
all the gifts thinking this is the best Christmas ever and it’s only my third Christmas but I remind her again that these gifts aren’t for you,
is it because I’m the bishop of the leaderboard and I’m the point man when it comes to All Things sub for Santa
now suffer Santa’s a strange term when I heard as a young boy
sitting in different Church meetings as they announce the sub for Santa efforts happening the Warren I just couldn’t understand it why did Santa Claus need a sub a substitute to go around for him to help with Christmas this didn’t make sense when we had such a magical
powerful being who could go around the world on Christmas Eve.
And deliver gifts to every young child in the world why did he need a sub for Santa will several decades later I figured.
Out because I was Santa’s substitute standing in my condominium living room in my in my condo.

[20:53] Knowing that it was I was the appointment I was the person to deliver these gifts and that delivery happened,
a few nights later after my keeping my daughter away from every every piece of wrapping paper hoping she wouldn’t open it prematurely before these other kids would.
Parents began to show up at my door with grateful Hearts as I help them load down the three flights of stairs their gifts that they had.
They that they had prepared to give their kids because we are in South Salt Lake very inner city part of the valley.
Many of these individuals lived in apartments that they didn’t even know if they’re going to pay rent let alone cover Christmas but we had them we had so many donations come through from organizations from individuals.
In the ward outside the ward it was incredible to be the bishop who is able.
To bring in those donations and make sure that we had enough and sometimes I wasn’t sure if we have enough depending on the need of that was that I knew was there do we have enough funds to cover to be the sub for Santa for all these families,
but as I was loading down these presents I knew we had done it we have covered every request from every family that I was aware of in that area.

[22:12] But then the next Sunday just a few days before Christmas.
We had more donations coming through people at giving me hundreds of dollars gift cards people organizations donating writing checks to the ward.
The Wii down they look to me to make sure that this These funds were used Before Christmas all the needs were filled I thought.
And so this caused me to go to my Bishop’s office on my knees I prayed thinking what am I supposed to do with his money where can it go how can I find more need.
And then the spirit whisper to me go find it.
And so few days later there I was roaming the apartment complexes in my ward I was knocking on doors introducing myself looking more like an FBI agent than Santa Claus knocking on doors,
asking people introducing people saying I am the local Latter Day Saint Bishop,
I have funds available to help with Christmas do you know of anybody I could help,
that was remarkable to see some individuals with a grateful heart still me know this is Been a Good Year we’ve been so blessed we have Christmas.

[23:22] But there’s one family across the way if you could go visit them I think they may not need Christmas I want across the way knocked on the door.
This humble father came to the door I explain to my site explain to him who I am that I’m not in the FBI that I’m in fact it a bishop that wants to help.
And I have funds to help and he was so grateful as he quickly.

[23:45] Jolted around his apartment complex looking for a slip of paper where you can build a few items that is children needed.
And I did that and he did that I took took the list along with several others I collected I went back to the phone’s back to the war council back individual volunteers and we covered the Christmas for those individuals.
That Christmas in 2014 was so special to me because I truly felt like the sub for Santa.
The I knew that it wasn’t just the magic that that was unexplained and no one could understand they got Santa around the world in one night it was actually the efforts of individuals many,
subs for Santa that did were blessed with the opportunity.
To be the same for Santa and that was on my favorite Christmas’s when I got to knock door to door dressed as a bishop.
But truly being a sub for Santa.

Geoff Openshaw:
[24:58] Kurt frankum now let’s get away from the Mountain West until we call it I believe and you tell Mountain.
And have the pleasure of listening to The Treasure of the words I one of my fellow District of Columbia denizens Jared gillins great story.
About the importance of gratitude in receiving.

Jared Gillins:
[25:36] In December 1996 I did my Eagle Scout project it was a pretty run-of-the-mill sub for Santa operation fighting gifts food and some cash for 3 families in my steak at Kirkland Washington.
Though it was by no means original it was everything an Eagle project was supposed to be I learned about leadership I found value in performing service and I am made a small difference in my community.
It felt good to serve and I remember the Gratitude I felt radiating from the recipients.

