Saturday, December 20, 2008

Another Party...Over. YAY!

Can my feet hurt any worse? The ward Christmas party is over. Now, I can focus on my own home and family for Christmas. Maybe I'll even get the tree decorated today.

I finally had to head home after 'most' of the clean-up was done. I just couldn't do it any longer. My feet - especially my bad one - hurt so badly that I knew if I didn't leave right then, that I would not be able to walk today. So I headed out, dropped off all the ice chests at Lori's house, and went home. I put the food away that I brought home and sat down on the sofa. Within about 15 minutes, I was out. I knew it wouldn't take long. I was exhausted. I'd only had about 2 hours of sleep the night before. I'd even fallen asleep here at the computer while trying to design the vinyl for the "inn" and "stable" signs for the skit we did, which, in turn, made me late to help finish setting up.

The night started off well. There was a TON of food (and a ton of leftovers). It all tasted really well too. Have you ever cooked a turkey in one of those bags? I've always been extremely skeptical about having to pay for a bag to put my turkey in when all I really need to do is seal a bunch of tin foil over my roasting pan. However, all of the turkeys were cooked this way for the party and I have to say...those were the moistest turkeys I have EVER eaten! (In fact, I'm knoshing on a turkey leg for breakfast right now!) You can bet I will be trying it this way the next time I make a turkey (which won't likely be until next Thanksgiving, but you never know!)

After I was able to snarf down some food (you know...the committee always eats last...IF there's food left), we started our program. I started by sharing my experience that I had back on November 12th about driving to work and seeing a "star."

We’d like to thank you for coming to our ward Christmas Party this evening. We hope you have enjoyed the food and fellowship that has abounded here tonight.

Christmas, this year, is sure to be a little more scaled back than in years past for many of us with the economy the way it is right now. In many ways, it has helped us turn our thoughts and celebrations back to the Savior and His birth instead of the worldly view of Christmas with Santa and shopping, etc. I know that I, personally, have done so as I have struggled to feel the “Christmas Spirit” this year. However, as I was driving to work one morning recently, I had a glorious experience.

I started to leave Surprise and head out over "the bridge." The sun was barely starting to come up on the eastern horizon. Not enough to really light the sky or anything, but just enough that I could see the silhouette of the mountains far, far off in the distance and I could see the silhouettes of a few palm trees in front of me.

Then, it happened. I noticed it. A single, solitary, bright light in the sky. It was flickering, as if to say, I'm here - notice me! I did and I got the softest, yet strongest, coolest, but warmest, feeling ever. It felt as if I was there, on that sacred night 2008 years ago when the Savior of the world was born. Granted, I was in a truck, with lots and lots of other cars zipping past me because it caught me so off-guard that I must have certainly slowed down to 20 MPH in a 45 zone, but it was so worth it. I imagined being there, seeing that star, and I KNEW that this gospel is true and that Jesus Christ is my Savior and brother. It was one of the most wonderful feelings I've ever had. It totally refocused me on the true meaning of Christmas.

Tonight, we bring you back to the time of the Savior’s birth and we hope you will remember the true reason for this season as we share with you a simple, spiritual Christmas message rather than that of the world and Santa and hope you will feel that same spirit that I did that early morning a few weeks ago. Please join us in singing Silent Night at the end.

We asked the Jacksons to portray Mary and Joseph. They dressed in traditional dress from the period and we had them start at the back of the room. "Brother" Heeter (he's not a member, but his wife is) held the spotlight on them as they "wandered" through the people and I read parts of the Christmas story from Luke 2.

Mary and Joseph are outside of the cultural hall near one of the doors near the overflow portion of the cultural hall (opposite end of the cultural hall from the stage end). When the reader begins reading, Mary & Joseph enter the cultural hall. Spotlight will be shown on them as they wander toward the “Inn.” Mary should look as if in pain and about to deliver her unborn child. Joseph should be comforting and tender to her. They should appear to be searching for a place for her to give birth.

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

Pause as Mary & Joseph continue to move closer to stage.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

Pause as Mary & Joseph continue to move closer to stage.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

Mary & Joseph have made their way to the “Inn”. They knock on the door of the “Inn”. The innkeeper holds the door open slightly, not showing himself, and asks…


Excuse me, Innkeeper, my wife is great with child, about to be delivered, and we have need of a place to stay. Have you any room in your inn?

I have not any room for you; however, use of my stable over there is yours.
(pointing to the other door marked with the “Stable” sign)

Mary and Joseph (again, portraying a woman near to giving birth and Joseph comforting her) walk to the door marked with the “Stable” sign.

Joseph looks at Mary with questioning eyes and asks…

Are you sure?

Mary looks in the "stable" and nods her approval slowly. He helps her through the door.

Portable spotlight goes out.

Once the door closes, Mary quickly removes the pillow or such item making her appear pregnant. The baby is handed to her and Mary & Joseph quickly make their way to the stage. They position the baby either on the hay with them at the sides of the bay or in Mary’s arms while she sits on the hay and Joseph stands nearby. (Actor preference)

Person who had been holding baby opens curtain. Curtain opens with spotlight on stage shining down on Mary & Joseph. As curtain begins to open, Reader begins reading again.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Pianist begins playing introduction to Silent Night. Congregation will sing all three verses of Silent Night.

It was amazing how once the program got going, the children were all very quiet and you could feel the Spirit take over the room. As I shared my personal experience, I teared up a few times and my emotions overcame me. THIS is what Christmas is ALL about...the birth of our Savior! Not the presents, not the parties, not Santa. There is only one true reason for this season...His birth. Without that one particular reason, we would not have Christmas at all.

As we sang Silent Night in very low light, with Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus up on the stage for all to see, my heart was full of Christmas spirit. I was so GRATEFUL that I'd had this struggle this year with feeling the spirit because it truly forced me to focus on the real meaning. It gave me new vigor to ready things for our special, traditional Christmas Eve. It gave me peace.

I don't know if people were upset that Santa didn't show up for the party or not, but how could they be with the spirit that was in the room that night? The kids all seemed to forget that Santa wasn't there too. The feeling that was there was just undeniable.

As I drove through the night to drop off a few items after the party, I 'saw' the snowmen and the santas in people's yards but the nativities and the crosses were the ones that really caught my attention. This is definitely a Christmas I won't forget.

Oh yeah...and Feliz Navidad started playing on the radio just as I got in the truck to head home. I guess Mom had been with me all evening too.

1 comment:

Cindy said...

I'm so glad it all went well. Both events. I hope your feet feel better. Did you try icing them? That always helps mine.

I've never used a turkey bag either. But I have heard so much about how good the turkeys are this year from those who have, so I'll have to try it next time.