The 6th Day of Christmas

On the sweetness of Mormon life.

Some child behind me started yelling during a really good talk about charity. Because of the talk, perhaps, I remembered not to turn around and gawk. Later I peeked behind me and saw a young mother with three small children who had slipped in late. Her husband is a good man but he doesn’t believe and won’t come and he works on Sundays anyway, so she and her children are usually late. Sometimes they’re so late they don’t come until the very end of sacrament meeting. But they almost always come.

As you know for New Year’s we all make resolutions for self-improvement. This means looking back at the failures of the year. I had come to sacrament meeting intending to meditate on possible resolutions, but it was too gloomy a subject for how good the meeting was. After all, I thought, this is 6th day of Christmas, so we’re still in the middle of the Christmas season. And I had the spiritual impression that I should meditate on the blessings of the year instead. Basic, fundamental blessings, like having had enough food to eat and money to pay the bills. Like not having had any car wrecks. That kind of blessing.

About that point the speaker mentioned something about time being a golden treasure. What a blessing time is, I thought. And then I realized that behind me sat those, not so blessed with time on Sunday mornings as I, who gave of their mite.

14 comments for “The 6th Day of Christmas

  1. On behalf of mothers of three unruly children everywhere, Adam, thanks for your charity and patience. May you yet be blessed with a fiery-tempered child of your own to inspire similar patience in others.

  2. My New Year’s resolution this year is to take each of the 12 characteristics listed in Matthew 5 (as I count them, leaving out a couple of persecution related ones) and focus on developing one of them each month as fully as I can throughout that month – thinking of it every day and actively looking for ways to improve. This post is a perfect example of what I am trying to do.

    Thanks, Adam.

  3. I see charity (love) as simply thinking of the other guy before I think of myself. Ever since my first boy was born, I smile at parents who are doing their best to keep their unruly children from causing a scene, whether at church or at the store. I try to let them know that I think they’re doing okay. That’s my little bit of charity to them, and I always appreciate it when someone smiles at me when I’m clutching a wailing parasitic pseudo-humanoid under one arm. Of course, whenever I’ve got a screamer I never think of the situation as embarrassing, rather I’m simply refusing to give in to their childish and manipulative tactics. They are tricky little things — we must be vigilant! :)


  4. I fold paper birds out of bright colored paper and give them to small children sitting near me. I tell them its a quite bird and the kids will offen sit and play with the bird not making a sound. I have 5 or 6 birds sitting in my Book of Mormon rith now ready for the next child who neads one. I have had parents thank me but better still I have had kids come up to me befor the meetings and ask for a bird. I find giving the child a paper bird better than giving the parent the “LOOK” when they are try to keep a child quite.

  5. dsilversmith, that is brilliant and gentle. I think that’s what Jesus would do. Adam, sweet post. I hope that poor lady gets there in time for the Sacrament now and then.

  6. I usually wave at the kids, though I’m not above rolling my eyes or shaking my head (at the kid, again) should they lob a Hot Wheels in my direction. The littlest ones will often smile (or at least stop crying, out of surprise) just because some adult has made eye contact. There are a couple who, after a few weeks of silent socializing, basically lay off on the tantrums altogether. I think a lot of them suffer from boredom and isolation during Sacrament, more than anything else.

    Though when it comes to children in my charge, I pretty much have a zero-tolerance policy for disruption. My family tends to enforce rules like “if you get lost at Disneyland, you’re going straight home as soon as we find you” and “I don’t mind eating in shifts, so if you yell in a restaurant, your mom and I will just make you sit out on the curb next to the car till everyone else is done eating.”

