Post-Christmas Letdown

I always get a little sad after Christmas. I have very high expectations every holiday season. And I love it all – the music, the family and friends, the gifts, the movies, the lights, the less-mundane-than-usual thoughts and activities.

None of these things really have to be limited to Christmastime. If we’re so inclined, we could incorporate more of what makes Christmas amazing into everyday life. A few ideas:

  • Listen to good music. For a whole month I listen to mostly classical and choral music with the Good News (or at least family and friendship) as its focus. While Christmas tunes are kind of forbidden in July, nothing stops me from listening to Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert – music that has lifted souls for centuries.
  • Work toward the happiness of others. Much of the thrill of Christmas is imagining the excitement of others as they open the gift you got them. But all year I can send people a surprise note, build them up in person or online, express thanks, or even give a little gift for no particular reason.
  • Read good books. Nothing quite compares to A Christmas Carol, but there’s a lot of uplifting and mind-expanding literature out there for the other 11 months of the year.
  • Spend time with your family. Remember those who have passed. Document the present so you have some say in the way the grandkids remember you.
  • Eat well. Who says you can’t make a batch of wassail in June? And hot chocolate is good for the soul any time of year.
  • Surround yourself with light. The tree and the exterior lights have to come down, but you can decorate your room with art and photography that inspires you. And you can change it as often as you want. For me, I can make my office look completely different just by cleaning it.
  • Be grateful. Make sure your parents and grandparents know you love them. Send thank you notes. Count your blessings.
  • Assume the best intentions. The rest of the world isn’t out to get you, even in summer.
  • Focus on what’s good in the world. Stay informed, but maybe not by the local news or anyone who relies exclusively on shock and emotion to get their message out.

Your list might be different. The point is, Christmas isn’t just magically different than the rest of the year (although maybe there’s some of that). It’s different because we act and think differently than we do during the rest of the year. Figure out what makes it special for you and work to get more of that into your January through November.

It Is Well With My Soul

This is a favorite Christian hymn, lyrics written by Horatio Spafford in the 1870s after his 2-yr-old son died in the Great Chicago Fire, his finances fell apart, and his four daughters drowned in a shipwreck.

It has been a source of comfort for me. Chris Rice has a great version in his Hymns Project.

(By the way, the music is by Philip Bliss, the same guy who wrote Brightly Beams Our Father’s Mercy. Oh, and the lyrics mention Trump in the last verse.)

Well-known Mormons in the Salt Lake City Cemetery

If you like cemeteries and you like Mormons, you’ll love the Salt Lake City Cemetery. The oldest known burial here was in 1847, a child named Mary B. Wallace. Two years later, George Wallace was on the committee that recommended the place to Brigham Young. The cemetery covers 120 acres and there are now (September 2015) over 124,000 people buried here (out of a total 130,000 burial sites).

Presidents of the Church
Eleven Presidents of the Church are buried here: John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, Joseph F. Smith, Heber J. Grant, George A. Smith, David O. McKay, Joseph Fielding Smith, Harold B. Lee, Spencer W. Kimball, Howard W. Hunter, and Gordon B. Hinckley. I’m missing a couple of photos, but here are most of them –

Members of the Quorum of the Twelve
Including George Q. Cannon, Hugh B. Brown, James E. Talmage, Neal A. Maxwell, Bruce R. McConkie, J. Golden Kimball, and Anthon H. Lund –

Missionary Martyr Joseph Standing
One of the most curious memorials to me is for Joseph Standing, an early missionary of the Church to the Southern States. He was killed by a mob near the town of Varnell, Georgia in 1879. The memorial reflects some hope of heavenly vengeance.

Early missionary to Georgia
“There is no law in Georgia for the Mormons”

Tough words for the murderers of missionary Joseph Standing
Missionary martyred by a mob of 12 men in Georgia

Those who created the memorial wanted to make sure we remembered the names of the mob members. A poem concludes:

Our brother rests beneath his native sod,
His murderers are in the hands of God.
Weep, weep for them, not him whose silent dust
Here waits the resurrection of the dust.

Here are a few more headstones, including those for Truman O. Angell, Porter Rockwell, Karl G. Maeser, Marjorie Pay Hinckley, William Clayton, and W. W. Phelps –