Monday, January 21, 2013

Two Things

First thing.
Guys! Guys.  I'm really good at my job.

Today, I spent 10 1/2 hours typesetting.  Right around hour 7, InDesign decided it wanted to be cute with me.  Behold, InDesign:MineSweeper:

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No, I don't know how that happened, either.

I got the typeset back to normal for a minute, but I guess InDesign was feeling really needy and/or special, because then it decided to do this:

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That's when Sam and I decided we should quit and start the program up again.  I FINISHED the typeset (yay!), which was very exciting because it's my first finished typeset.  I didn't do the first six chapters, but I did the rest of the book.  So Sam was walking me through the finishing stages, which include scrolling through the entire book one paragraph at a time to look for extra spaces and missed chapter headings and whatever all else.  

Hey, remember that typeset I was tellin' you about?
Ruined it.
Found an entire chapter that I had not formatted smack in the middle of the thing.  Yay.  We spent an hour trying to salvage what we could, but the stress of the situation at the end of a 10 1/2-hour workday proved to be too much for me.  I had a mini nervous breakdown and Sam dragged me home.  She has to spend a few hours tomorrow fixing it. 

Sam awarded me with this for something completely unrelated, but I'm pretty sure I earned it today:


Second thing.
I gave a talk in church yesterday.  You can read it if you want to.

Theme: Christmas in the Rearview Mirror



Topic: The Worst Christmas Ever

Don’t answer this question out loud, but think about it: how many of you have already put your Christmas decorations away?  When did you do it?  Boxing Day?  New Year’s Eve?  Last night?  My Christmas tree is still up.  I put it up in November, and it’ll probably stick around until May, much to my roommates’ chagrin.

I can’t help it.  That’s the way I was raised.  My mother famously said that she started listening to Christmas music in January.  She shopped for presents throughout the year.  She made Christmas a big deal.  Because of her efforts, Christmas surpassed Saint Patrick’s Day as my favorite holiday somewhere around my ninth birthday.  Now I celebrate it with all the fervor of an overzealous Who.

Although Christmas holds a special place in my heart, or maybe because it holds a special place in my heart, I’ve had three Christmases that are humdinger contenders for the worst Christmas ever.

The last Christmas with my mother was wonderful and terrible.  We knew we were blessed to have that extra time with her, but we also knew it was the last Christmas we would have together.  Every gift was special.  My mom invited a family friend who had nowhere else to go that year (which was so typical of my mother).  We watched lots of movies, ate fancy meals, laughed about gag gifts, and enjoyed each others’ company.  But it was all soured by the whispers of death that swept a steady undercurrent through our traditions and conversations and gift-giving.  

Then there was the Christmas after my mother died.  We were in a new house with really weird architecture, so there wasn’t much room.  We were all crammed into a tiny penta/hexagonal-ish living room.  Throughout the morning, someone would open a gift and get really excited about it, and my dad would say quietly, “Your mother picked that out for you.”  Christmas, which is usually loud and boisterous and something worth remembering, was subdued--it didn’t really feel like Christmas.

This year was our first Christmas with a blended family.  It’s hard to try to reconcile two sets of traditions.  It’s hard to open your heart to dozens of strangers and suddenly have to call them family.  It’s just hard.

But the thing is, it’s Christmas.  These were very difficult situations, and they dampened the cheer of the season, but they could not smother it entirely because Christmas is so much more than two or three days of chaotic family gatherings, even if those gatherings include a reenactment of the Nativity and stories about “the true meaning of Christmas.” (which is a phrase that I kind of hate) Christmas is an idea that is central to the Christian faith.  As so many people have said, the spirit of Christmas is the spirit of Christ.  The best remedy for the worst Christmas ever is sharing the spirit of Christ. 

President Monson said: 
Let us make Christmas real. It isn’t just tinsel and ribbon, unless we have made it so in our lives. Christmas is the spirit of giving without a thought of getting. It is happiness because we see joy in people. It is forgetting self and finding time for others. It is discarding the meaningless and stressing the true values. It is peace because we have found peace in the Savior’s teachings. It is the time we realize most deeply that the more love is expended, the more there is of it for others. 
Matthew 25: 37-40 reads:
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
President David O. McKay declared: 
“True happiness comes only by making others happy—the practical application of the Savior’s doctrine of losing one’s life to gain it. In short, the Christmas spirit is the Christ spirit, that makes our hearts glow in brotherly love and friendship and prompts us to kind deeds of service.“It is the spirit of the gospel of Jesus Christ, obedience to which will bring ‘peace on earth,’ because it means—good will toward all men.”
Loneliness, misery, and heartache do not belong to the Christmas season exclusively.  They run rampant year-round through the world, through our ward, through our friends’ lives.  So it is with opportunities to serve, to lift up our brethren, to lead them to Christ.  The remedy for the worst Christmas ever just so happens to be the remedy for the worst week ever or the worst Monday ever. 
President Monson said:
Because He came to earth, we have a perfect example to follow. As we strive to become more like Him, we will have joy and happiness in our lives and peace each day of the year. It is His example which, if followed, stirs within us more kindness and love, more respect and concern for others.
Because He came, there is meaning to our mortal existence.
Because He came, we know how to reach out to those in trouble or distress, wherever they may be.
Because He came, death has lost its sting, the grave its victory. We will live again because He came.
Because He came and paid for our sins, we have the opportunity to gain eternal life.
We can turn from the paths which would lead us down and, with a song in our hearts, follow a star and walk toward the light. We can quicken our step, bolster our courage, and bask in the sunlight of truth. We can hear more clearly the laughter of little children. We can dry the tear of the weeping. We can comfort the dying by sharing the promise of eternal life. If we lift one weary hand which hangs down, if we bring peace to one struggling soul, if we give as did the Master, we can—by showing the way become a guiding star for some lost mariner. If we are to have the very best Christmas [or January or Valentine’s Day or Monday] ever, we must listen for the sound of sandaled feet. We must reach out for the Carpenter’s hand. With every step we take in His footsteps, we abandon a doubt and gain a truth.

My testimony is that Christ can heal all hurts.  He can mend broken hearts, He can bring families together, He can fill you with love and understanding.  If we remember ChristHis birth, His ministry, His atonement, His death and resurrection—if we strive to do as He would do and serve as He would serve, we can have the Spirit of Christmasthe spirit of Christto bless and guide us throughout the year and throughout our lives.



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