  7. Thanks, Adam.
    I sat next to a young mother on an airplane some years ago. Her ~ 1 yo child was in that tired/fussy stage during the flight. This mother never showed the slightest sense of annoyance, only patience and long-suffering as she continued to try to soothe her child. She persisted in treating her child with love, *seemingly* oblivious to the growing impatience of some of the other passengers. However, I sensed that a woman this sensitive to her child’s need for kindness as could not be insensitive to other peoples’ feelings of need for quiet. She continued to try to quiet her child, but in no way reflected to him any of the other passengers’ annoyance. — she was deciding to follow the greater good and did not flinch once in doing so.
    By the end of the flight, I knew I had witnessed a Christ-like miracle in her undaunted focus on her child. I caught up to her in the airport and asked to speak with her. She agreed to listen, somewhat apprehensively. I told her that I was very impressed with how she had kept her focus on her true priority and that several of us older passengers were silently rooting for her. She said she thought I was going to complain and I said I just wanted her to know that she hadn’t been alone. (I confess that I selfishly watched passively to see whether the miracle would last instead of helping her — although I did push away the hand of a lady behind us who tried to *pinch* the child into becoming quiet. I’ve repented of this since — no need to draw my attention to it).
    A couple years later, I thought of how I wish I’d phrased it:
    “Ma’am, I just want you to know that every person on that ‘plane acted like your child when we were his age — many of us who are my age watched you and wish we had acted like you when we were your age. Your son is very blessed to have you as his mother. My day has been brightened by seeing the love and safety you give him. May God bless both of you.”

  8. Good on you, manaen. I’ve long maintained that you can tell pretty much everything you need to know about a person by how he responds when a mother with a small child sits down next to him on a plane.

  9. Thanks for sharing that, manaen.

    I will never forget one Sac Mtg when a single mother in our ward was seated at the front, facing the congregation, while she signed for a deaf, inactive sister. This mother has a young son with serious ADHD, so she had him with her – also on a chair facing the congregation.

    Halfway through the first speaker’s talk, this boy began to get really antsy, and his mother had to interrupt her signing more than once to try to get him to sit still and not distract everyone else. Without any fuss, a young mother in our ward handed her own young children to her husband, walked reverently up to the front of the chapel, smiled at and picked up the boy, carried him back to her pew, sat next to him and kept him engaged for the rest of the meeting – while her husband cared for their children.

    Everyone loves the sister who was signing, and I’m positive everyone who could see the situation was praying for her. Sister H, however, was the only one who did anything about it actively.

    Ever since that experience, I have tried hard to be aware of situations like this – no matter the location. My standard line is, “I have six children, and I have been in your shoes WAY more times than I care to remember. Is there anything I can do to help?”

  10. I’m evil, I think it’s tremendously entertaining when a toddler asserts his or her rights. When I was younger, little ones annoyed me, including my own. Now I just adore them and am completely at their mercy if they like me. Sometimes it’s the only interesting thing in the meeting. Bill and I are a couple of old fogeys, sitting in our familiar spot, watching peoples’ little kids and rejoicing at the beautiful babies.

    It’s not a resolution, it’s new found faith, I’m going to get back on the stick with my spritual “program.” When Sarah (aka Princess Buttgold) left her husband and decided to leave the church as well, I realized how much the church meant to me personally and that I wanted to be active no matter what my children were doing. Prior to that, I’d decided to let Sarah be the active one in the family and be as lazy as possible, hoping no one would notice that I was slipping away.

    So I’ve re-committed and am having a spiritual awakening.

    Adam, I loved your description of your ward and the affection you obviously felt. We never know what people are thinking as they sit in a meeting.

  11. Adam, nice post dude, I totally agree with your vibe about applying principles to the present moment, and that good principles aren’t just for sermons, they’re for every ticking moment of real life. Plus it’s cool how in a church meeting of a church that values families, you found a moment where you recognised the value of family in all its chaos over your own momentary desire for peace and quiet…well said.

    Generally, your post reminds me of two quotes:

    “not the idea about the thing but the thing itself” – T. S Eliot

    “life is what happens to you while you’re making other plans” – John Lennon

  12. I think having to learn to live with people we otherwise would not choose to associate with freely is one of the prime benefits of the Mormon experience of communal worship.

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