“How can you keep a reception or open house more personal and in the spirit of the occasion?” New Era, June 1975, 48
Answer/Sister Ruth Hardy Funk
The six golden spires above the gleaming white, seven-story building shone in the November sun. It was a windy day. It was an inspiring day. The Washington Temple was being dedicated, and thousands had traveled thousands of miles to participate. Standing outside after one of the meetings was a young bishop and his wife. They came from Indianapolis with four teenage youths to participate in this glorious occasion.
The President of the Church was about to exit the temple. The bishop and those with him waited patiently to catch a glimpse of the man they sustain as prophet, seer, and revelator. There he was! As he came through the doors, he looked over the crowd of Saints who had been asked to clear a path for his departure. He moved through them unhurried, shaking hands and smiling warmly. He extended his arms as far back into the crowd as he could to reach as many hands as possible.
He finally reached young Bishop Gurney, his wife, and their small party of youths. Linda Surface was one of them. She was noticeably self-conscious, and as her hair tossed and swirled in the whipping wind, she fought with both hands to control it. President Kimball saw her, took her nervous hand, and comforted her: “Don’t worry about your hair, you are beautiful as you are.”
Then he took the bishop’s wife by the hand: “Thank you so much for waiting for me.” And to the bishop he gave a similar grateful greeting.
How can you keep a reception or open house more personal and in the spirit of the occasion—or any social gathering for that matter?
As in all things our president sets the example. And he follows the example of the Master: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:35.) President Kimball demonstrated in those simple acts outside the Washington Temple that November day the graciousness, love, and concern for others that show “love one to another.” That mark alone will make any social gathering warm, pleasant, and filled with the proper spirit.
Our concern for others makes a difference in our attitude, our treatment of others, our preparation, and our own enjoyment of an occasion. When we have concern for others, the preparation for an occasion of any nature is something special. Expense is not the key to successful preparation; the key is the care taken with each detail to ensure that each person invited will be comfortable and treated with graciousness. People are inestimably more important than things.
Have in mind for whom you are preparing—your loved ones, dear friends, people you want to make feel welcome and at home. What would they enjoy? When they come, what will make them feel at ease? How would they like to be greeted? Consider fresh or dried flowers to add color and a feeling of happiness; music, the singing of children or favorite friends; specially prepared foods, etc. The extra touch of preparedness tells people you care about them.
During the occasion seek those who seem to be alone—help them to become acquainted with others. Let each person know you are sincerely happy to see them. If embarrassing situations arise, trust in the medicine of quiet laughter, and then quickly divert attention away from the incident.
During the entire event your concern for others will automatically blossom into glowing warmth felt by everyone. There is great joy and pleasure in making our first concern the benefit of others.
The sensitive comments of President Kimball that November day outside the Washington Temple—those of love toward others—should be our guide in all we do. The act is simple if the correct principle is followed. The correct principle, as King Benjamin counseled, is forgetting ourselves and acting on our concern for others so we “might rejoice and be filled with love towards God and all men.” (Mosiah 2:4.)