I suspect that a message that most human beings absorb growing up is that we should exercise some caution in our love. That love is always a risk, that it opens you up to being vulnerable, that you can get deeply wounded if you get too drawn in by love’s currents and run into troubled waters. That the people whom you love the most are also the ones who can hurt you the most. So we learn to hesitate, to look before we leap, to take care, to think in advance about what might go wrong. Sometimes we may let ourselves get swept up in it despite all this, an experience which can be both giddy and terrifying. But we also often build walls, sometimes as thick as we can make them, in hopes of protecting ourselves from getting too invested, from caring too much.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Ostracized by his family and friends because of his freakish red nose, Rudolph the reindeer runs away to the Island of Misfit Toys. While there, he learns about the Unwritten Order of Things and realizes that even though Santa’s secret Reindeer Handbook explicitly says that nose color doesn’t matter when reindeer are chosen to pull his sleigh on Christmas Eve, what this actually means is that nose color conformity is absolutely essential. Armed with this knowledge, Rudolph decides to undergo a painful operation to permanently change the color of his nose. He is welcomed with open hooves when he returns to his family and friends, and he secures a coveted spot on Santa’s reindeer team.
I love Christmas carols. In a typical year, I start listening to Christmas music by October at the latest, just to make sure I can be sure to enjoy it fully by the time Christmas actually rolls around. So it makes me sad that we have space for only 14 Christmas hymns in our hymnal. It’s not a big surprise, given that it’s not a lengthy hymnal1 to begin with, but it’s still unfortunate.
I thought it might be an interesting exercise to consider which of the 14 I might be willing to give up, and which ones I might like to add to take their place. Perhaps I’ll even think of an extra few to add in case we one day get a super-sized hymnal. Read More
Nearly a decade ago I was a missionary, serving for three weeks in the Provo MTC before moving on to a smaller MTC in Latin America for the remainder of my Spanish language training. While I was in Provo, Sister Cheiko Okazaki (1926-2011), the former first counselor of the Relief Society General Presidency, came and spoke to the Sister missionaries. (I was sad, after hearing her, that the Elders had not been invited as well.)
I have always loved Sister Okazaki’s thoughts. In her books and public speaking, she quotes often from the Bible. Her advice that day in the MTC was both practical and inspiring, a discussion of dealing with feelings of inadequacy and hypocrisy, of “putting on Christ,” and of navigating the need to forgive ourselves and others on our journey. It was filled with metaphors from scripture about clothing and Christian discipleship. Read More
As we’re sure many of you are already aware, Janet of FMH is spearheading an effort to buy animals for those who need them through Heifer International. Her post, with further details, can be found here . As she explains, you can either make a General Team Donation to Team Bloggernacle, or, if you prefer, you can set up your own page for a mere $10 administrative fee.
I will be the first to admit it. In constrast to my five Christmas-maniac sisters, I’m a Scrooge. I find December by far the most stressful month of the year, thanks to papers, finals, grading, parties, overflowing malls, cards, baking, jammed airports, stressed-out travelers, delayed and cancelled flights, and the short, gray days that inevitably kick my chronic depression into overdrive. When the holidays begin at Thannksgiving, I’m always irritable and grumpy about them. I let my husband decorate the tree, hang the stockings, put the wreath on the door, and play the Christmas music and tell him not to bother me with any of it until the semester ends. I’m not much of a shopper or a socializer under the best of circumstances, and I always spend the first weeks of December feeling too exhausted even to think about Christmas as I pull all-nighters writing papers I no longer care about and memorize paradigms and fantasize about watching Infomercials and reading nothing more challenging than soup cans. Every year I threaten to buy myself a Bah, Humbug T-shirt. Read More
Dr. Seuss got at least one thing right: music is absolutely essential to any celebration of Christmas, perhaps even the most essential element; for me, the day the Christmas season begins is the day I bust out my collection of Christmas CDs (though I admit, I often cheat and start singing Christmas music in October or November, even though I refrain from listening to it that early). This year I recently compiled a list of about 80 most cherished Christmas songs, my favorite of which is actually not a Christmas song at all but an Advent song: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. Of course, my choices are guided chiefly by music, but this 12th- or 13th-century Gregorian chant is the setting for wonderfully gloomy, plaintive, moving lyrics, answered antiphonally in the refrain by the promise of deliverance–as one popular translation from the Latin original renders two of the verses: