“FYI: For Your Info,” New Era, Dec. 1994, 34–37
by Lisa A. Johnson
Do you have more time than money? More talent than cents? If so, being generous this Christmas does not have to be a problem. You’ll find something almost everyone will love on the following lists.
For Your Parents:
Make them a series of scripture cards to put up on their mirror. You could do 12, one for each month, or 52, one for each week. Write or type their favorite scriptures on three-by-five-inch cards and decorate them with stickers or by using colored pens. Wrap the cards and a roll of tape in a box. Don’t forget to include instructions.
Get an inexpensive calendar. Write all the important family dates on it, like birthdays, anniversaries, deadlines, vacations, etc. Leave enough space so other events can be added. Hang in a central household location so the family can coordinate dates and activities throughout the year.
Come up with a “Top Ten List,” print it in a nice typeface on a computer, or neatly by hand, then roll it up like a scroll and tie it with a ribbon. It could be funny or serious, whatever you like, and could include subjects like “Why I’m Glad You’re My Mom or Dad,” “Things You Do for Me That Don’t Go Unnoticed,” or “The Best Times We’ve Ever Had Together.”
Give them a certificate for a night out on the town. If restaurant gift certificates are too expensive, offer to make them a picnic lunch or dinner they can take with them. Offer to baby-sit, or wash the car before they go.
Find out which is their favorite temple; perhaps the one they were married in, the closest one, the one they donated money to help build, or the one they hope to attend. Take a photo, draw a picture, find a print, or use a picture from a Church magazine, and frame it for them.
Get some nice stationery or a beautiful card and write your testimony on it. Include how the gospel and your parents’ example inspire you to try to be more Christlike. This will be one of the finest gifts you could ever give your parents.
For Your Friends:
Before school lets out for the holidays, pack a Christmas lunch for your friends and bring it to school. You could make special family recipes that your friends might not get to eat all the time, or you could find out what their favorite foods are and focus on those.
Buy a large, inexpensive glass mug and put a bottle of their favorite soft drink in it. Tie a ribbon around the handle.
Make them a scripture tree. You can buy a small tree at a store, or make one of wood or paper. The decorations can be slips of colored paper with favorite scriptures printed on them, or white cards tied with colorful ribbons. Twenty-five scriptures is a good number—one for each day in December up to and including Christmas.
If it’s cold and snowy in your area around Christmas, give them a snowman kit; buy a hat and scarf at a secondhand store, or make them out of fabric. Make sure you include coal or buttons for eyes and mouth, and a carrot for the nose. You also might find an inexpensive broom. If it’s warm in your area around Christmas and you live near a beach, give them a shovel and pail and other paraphernalia to make a Christmas castle in the sand.
Give them a new copy of the Book of Mormon. It doesn’t have to be an expensive one. If they’re not LDS, write your testimony in it. If they are LDS, make a nice new cover for it and mark their favorite scriptures, with significant cross-references.
Send light-weight Christmas decorations that are not bulky. The best ones can be eaten, discarded, or recycled after use, like Christmas stockings, a tree made of suckers, or chains of popcorn, candy, or colored cereal loops. (These are also easy and fun for little brothers and sisters to make.) Don’t send anything that would break, spoil, or be difficult for the missionary to pack around when the holidays are over.
Photographs in flat, nonfragile frames make great gifts. Missionaries can never get enough pictures from home.
Film and mail-in film processing packages are always welcome. Disposable cameras work well too.
If they’re serving in the same country you live in, or if you have access to stamps from their country, you could send them stamped, addressed envelopes with matching writing paper.
Small gifts that missionaries can turn around and give to investigators and helpful members are always appreciated. Things like bookmarks and cards with spiritual messages on them go a long way.
Make them a video. Document your town, family, or ward preparations for Christmas. Film friends giving special Christmas messages to the missionaries. Be sure not to get too sentimental—you don’t want to make them homesick. Also, many countries have video systems that can’t play U.S. tapes; find out before you send one.
For the Elderly:
Give them the gift of being needed. If they’re mobile and willing, help them volunteer at a soup kitchen or children’s hospital, or anywhere else that needs help. Then you volunteer, too, and go along.
Help decorate their residences. Supply homemade decorations, if needed, or help them put up the ones they’ve collected through the years.
Take them to a free Christmas concert or program in your area. It’s fun for them to get out with someone polite and cheerful.
Clean their house or do yard work or snow shoveling for them. Or give them a gift certificate for the same services to be done later.
Magazine or newsletter subscriptions are nice. The periodicals give them something interesting to read and remind them of you all year long.
Give them the gift of memories. A scrapbook filled with photos and memorabilia collected from family and friends would be very welcome.
We realize we’re not on your gift list. And maybe it sounds like we’re really rushing things. (This Christmas isn’t over yet.) Nevertheless, this really is the time to think about what you’re going to give us for next Christmas.
In next December’s New Era we plan to publish testimonies of Christ from Latter-day Saint teens all over the world. So we are inviting you to think about your own testimony of the Savior, how you feel about Him, and what He means to you personally. Was there a particular event or occasion that began your testimony or strengthened it? How has your testimony of Jesus Christ helped you in a particular trial?
Put your feelings or experience on paper—it could be a few paragraphs, a poem, or a song. The important thing is to express yourself. We want you to briefly share some of the how and why of what you feel.
When it’s written, please send us a copy no later than May 31, 1995. If you can, please include a picture of yourself that you don’t need returned. Oh, and one more thing—don’t forget to share your testimony with family and friends and put a copy in your journal.
Students at the Vernal, Utah, seminaries had a chance to get up close and personal with the Uintah Tabernacle. Youth from the seminaries scrubbed, polished, and shined the tabernacle from top to bottom, preparing the building for visits from the public. The building is now closed, undergoing renovation to become a temple.
“For the more than 200 youth that attended the cleanup, it will be an experience they will never forget,” says one of their teachers, Brother Durrant. The building has not been used for church meetings since 1984, so this was the first time many of the participants had seen the inside of the building.
Bronwyn Kerns of the Winchester Ward, Winchester Virginia Stake found an unusual way to incorporate the Young Women values into her daily life—she spent more than 200 hours making them into a quilt! Different squares of the quilt highlight different aspects of the values, and the center square contains the Young Women theme.
Bronwyn credits her mother for helping her with the project, which is now used as a decoration in Bronwyn’s home and as a special display at Young Women functions.
Laurels from Garland, Utah, got to know several women in their ward by becoming a “secret granddaughter” to them. Each girl chose a woman from the ward and then spent three weeks leaving small surprises and sending good wishes through the mail. During the fourth week, the girls interviewed their grandmothers about their lives. At the end of the activity, the Laurels gave a dinner party honoring their grandmothers.
The girls provided much-needed fellowship for the sisters, many of whom are in poor health. And they had a great time doing it. “This is the most fun activity we have ever planned,” said one Laurel.
Youth in the Melrose Ward, Roseburg Oregon Stake, spent a day as “pioneers” to help polish their leadership skills. The youth were assigned to a family, as either parents or children, and given callings. All families also received a “baby” which was really a 10-pound sack of flour.
The night before the trek, “mothers” fixed dinner and the youth had a fireside about leadership and the possible challenges they might face on their journey. To make the trek more realistic, a few members of the group were assigned to have injuries or illnesses which would require help and support from the rest of the participants.
Although the trek was tiring and the youth were glad to rest when it was over, they all agreed that it was a good experience.
“All of the trials provided opportunities to serve others, to be a leader or learn from one, and gave us a real understanding of what the pioneers went through,” says Kristel Lander, who participated as a “mother” on the trek.
Between the two of them, LeGrand and Catherine Sakamaki, of Hilo, Hawaii, lifted more than 400 pounds last year to win two National Junior weightlifting titles. Both Catherine and LeGrand are coached by their dad, who is also the stake president in Hilo.
LeGrand, who is a priest in the Ainaola Hawaii Ward, plans to train with his dad for the 1996 Olympics. Although he was invited to train at a special program in Colorado Springs, LeGrand decided against it because it would mean giving up time with his family and attendance at early-morning seminary.
Catherine is active in her Beehive class as well as being the student-body president at her junior high school. Catherine plans to represent the U.S. in the Women’s World Weightlifting Championships.
Robert Rightenour, a 14-year-old teacher from the Seattle (Washington) First Ward, spent six months at a special sports training school in Trencin, Slovakia, one of the first Americans ever to attend the school. While he was there, Robert attended the tiny branch, which consisted of seven members and two missionaries.
When Robert wasn’t training with world champions in canoe racing and kayaking, he spent time as a home-teaching companion with the missionaries.
Robert also helped his family do their genealogy. Many of his ancestors came from Slovakia, and he has met several relatives in the nearby town of Svidnik.