[26:04] A year later on a dark evening in December 1997 I answered a knock at the front door to find a box of gifts wrapped and tag for me and my older brother Mark I brought them in and it together with our parents we open them.
I still remember the presents I’ve been badly a pair of stylish dress pants with slightly too small in the waist.
A new paperback copy of Charles Frazier Cold Mountain and Wynton Marsalis album on cassette tape I also vividly remember how I felt.
I was confused the gifts were obviously tailored to me historical fiction jazz pants that were very close to my size but I couldn’t figure out why we were receiving them we were obviously the recipients of a sub for Santa project but I didn’t think we needed to be.
Within a month I would understand the kind of financial trouble my family was in my Dad’s health have been steadily declining for over a year and that summary it stopped working and gone on long term disability.
Shortly after the turn of the new year with medical bills at multiplying and my dad’s salary declining my parents determine if they could no longer afford our mortgage payments we sold the home I grew up in and we moved to a smaller place in another town.
But until that box of presents arrive the week before Christmas I didn’t really comprehend our situation my confusion morphe to embarrassment and anger.

[27:22] I felt ashamed I put the pants on a hanger and shove them to the back corner of the closet.
The cassette tape to disappeared into a drawer and the paper backing it up on a little shelf I didn’t want direct line of sight to the Heralds of my family is swiftly to Clinic status I celebrated the Christmas presents I received that year for my family and I did my best to ignore the rest.

[27:44] I spent some time recently looking back and trying to understand my 18 year old sells feelings I think I was upset by the shock of the revelation.
And maybe I had a premonition that things were about to get worse I also think that my anger was rooted in some fundamental misunderstanding.
The Apostle Paul taught in Acts 20:35 that it is more blessed to give than to receive.
The obvious still horribly mistaken conclusion I came to back then was that there must be something wrong with receiving I wanted to be the person organizing the service project. The poor recipient ID need the former seem to be a blessed position the ladder.

[28:24] Today I still feel a little shame but it’s for my immature reaction to the generosity and kindness in 20 plus years since then I would like to think that I’ve gained some wisdom and understanding.
My favorite current favorites explanation of what it means to be a covenant member of God’s Church comes from Jose 18 with Alan explains to the people about to be baptized what they’re getting themselves into.
Being God’s people means that we are willing to Bear one another’s burdens mourn with those that mourn comfort those that stand in need of comfort and a stand as Witnesses of God at all times and in all things and in all places.
I used to understand each of those listed items as separate things.
But now I believe it on my has repeated the same concept for different ways bearing is morning is comforting is standing as a witness of God.
And the further key is understanding this duty is to realize that if you are a part of this Covenant group you not only must be ready to Bear burdens sympathetically mourn and give comfort you must be prepared to receive all of these things when you need them.
In this holy exchange both giving and receiving our ways to stand as Witnesses of God.

[29:35] Merry Christmas twin listeners sorry that this turned into a little bit of a sermon but I wanted to also give a Merry Christmas to the anonymous gifters of Christmas 1997.

[29:48] Please forgive me for not receiving well you blessed me and my brother even though I wasn’t ready to receive it I am now.

Geoff Openshaw:
[29:57] Jared gillins I love the common themes in some of those stories of sub for Santa.
Receiving gifts other individuals looking out for those who were perhaps less fortunate were going through lean times.

[30:12] I always see that a lot during the holidays we talked about it in our Ward them with our families.
And sometimes we perhaps to lean on the word apparatus to take care of it and we have a Giving Tree we have things along those lines that’s valuable but it also makes me wonder.
What else can we do individually or as a family what lessons can we teach our children about looking out for other individuals.

[30:35] I remember once when I was a young man this is not my main story by the way when I was tasked with helping the bishop deliver.
Christmas goods to some of the families in need in the war,
thing for me that took away the anonymity of the experience I remember going to some of these peoples houses to deliver them things and I said I know these people this is like my Scout advisor,
Oedipus have trusted me to be a part of that and not to look down on anyone or or help them feel like they were being ridiculed or or any kind of a project.
But it gave me a great insight into the fact that there are those around us many of whom we think we know who are potentially more need than even we realize.

[31:19] Who invented the twin sisters it wouldn’t be complete if Arianne was not here to join us as he tells us a moving tale about how lost both dominated the Christmas but also brought her family together.

[31:43] There’s one that stands out the most to me and that was Christmas 10 years ago Christmas of 2009
I was living just outside of Portland with my husband our oldest daughter was two and a half and I was pregnant 8 months pregnant with her second daughter.
It was about two weeks before Christmas and I got a call on a Friday morning from my stepmom who lived in Idaho where I grew up with my dad saying that my dad had,
was sick and they had taken him to the hospital at first she said,
you know she thinks everything’s okay the doctors didn’t seem that alarmed and she would keep us posted,
so as the morning went on she kept us posted and,
a few hours later she called back and said you know what I think you guys should come over to Idaho it’s not looking great she’s again said the doctors or.

[32:40] Seem to think everything’s okay but her gut feeling with it maybe we should just come,
just to see my dad just in case she just said she wasn’t sure what was going on so she felt like we should come so we quickly.
Dropped everything packed loaded up the car grab my daughter from preschool my husband came home from work and we left.
Fried how and as we’re driving on our way to calls are getting more frantic for my stepmom saying you really need to come you really need to get here so if course I am panicking we are flying through the state of Oregon.
At lightning speed we even got pulled over but did not get a ticket to the police officer had mercy on us he saw the sobbing
hugely pregnant women and the baby crying in the back seat and he let us go which I was so thankful for we arrive later that night at the hospital my dad was quickly
quickly deteriorating he had a blood clots and things were just quickly shutting down in his body and nobody seemed to know why.
When I got there he was still alert and we could still talk to him but it was clear it was going downhill quickly,
So within 24 hours after that we got all of our siblings there from out of state in the hospital with my dad and we were able to be with him.

[34:06] It very quickly got to the point where he had to be completely hooked up to Machinery to survive and we all had a very hard decision to make but we knew he would not want to live like that.
So we decided to let him go and a few hours later he passed away.
Completely surrounded by his kids and his wife and it was peaceful and it was an experience I will never forget it was amazing and horrible at the same time,
funny how that works anyways then we had the funeral a few days later,
and within a week I was back home in Oregon thinking will guide us what does happen.

[34:52] This was a huge loss for me I mean as it would be for most people my dad is not perfect but he was a good dad and we were really close my mom passed away when I was young.
So me and my dad were tight so I remember getting back to Oregon and I had some really just thoughtful friends that head,
play a beautiful Christmas wreath on my door while we were gone and I remember thinking oh yeah I guess it’s time for Christmas now this was about you know,
maybe 10 days less than 10 days before Christmas when we got back to Oregon and I remember just thinking I can’t let her ruin Christmas I can’t let it ruin Christmas.
Okay so you’re probably wondering why I decided to share about this Christmas because it sounds like it was full of sorrow and loss and depression and it was it definitely was.
But it was also a Christmas filled with hope and love and thankfulness for the savior.

[35:53] I remember sitting in sacrament meeting exactly a week later after I lost my dad and I remember seeing the opening him and I don’t know what it was one of the Christmas hymns and I remember just losing it and,
tears crying my husband probably was very concerned and it was because I was feeling all of the things I was feeling all of the sorrow but also all of the joy at the same time,
gratitude that the Savior was born.

[36:23] And that because he was born he died and then was resurrected and that just really took on a whole new meaning that you’re for me and my family that was obviously very quiet Christmas,
I had a little bit of sad Christmas by I also feel like I was kind of laser focus that Christmas on the things that really matter,
and the birth of our savior and especially looking back at it now I can just see how much,
God was with me through that time and how much I was able to see his hand and His blessings
as my family went through that tough time and I will just always remember that Christmas for that reason
and I still every year when we sing that first Christmas hymn
in church on Sunday in December guilty RI which makes me laugh cuz we used to tease my dad because he would always get teary during Christmas hymns and
patriotic him but I get a little teary-eyed
flood of emotions kind of comes back lots of feelings happy and sad feelings come back,
and that’s one thing I’ve definitely learned about grief it kind of hits you at random unexpected times and it comes back.

[37:39] So I guess is I share this story I just want our listeners to know that I recognize that holidays can be a time with all kinds of tender feelings and a whole spectrum of of feelings and emotions and,
I understand that I see you again it most importantly God sees you and he gets it and he,
can be there for us and that is just my hope and prayer for anybody that’s,
going through that this Christmas season and thank you for listening and I hope you all have a wonderful Merry Christmas.

Geoff Openshaw:
[38:23] N2u Arianne thank you for sharing that with us it’s comforting to remember that there is a God who knows us that he wants to bless us and heal us even in times of Sorrow.

[38:38] So as we wind down here.

[38:42] You probably want to hear a story from me presumably so and ends I’ve racked my brain for Meaningful content especially as I’ve listened to the wonderful words of our co-host Iran twin.
And anything I have pales in comparison to what they have to offer.
So I’m going to share with you something a little bit more humorous but something that’s meaningful for me and my family sometimes I find myself envious of my friends who grew up in small small towns.
Can I get that classic Hallmark Channel 5 although the Christmas cheer everyone knows everybody Traditional Values all that fun stuff and at the same time I’ve envied those who have been in.
PetSmart Urban environment surrounded by culture and all the life the permeate the city during the Christmas season.
Because I grew up in the suburbs like many of us and I grew up in Southern California and Orange County 30 miles Southeast of Los Angeles life for me was a sea of primarily post-war tract homes and sure while there were.

