Dear Family and Friends,
Christmas is my favorite time of year. I love to decorate the house, shop with my girls, make fudge and other goodies, listen to Christmas music and plan for Christmas Day. I love that we remember the baby Jesus and that people seem to have more goodwill for each other during this season. I remember the special times I had as a child with my family and the wonderful Christmases with Ken and our children. Now they have families of their own and this makes our Christmas even more exciting with all of our beautiful grandchildren.
This year we are away and it is difficult but Christmas is still magical. So I have decorated the flat, listen to Christmas music on my iPod on the way to The National Archives and shopped for gifts for my family. Kelly made my fudge and delivered it to our other children.
Last Christmas Ken and I spoke in our ward for the Christmas program and also because it was our missionary farewell. I told a story about Charles Dickens. Here is a part of my talk.
“In his December 1994, First Presidency message President Gordon B. Hinckley told a story about Charles Dickens. At Christmastime when we hear the name Charles Dickens we usually think of A Christmas Carol, but on this occasion, President Hinckley wasn’t talking about Christmas Carol.
Charles Dickens was the father of ten children and evidently loved to tell them stories. In 1849, while he was writing David Copperfield, Dickens took time to write The Life of Our Lord. This book was not for publication but only for his children. It was a simple testimony from him to them and it presented the Christmas story in Dickens’ own words. His children, when they grew, would not permit it to be published. For 85 years it remained in the Dickens family. Then, when the youngest son died in 1933, publication was permitted.
The book begins with these words:
“My dear children, I am very anxious that you should know something about the History of Jesus Christ. For everybody ought to know about Him. No one ever lived who was so good, so kind, so gentle, and so sorry for all people who did wrong, or were in any way ill or miserable... And as he is now in heaven, where we hope to go, and all to meet each other after we are dead, and there be happy always together, you will never think what a good place heaven is, without knowing who He was and what He did.”
And then he tells them the Christmas story.”
I took this photo in the Dickens's Museum which is in a house where Dickens once lived. They were decorating for Christmas during our visit.
We were able to see Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol at the London Arts Theatre with the Robertsons and Spruces. It was an interesting production- a one man show with British actor Simon Callow relating the story of Ebenezer Scrooge.
I love the preface to the book published December, 1843. Dickens wrote,
“I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it.”
Their faithful Friend and Servant, C.D.
We had a wonderful Family Home Evening with the other senior missionary couples to begin the Christmas season. Elder and Sister Sprouse hosted the party at our flat and we all finally got to have that turkey dinner we missed on Thanksgiving.
Sharon (our FHC director) the Robertsons, us, Sister Spouse, the Empeys and Elder Sprouse.
Especially for our children- notice the Santa picture that I have on the mirror.
After eating, we shared our favorite Christmas memories, had a gift exchange and Ken read the Christmas story from Luke. Then we pulled our Christmas crackers. Christmas crackers are part of the Christmas celebration in the UK.
The crackers, which are made of a cardboard tube wrapped in bright paper, are pulled making a snap. Each cracker contains a hat, joke and trinket.
Another English Christmas tradition is the celebration of Boxing Day, the day after Christmas. Traditionally, an alms box was placed in the parish church and on the day after Christmas it was opened and gifts were given to the poor.
The Twelve Days of Christmas originated in 18th-century England, as a ‘memory-and-forfeit game”. British children had to remember all of the previous verses and then add a new verse. If they were unable to remember they had to pay a forfeit, candy or a kiss.
Christmas day is the first of the 12 days of Christmas. The Twelfth Night is the end of the Christmas season. In medieval England it was the end of a winter festival that started on All Hallows Eve (Halloween).
One of my favorite memories of teaching at Timberline Middle School is of our Christmas assembly where every year the choir sings The Twelve Days of Christmas. It always made me smile.
More on Christmas in the next blog…..
The North London Ward had their Primary Program today. It was delightful watching the children we have got to know in the past year, sing and give their talks and just look so cute. It was a sweet mixture of British and American accents. You could never find a group that sings Scripture Power with such gusto! It was a beautiful program.
Our love to all and a Merry Christmas!
Love, Elder and Sister Fugal (aka Cheryl and Ken, Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa)