Christmas Selfies

Last Saturday we had our ward’s Christmas Brunch. I love that it’s a morning activity and that it’s early in the holiday season — it’s a great way to get things rolling before life gets too hectic.

We made winter kits to hand out to homeless people, and William got a chance to visit with Santa:

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Eleanor, William and Katie participated in the Primary Nativity program. William was a cow, Katie a sheep, and Eleanor an angel. So sad to realize that Eleanor won’t be in this next year.

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Katie’s right in front, Eleanor is the angel in back to the right. I have no idea where William is.

I was asked to give a little “spiritual thought” after the nativity was finished. I kept it short and sweet — this is what I wrote:

My favorite Christmas Eve memory is from when I was eight years old, and I found a strange man sleeping on the couch in my family’s living room.

What’s even stranger is that when the man sat up, I began jumping around the room because I was so happy.

Because that’s when I realized that the stranger was really Brother Anderson, my family’s home teacher, and the reason he was sleeping on the couch is because my parents had gone to the hospital the night before for the birth of my new baby brother, Erich.

It was a novelty that we knew that he was going to be a boy — ultrasounds had just become part of standard prenatal care. I remember my dad coming home and taking us to the hospital that day to see Erich. I remember taking my Walkman and some cassettes — Sesame Street Disco — and my favorite Care Bear with me in the car because it was a 45 minute drive to the hospital.

My mom says she always regrets her decision to come home early from the hospital so she could be with us on Christmas Day. But we all were so happy to put a little yellow bassinet under the tree with our new baby inside. That evening I sat next to the tree and held Erich in my arms, gently rocking him while singing “Jolly Old St. Nicholas” over and over again until he fell asleep.

And I remember: this is the first time I knew, even at age eight, I knew I would remember that moment for the rest of my life. It was the first time my mind held up its mental camera and went, “click!” I could almost hear the shutter closing.

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This is the picture I took while giving my talk. Note how many people are taking pictures!

I have a friend who is a photographer, and she is always encouraging people to go ahead and take more pictures with their phones: friends, family, food, whatever. This is one of the oldest methods people have of showing their love and affection of something: we make an image of it. We take a selfie. We share them with friends, whether in a photo album, or with social media.

But even better than a physical or digital photo is the one we can take mentally — turn to our family, our friends, and think, “click!” This is something I’m going to consciously remember for a long time. This is my Christmas selfie.

Better than that, try to take a Christmas “selfie” of Christ’s gospel and mission this season. Is it in the love and service you give to others? That you receive from others? The warmth of the Spirit you feel while singing a Christmas carol? When you see Christ, do you see yourself — the best version of yourself?

Perhaps you are having a difficult time with Christmas this year, perhaps you’ve suffered some losses. Maybe your mental camera is clicked to the off button. Please remember that even if your mental camera can’t focus this year, Christ is still with you — has never forgotten you, has an eternal eye turned towards you as a resource for help and guidance. This is the kind of selfie that will never turn yellow or get lost in a digital dustbin — when we take upon ourselves the name of Christ and keep working to be more like Him.

Never forget that our Heavenly Parents are with us not just during the Christmas season but all year round. It will be the Christmas selfie that lasts.

I think it wasn’t so bad — I told Brian I was trying to “channel my inner Uchtdorf.”

The next day we took time to visit one of our favorite Christmas events — the Festival of the Nativity in Bellevue. This is put on by a group of stakes out by the temple, and the level of organization and attention to detail is astounding. We missed going to it last year (owing to a mix-up, I was coaxed into accompanying a violinist at a similar festival in Tacoma, which wasn’t nearly as nice, and the drive home was terrible) so it was especially great to be there again.

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Katie is holding the checklist for the children’s scavenger hunt. William was the best at it and helped everyone find the hardest items.
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Oh, Jeff.

Jeff was especially intrigued by the new Family Search center that was recently added to the stake center there. So many techy gadgets — but it was a little crowded, so I didn’t stay long.

My favorite creche this time was one from Nepal. The little beads! The details! So cute!

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Once again, we dressed up as the Holy Family, and once again the kids made me be Mary because those Three Kings outfits are so alluring.

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This year, I even managed to get the kids to sit still and listen to the live music for a few moments before we headed back home. How lovely and peaceful — I love that my brood is beginning to appreciate quiet, beautiful things.

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