Duty in a ‘me first’ world – New York News

Duty in a ‘me first’ world – New York News.

Resolved!

http://www.billionclicks.org/blog/2013-12-31/resolve-to-have-a-good-day-day-by-day/

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The Christmas Coats – The Symonds Family Favorite Christmas Story

Hi Friends and Family,

This was a story I submitted this year for a contest. It was a loser to everyone but our family. This was the experience that changed us all forever.

christmas tree 2013

The Christmas Coat

It was an unusually cold snowy winter and I thought we were very poor. I knew our 6 children would want toys for Christmas, but was grateful my mother had offered to buy them new coats, gloves and hats. This year, coats would be their big gift.

Christmas Eve at Grandma’s, I wrestled my two boy’s beloved old leather bomber jackets away from them. They complained as I put on their new “Grandma” approved practical coats, knit gloves and hats. We went out into the freezing air and loaded everyone into our frigid old Volkswagen Van.

We drove our rattletrap on salted slushy roads into Salt Lake’s Temple Square to see the Christmas lights. It was so cold the heater couldn’t keep up. The A.M. radio was crackling Christmas Carols when the local D.J. made an important announcement. Due to record cold temperatures and snowfall, local homeless shelters were bursting at the seams. Residents were in dire need of coats and blankets. They listed several addresses. One of the homeless shelters was only a few exits away.

We quickly decided we would take the children’s old coats to a shelter and donate them. I explained to my children that we were going to make a detour and donate their used coats. I watched my 3-year old and 7-year old boys burst into tears at the thought of giving away their ragged, but well-loved bomber jackets.

I gave them a minute to calm down, and then I reminded them that everything we had was a blessing from Heavenly Father. It was important that we share all the blessings we had with others in need. They wailed, having heard me say it before. No new toys were allowed into the house, until we donated the old ones. No new clothes purchased, until we shared the old ones with those that were even poorer than we were, if that was possible.

We slid down the icy off ramp and putted to a stop next to a snow bank that was higher than the van in the shelter parking lot. The shelter looked like it used to be a supermarket. I decided it would be a good experience for the kids to carry in their own coats. It was with great reluctance and even a little belligerence that they gathered their old things and got out of the van. We trudged toward the shelter doors, which looked like automatic doors on a grocery store.

The doors to the shelter slid open and a man in a lightweight shirt came out towards us pushing a grocery cart full of sheets of newspaper. “All full! All Full!” He shouted at us as he waved one of his arms, warning us it was not to try to check in. “They are totally full,” he explained. “But not to worry. They are serving Christmas dinner under the freeway. It will be hot and good. I can take you.” Then he turned and waved his arms motioning us to follow.

My heart caught in my throat as I realized he thought we were homeless like him. Not only that, but here he was homeless, alone and willing to take care of a family of 8 people. Without a thought, he was caring for us.

“No,” I stopped him. “We aren’t staying, we are just bringing coats.”

He startled, stopped and paused long enough to truly take us in. My children, as shocked as I was raised their coats to show him.

“Look kids, its coats!” He exclaimed. With that, the newspapers in his shopping cart parted and two of the thinnest children I had ever seen emerged wearing only short-sleeved t-shirts. Time stood still, my gut wrenched and I felt my heart tear as tears stung my eyes.

Before I could respond, my children began throwing their old coats into the basket as the small children inside squealed with joy and put them on. Then my kids threw in their new hats and gloves. He thanked us, and hurried off to get in line for dinner under the freeway.

Slowly we turned and were changed forever. We have all talked about it again and again. We learned two great lessons that Christmas. First, no matter how poor you are, you always have something to give, even if it is directions to a dinner being served under the freeway. Second, never judge anyone. You never know who the next angel you meet will be. Just when you think you are working on your wings, a homeless man pushing a shopping cart full of precious cargo will show you the true spirit of Christmas.

A Symonds Christmas Card

Salt Lake Temple Christmas Lights

Salt Lake Temple Christmas

I love music. For some years I lived in Utah, where I met Scott. Many years ago I worked near Temple Square at Christmas time with my dear friend Yvonne. We both sang in the Bountiful High Choir. My favorite carol was and still continues to be, “O’Come, Emmanuel. We worked at the Lion House or old Governors Mansion. After serving we worked in the Kitchen, where the acoustics were best. I remember singing the following sweet song after all the guests had gone home. Today, I found this version and wanted to share it with my friends and family.

Or https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2012-00-0120-o-come-emmanuel-christmas-version?lang=eng

The Symonds Family has a long-standing tradition of trying our hardest to keep Christ in Christmas. Every year, when I wrap packages, even though I sign them, “from Blessings.” This year is no different from any other. It has been full of miracles, exciting changes and new babies. It has also been a year of great loss. Because of that great loss, I am more grateful than ever before this Christmas for the gift of the Savior, the atonement for my sins and eternal life.

The Savior gave his life and in doing so gave us the greatest gift of all time, the gift of more time.  I am grateful for eternal life, and with that another chance to hug lost family members and be a friend to those we lost this year. Good-bye Maggie, Mark, Mike and Tryg for now, only for now. 

Here is a wonderful family version of the The True Story of Christmas: The Nativity by LDS.org. This is how I pictured the Savior. He smiles, he touches everyone he blesses. I believe it was his arms that welcomed my friends home.

With every year our family grows. Fisher Symonds weighed in this year at 10 pounds. Joe is proud and Lindsay is amazing. Maya calls him, “my Fisher.” He is a typical Symonds, big and content.

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The Symonds also have another long-standing tradition. It is the tradition of believing in miracles. We pay our tithing, do our best and trust. This year, Scott opened his business doors full-time and thanks to our generous and beloved Seaside has been busy. He continued to teach at the college and loves each and every student.

the jeep

Erin and I have been writing. Together and separately we have published 184 pieces this year for Deseret Digital Media’s Familyshare.com. I also published a few for Hilary Weeks website Billionclicks.org/blog.

For my day job, I am working at Providence for the best boss I have ever had. I have the privilege of working with people I truly love. I love my job. They let me write on the walls!

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Yesterday, Scott cut a hole in a wall for me, and I will be setting up a full-time art studio so I can paint more often.

This year Scott Donated a 300 dollar detail from the “Scottys Can Do Shop” to the Providence Seaside Festival of the trees.

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Our Christmas Miracle will be all 6 children coming home for Christmas. I believe it is the first time in almost 5 years. Time for another torturous family photo, right guys?! (Don’t tell them about the picture or they won’t show up.)

Time for a new photo! shhhh

Just a quick run down of the Symonds kids for the year:

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Erin and Mark bought a beautiful new home in Farmington Utah.

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Jamie and Alan finally came home to Seaside. Jamie has her own little studio and is painting and doing woodwork. Alan is landscaping.

Jamie and Alan

Joe and Lindsay had Fisher. Joseph finished Lineman’s School and Joe is working near Salem. He will commute.

fisher

Joel is recovering from a tumor removed from his foot and in the Army in Colorado Springs, Colorado. That is Charlotte holding him up. She is living in Longview and we love having her visit! Hope we see you for Christmas Charlotte.

joel charlotte

Jodi and Becca have rented an adorable house and Jodi got a job this year working for the Department of Human Services – Child Welfare (like her Mama). AND guess who can cook! Jodi is an amazing cook!

jodi thanksgiving

Trish is just finishing a term of School while trying to be a Mom. Oh soo hard! Russell is about to start in January. They rented a cute house and he works in a Potato Chip Factory.

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So just to leave you smiling. Here is a little movie from my funny sister Sara. She always makes me laugh and smile.

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P.S. Next year…..Temple Square in December. Start saving kids!

Sweet and Simple like the Symonds

Christmas 2012

“Trusting that Christ loves us and wants to gather us back to Him inspires involvement to the best of our capacity. Actively striving to remember Him always – even in our ordinary and mundane tasks – helps us to experience His Spirit more fully and motivates us to strive to obediently keep his commandments. These actions bind us to the Lord – and Him to us.”

Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt, “Living Your Covenants Every Day

I love tradition. I love it so much that I had created an enormous amount of Christmas traditions and a monster load of work for myself. After hearing Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt speak about living intentionally and focusing on the rituals of our daily tasks, I asked myself how my traditions led my family closer to Christ and positive living.

The Symonds Family 12 Traditions of Christmas:

  1. Cut a fresh tree on a tree farm the day after Thanksgiving.
  2. Spend every day in December together baking cookies, candies and treats while watching old Christmas Movies.
  3. All Family members must participate in the family Christmas Eve beach walk.
  4. Take plates of goodies to friends and neighbors Christmas Eve.
  5. Invite every friend, neighbor and missionary to our home that doesn’t have anywhere else to go Christmas eve.
  6. Dress children up and reenact the Nativity on Christmas Eve prior to opening any gifts.
  7. The Elves bring new pajamas to the stockings on Christmas Eve (so the kids look like their mother cares in Christmas photos).
  8. Stay up all hours setting out treat tables, laying the fire, wrapping gifts and making homemade cinnamon rolls.
  9. All gifts are labeled from blessings not Santa. If it is labeled from Santa, you have a gift from a relative, friend or your parents have re-gifted.
  10. One person is chosen to be the elf and pass out gifts. They must wear a stupid elf hat.
  11. We open gifts one at a time and take turns in order of age, youngest to oldest. We take time to be gratefull and really enjoy each package. It can take more than an hour, way more….
  12. We eat until we are sick and sleep all day Christmas due to paralyzing exhaustion.

As I thought about living intentionally and bringing my family closer to the Savior, I wondered what all this work and fun was teaching my family? I decided to take a poll.

First I called my oldest child Erin.

Erin said, “It is not what you get, but what you give that really matters. A few weeks after Christmas what we received wasn’t fun anymore. What we gave to friends, family and people in need still makes me happy. The feeling that I got from giving stayed with me longer than the gifts I received.”

So I thought, all that shopping for just the right gift was a lot less important than the time I took to take them to donate at the homeless shelter and other service opportunities. Wow, I had raised a great girl!

Then I wondered what all the hysterical laughter was in the back ground of our call. “What are you doing?” I asked Erin.

“Making Madeline (her 18-month old) chase a laser pointer. It’s very entertaining.” Yup, a great girl.

I called Joseph and asked what he learned from our family Christmas traditions. He said, “It was the preparation….cutting the tree. On the years we prepared ahead, it built up to a good Christmas. It brought the spirit of Christmas… all our gifts were marked from blessings.”

Trish said that Christmas and reenacting the nativity story every Christmas Eve taught her that the scriptures were real. She said Christmas was the first time she became interested in what other stories might be in the scriptures that were also real.

Joel said it wasn’t about the gifts he received but the time we spent together.

Wow! I wish I would have known no one was appreciated the gifts!  l thought about all the years, that unknown to our children, we worried about how we would make their toy dreams come true and realize we did not need to worry.

And so…after talking with my family, I have decided to keep the 12 traditions of Christmas. However, this year as I bake, decorate and make costumes for Mary and baby Jesus, I will do it with intention. I will be focused on the positive importance of each sweet and simple thing that brings my family closer to Christ and each other.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0n_93sNsUU

 

Nativity 2012

Nativity 2012

Secret Service Link

Hi All,

I just wanted to share Secret Service

AND say last week for the coupon. Order your clicker kit and get your free clicker at Billionclicks.org.

Clicker Kit Coupon

Shannon

Sharing Billionclicks!

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http://www.billionclicks.org/blog/2013-11-12/the-thank-you-experiment/

Just a reminder to check out the november coupon below!

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