[39:49] Where is pockets of culture to be found anywhere that weren’t just Disneyland which was sort of our little country club in a way I guess.
It was still the suburbs and I’m going out to eat was going to Carl’s Junior.
And that was perhaps even more pronounced in the 1990s when the story takes place 1993 people clung to their fun Suburban lives and II.
I described 1993 which of the Jurassic Park came out the year of Bill Clinton started his presidency.
Beer cheers ended which mattered more to my parents and the year Frazier began which became far more enjoyable for me later on in my life all I happened in 93.
And of course in 1993 the American Mall.
Would still the place to be mixed-use developments boutiki shopping centers things haven’t taken over as much we were still quite content to go to one massive building.
And walk around and do our Christmas shopping e-commerce didn’t exist at the time AOL wasn’t even in full swing back that you couldn’t hear that great modem sound unless you were in to Prodigy and BBs is in those sorts of things.

[40:59] So in 1993 we ventured up as usual to make our annual Hajj to the Brea Mall which was really only about 10 minutes from my house
the Brea Mall is one of the largest malls in the Southland it had five major anchor department stores that take back then it was what JCPenney Macy’s Robinsons-May Sears and probably Nordstrom.
It had a lot it was a big mall there’s a sort of mall where during the Christmas season you could easily Circle,
the whole property and its environs for an hour just to find a parking space cuz I have the place to go there is nowhere else to go,
I wasn’t even a thing that you know there was nowhere to go you go to the mall since I was a bit older I was 12 my older sister was 15 would usually break off a little bit.
My younger siblings would go with my parents whichever one my parents were divorced by then.
And run along and then do shopping my sister and I would go do our own thing you know secretively hide things and bags and try to be sneaky about Christmas I never called vividly there was a store that specializes in calendars.

[42:07] I don’t know what it was called I remember it was probably nestled between a Coach store and a SAM goody something like that.
The store just had calendars who doesn’t like nice calendar I still appreciate a good calendar today and we want to do some calendar shopping for our loved ones.
Now going back to the year the 90s
MTV was real then and I admitted that age I would probably try to just sneak it it was forbidden in my household but I would just going to sneak it in and watch it but there was one show I didn’t really pay much attention to probably cuz of the hour it was on but,
but I heard the cool kids talking about it and that was the Beloved program Beavis and Butthead,
if you’re not familiar with that beautiful Bastion of 90s culture there was a crudely animated cartoon show,
where two characters named Beavis and Butt-head pretty much just watch TV and beat each other up,
and comment on music videos,
it was very popular at the time and my father also hated it he didn’t watch it.

[43:14] And I thought it was funny cuz my father was actually more of the crude edgier humored one of my two parents but he was aware of it and he thought it was the trash of America.
So when Christmas time rolled around we were at the calendar store my sister and I are monks are many legitimate gifts.
Found a Beavis and Butthead calendar we looked at each other with joy,
and said we have to get this for Dad this will be a hilarious joke gift and we love joke gifts as a family so about the calendar hit it from view wrapped it up how do we fast forward to Christmas morning.
We’re hanging out with my dad he opens gifts lots of good lovely things I ran I remember none of them but I do remember when he opened the Beavis and Butt-head calendar.
He was a guest of bemused might be an expression I think you saw the humor in it but he also just kind of looked at us like are you serious this is what you’re giving me and I said oh yes Father this is a gift from me to you.
I love you that’s how we say I love you in the open jar family I pretty much thought that was it.

[44:24] You know you’re dumb GIF dad put me put it on your wall.

[44:29] Christmas 1994 rolls around and as I’m opening gifts and doing all the excited things that a 13 year old boy does around Christmas I open one gift and what do I see but a perfectly shrink-wrapped.
1994 Beavis and Butthead calendar.

[44:48] My father did not just re-gift here we get to the gift that couldn’t even be used anymore because the entire calendar year was now behind us.

[44:56] We laughed about it and he cracked up it became does funny thing that he retroceded a gift to me that he hated sort of us a joke.
But also it was done I would say with a little bit of guile and.
But it didn’t really ended there so I decided it was upon me and 1995 then give the calendar to another sibling most likely.
Still shrink-wrapped never opened never perused in any way and this began one of the strangest openshaw family traditions.

[45:31] Where someone has the Beavis and Butt-head calendar and it’s a tradition that we carry on to this day and it’s weird how things like that can be meaningful.

[45:42] It’s become almost something of a family heirloom it is never been opened it is still in its original packaging and I I swear if that shrink wrap were to tear if we were to accidentally rifle through the pages I feel like I had dropped a flag on the ground,
and it was Irreplaceable it was gone forever at this point.
As our families have grown as we’ve given it to parents to step parents to in-laws whoever maybe it has become a big deal we probably spent more money shipping it around,
cuz when we were kids and we kept it in the house but nowadays we probably spent more money shipping that calendar around then we ever paid to acquire.
And the first place I had it as recently as Christmas of last year 2018 tonight I mailed it to my sister-in-law and I was pleased to hear when she opened it she exclaimed.
Something along the lines of is it that stupid calendar your family passes around it’s her first time so we’ll give her a pass.

[46:45] I know this isn’t necessarily a spiritual story but it’s something that means a lot to me.
Good families have traditions and hopefully your Traditions are rooted in something either completely esoteric something helping the community whatever it might be but if you build those traditions.
They bring us together as a family,
I hope we never open that calendar I hope it just keeps getting passed around that blue cover with a terrible artwork.

[47:14] It’s worth noting by the way I’ve checked eBay many times but I do hope didn’t I don’t know 30 years.
I can sell it and pay for my grandchildren’s college.

[48:00] Too close and if you’ve heard plenty from me I would like to bring it back to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ won’t be serious about this for a second if I may.

[48:11] From what if you haven’t seen that new Nativity video go watch it it’s wonderful.
And watching that video made me think a lot about the birth of the Savior you know we’re familiar with many of the basic tenets of the story of the birth of Christ,
Roman Empire Control Judea at the time they were carrying out a general taxing and census of the Empire and so Joseph and Mary travel to Bethlehem.
Of course which is where a Joseph family was from nervous pregnant,
but not with Joseph child and I think sometimes we overlook this we know a lot about the divine nature of Mary but we know very little about Joseph in fact there’s he doesn’t under a single word in Scripture that we are aware of but we know he was a righteous man think of his face.
Under Jewish law Joseph had two options when he learned of Mary’s pregnancy,
you could have either had Mary tried in public and condemned possibly resulting in her death because she as far as the people were concerned she cheated on him or he could have privately severed his spousal contract with her.

[49:13] Does Joseph love married and want to have her endure pain or torment and we knew that Joseph struggled with this entire situation that’s why an angel appeared to him and directed him to take Mary as his wife in the comfort him I love the story.
Of christ-like love and compassion from the very man who son Jesus was not.

[49:35] I was only acting through Love & Mercy in the first place did Joseph receive that witness that his role was much more important than that of just a mere husband.
And of course we’re familiar with alive the rest of the story of the birth in Bethlehem but an interesting aside as we talked about the shepherd’s they were not ordinary Shepherds.
In fact under Jewish law the only shepherding allowed near cities and towns which raise animals for sacrifice,
at least these are Shepherds raising animals that had to be perfect,
without blemish I find so much extra symbolism there the flocks of these Shepherds were meant to be offered up as symbolism for the very baby.
Vanillite in their midst.

[50:19] And that has even other dualities because Jesus is simultaneously the Lamb of God and the Good Shepherd the Lamb of God because he offered up the final sacrifice of blood so that we may live as a Good Shepherd because without his guidance love would be lost.
There’s something wonderful about that perhaps you watch the A Christmas Carol this holiday season we’re all familiar with that of course.
Scrooge is visited by three different ghost experiences lot what life would be like in different circumstances,
how do you looks outward and inward for his Joy he finds the kindness compassion and generosity improve not just the lives of the people around him but at his own.
Emily Reed story like a Christmas Carol We routinely focus on the Christmas spirit which I guess is
described as a vague sense of Charity happiness do-gooder rewrite in fact after the publication of A Christmas Story local newspapers noted a sudden burst of charitable behavior in Britain.
It’s awesome and it’s at the same time unfortunate that the selfless act become popular because a piece of literature not because of Devotion to Christ for example.

[51:27] When are we adequately commemorating Christ’s birth year round it’s great that we focus in the Christmas season to help others I hope we do.
But I also hope we do it on January 1st I hope I do hope all of us get that opportunity to remember that as Christ said.
Love thy neighbor as thyself there is no other commandment greater than these that’s the best bit right there.

[51:52] I like to think everybody here this week in Mormons for taking the time to produce these pieces your time is valuable and I appreciate you allowing me to pester you,
I with all these these requests so we hope this has been useful and I hope all of you have a wonderful Christmas that it’s full of life and love and that you’re able to take some time and think about,
our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who is our savior and how I look greatly.

[52:22] Talk to you again next week I’m Geoff openshaw for Tiffany Devin Al current Jared and Ariana thank you very much for listening and we all wish you a Merry Christmas.

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