What were things like for Joseph? Imagine his life: The Creator needing Joseph as His earthly father to care for Him while He lived in the world He created. Compare this recent post on the Mormon.org blog. Yes, I am still feeling the Christmas spirit.
This music video, set in a prison, is certainly unique . . . and effective. It moved me deeply.
Infant holy, infant lowly,
for his bed a cattle stall.
Oxen lowing, little knowing,
Christ the babe is Lord of all.
Swift are winging angels singing,
Noels ringing, tidings bringing.
Christ the babe is Lord of all.
Flocks were sleeping, shepherds keeping
vigil till the morning new
saw the glory, heard the story,
tidings of a gospel true.
Thus rejoicing, free from sorrow,
praises voicing, greet the morrow.
Christ the babe was born for you.
The pure harmonies of the Gardiner sisters . . . I could listen to them for hours.
From 2014 here’s Jon Schmidt, Steven Sharp Nelson, Peter Hollens, David Archuleta, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir performing “Angels We Have Heard on High.” With about 1,000 angels. Love this.
Please enjoy an original piano arrangement of “Oh Holy Night” by Garth Smith.
I love James Taylor’s arrangement of “In the Bleak Midwinter.” Courtesy of Spotify.
In the bleak midwinter,
icy wind made moan.
Earth stood hard as iron,
water like a stone.
Snow on snow had fallen,
snow on snow on snow,
in the bleak midwinter,
long and long ago.
Angels and archangels,
may have gathered there,
cherubim and seraphim
rising in the air.
Oh but only Mary,
in her maiden bliss
worshiped the Beloved
with a mother’s kiss.
Heaven cannot hold Him
nor can earth sustain.
Heaven and earth shall fall away
when He comes to reign.
What then can I give him,
empty as I am?
If I were a shepherd,
I would bring a lamb.
If I were a wise man,
I would know my part.
What then can I give Him
I must give my heart.
I love this performance of Dan Forrest’s “There Is Faint Music” by the University of Utah Singers conducted by Dr. Brady Allred.
There is faint music in the night
and pale wings fanned by silver flight.
A frosty hill with tender glow
of countless stars that shine on snow.
A shelter from the winter storm,
a straw-lined manger safe and warm,
and Mary singing lullabies
to hush her baby’s sleepy sighs.
Her eyes are fixed upon his face,
unheeded here is time and space.
Her heart is filled with blinding joy
for God’s own son, her baby boy.
Both my wife and I generally avoid crowds, prefer quiet and stillness, and need time alone to renew and refuel every day. If charged with the crime of introversion, we would both be easily convicted on multiple counts. We recognize that there may be a few others out there like us that likewise have an aversion to kamikaze shopping on Black Friday. We, therefore, offer the following suggestions.
1. Shop your local grocery store (not the big box grocery stores with toy sections, though). The day after Thanksgiving is often one of the quietest days of the year for a regular grocery store. They’ll be surprised to see you! Buy a Christmas tree at Harmons like we did today and a very nice clerk on cold duty will tie it to the roof of your car and ask you all about your Thanksgiving while he’s at it. Because there’s no one else to talk to.
2. Go to the dollar store. Everything will be the same price that it was the day before Thanksgiving, the same price it is every other day of the year. This sales strategy does not attract a lot of shoppers on Black Friday. Ask them about their door busters (I did today): they’ll look back at you as if you asked them a question in Aka-Bo. Only two cars were in the parking lot this morning. Ours was one of them.
3. Get an oil change and a car wash. We will admit, things were hopping there. One car was in front of ours in the garage bay. And the free car wash that came with the oil change? I think we had to wait five minutes to get on the car conveyor. Yes, there were actually other cars going through the car wash in front of us. Most of them were dirty.
4. Fill up your car with gas at Costco where every day is Black Friday. Same crowds as any day. Four-minute wait, but at $1.89 per gallon, completely worth it. No gas pump rage today.
5. Go to your favorite health and supplement store, Dave’s Health and Nutrition, where they’re having a two-day sale. We did. More sales clerks than shoppers in the store when we got there. I will admit we got there late. Like 5:00 p.m. Everything was 20 percent off. Thinking of going back tomorrow.
6. Fill up your three-gallon water jug at the local artesian well. One other guy there. Pleasant conversation. Room for three people. There less than five minutes.
7. Oh, and shop on the Internet. Big crowd there but you likely will not run into anyone you know. In fact, you won’t run into anyone, unless you have Facebook open on one of your tabs.
8. Write a blog post, alone in your study, about being an introvert on Black Friday.
It’s okay to maintain a low-pro on Black Friday. Or any other day of the year. It’s not that we don’t like people. We love people. It’s just that we’re not very interesting (or fun) to be around in large, noisy groups, where we run out of emotional fuel, fast.
Here are some of my favorite “Daily Messages” from this month, guaranteed to put you in the Christmas spirit or your money back!
“What all of us long for in our hearts, at Christmastime and always, is to feel bound together in love with the sweet assurance that it can last forever. This is the promise of eternal life, which God has called His greatest gift to His children (see D&C 14:7).—Henry B. Eyring, “Home for Christmas“, Liahona and Ensign
“Like the shepherds of old, we need to say in our hearts, ‘Let us see this thing which is come to pass.’ We need to desire it in our hearts. Let us see the Holy One of Israel in the manger, in the temple, on the mount, and on the cross. Like the shepherds, let us glorify and praise God for these tidings of great joy!” —Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Can We See the Christ?“, 2010 First Presidency Christmas Devotional, December 2010
“There was a song in a film years ago with the line ‘Have yourself a merry little Christmas.’ Well, you can give a great and wonderful Christmas if you remember the gifts God has given you and, as best you can, offer them to others as He would. That is the spirit of Christmas and of true happiness every day.” —Henry B. Eyring, “The Gifts of Christmas“, 2011 First Presidency Christmas Devotional, December 2011
“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.” —Thomas S. Monson, “Christmas Is Love“, 2012 First Presidency Christmas Devotional, December 2012
“The more commercialized and busy the Christmas season becomes, the easier it is for the sublime message of the Savior’s life to get lost along the way. If we notice that planning for parties and scrambling for presents begin to detract from the peaceable message of Jesus Christ and distance us from the gospel He preached, let us take a step back, slow down a little, and reconsider what matters most.” —Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Seeing Christmas through New Eyes“, 2010 First Presidency Christmas Devotional, December 2010
“This joyful season brings to all of us a measure of happiness that corresponds to the degree to which we have turned our minds, feelings, and actions to the Savior, whose birth we celebrate.” —Thomas S. Monson, “A Bright Shining Star“, 2010 First Presidency Christmas Devotional, December 2010
“While it’s true that we can find materialism and anxiety in Christmas, it is also true that if we have eyes to see, we can experience the powerful message of the birth of the Son of God and feel the hope and peace He brings to the world.” —Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Seeing Christmas through New Eyes“, 2010 First Presidency Christmas Devotional, December 2010
“The celebration of Christmas helps us keep our promise to always remember Him and His gifts to us. And that remembrance creates a desire in us to give gifts to Him. He has told us what we could give Him to bring Him joy. First, we can, out of faith in Him, give a broken heart and a contrite spirit. We can repent and make sacred covenants with Him. . . . Second, you can give Him the gift of doing for others what He would do for them. —Henry B. Eyring, “The Gift of a Savior“, 2010 First Presidency Christmas Devotional, December 2010
“Christmas is a time for remembering the Son of God and renewing our determination to take upon us His name. It is a time to reassess our lives and examine our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Let this be a time of remembrance, of gratitude, and a time of forgiveness. Let it be a time to ponder the Atonement of Jesus Christ and its meaning for each of us personally. Let it especially be a time of renewal and recommitment to live by the word of God and to obey His commandments. By doing this, we honor Him far more than we ever could with lights, gifts, or parties.” —Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Seeing Christmas through New Eyes“, 2010 First Presidency Christmas Devotional, December 2010
“Christmas is what we make of it. Despite all the distractions, we can see to it that Christ is at the center of our celebration. If we have not already done so, we can establish Christmas traditions for ourselves and for our families which will help us capture and keep the spirit of Christmas.” —Thomas S. Monson, “Because He Came“, 2011 First Presidency Christmas Devotional, December 2011
“The Christmases I remember best, the Christmases which touched my heart the most, are Christmases filled with love and giving and the Spirit of the Savior. . . . Bringing the Christmas spirit into our hearts and homes takes conscious effort and planning but can surely be accomplished.” —Thomas S. Monson, “A Bright and Shining Star“, 2010 First Presidency Christmas Devotional, December 2012
“We are entering another wonderful Christmas season filled with music and lights, parties and presents. But of all people, we as members of the church that bears the Savior’s name need to look beyond the façade of the season and see the sublime truth and beauty of this time of year.” —Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Can We See the Christ?“, Liahona and Ensign, November 2012