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To Mormons, With Love
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The Twofer

My parents travel from Arizona to Utah every year to spend Christmas with us. It’s become a tradition. My mother’s birthday is December 22nd, so they arrive in time for us to properly celebrate her before Santa visits. It’s a twofer at our house!

This year was no different, except Mom entered a new decade. A number she prefers that I not mention, because she says, “The only people who want to be “number-ty”, are people who are 80.”

We decided to go tubing on Mom’s special birthday. I called Soldier Hollow (a local winter sports place) and shared that my parents were…older than me…and asked if the hills were safe and mellow. “They’re totally mellow,” the young man said on the phone. “As long as a pusher doesn’t spin you.”

Got it. No spinning. I asked him if there was any way the day could be not fun. “Nope. Just layer your clothes. It won’t suck.”

This year, December 22nd was opening day for the tubing hill. Fresh snow had fallen days prior, the air was crisp, and the seven of us – aged 7 to “number-ty” – were ready for some old-fashioned fun! We climbed into our tubes and were towed up the hill.

I went first. Fast. And out of control. I blew past the orange cones where I was supposed to drag my feet to slow down, past the employee at the end of the run, and through a mesh safety fence. I stood up, and looked toward the top of the hill. Mom was getting ready to head down. I was…concerned.

“Hey. Can you tell my parents to go back?” I said to the employee. “Do you have a walkie-talkie? I think this is too much for them. They’re a little older. It’s my mom’s birthday. This seemed like a good idea. Is that pure ice?”

Then, down came Mom. The ride was quick, she drug her feet to stop, didn’t fall, and had a big grin on her face. I was happy she didn’t break a hip, because it’s always curtains when someone breaks a hip.

Then, down came Dad. Like a bullet. He shot through two safety fences, snapping a fence pole with a dramatic crack. He was fine and Mom cried with laughter, like watching Dad’s “agony of defeat” crash was the best gift ever.

We made a few more runs, had some hot beverages, then piled in the car and headed home. The seven of us took turns sharing details of successful and failed tubing techniques, recounting Dad’s rocket run many times.

Before the first run!

Hooking on to a towrope to climb the hill is a nice treat once in a while, cresting can be daunting, but the trip down is nothing to fear. The sweet spots seem to become more clear...over the hill.

I hope when I’m “number-ty” that I’m able to fly down a tubing hill on my stomach.

After a long, fun day -- Mom's number-ty birthday!


The Too-Tall Tree

We put a hole in our ceiling with the Christmas tree. My holiday enthusiasm was bigger than the reality of my space. Chris, the boys, and I marched a 23-foot tree into our house then tried to erect it in a room with 18-foot ceilings. I blame the tape measure.

We don’t have a large family room, but we have high ceilings. Every year, the Friday after Thanksgiving, I head to Ault’s Christmas Trees and look for Leo (Grandpa) or his son. “Show me your prettiest tall-skinny. You know I’ll make a quick decision,” I cheerfully request. They always remember me, and often take me to the tree earmarked for Leo himself. Or so they tell me.

I don’t know what happened this year. We measured, chain-sawed the trunk, trimmed branches, removed bird nests and squirrels, and re-measured. Then we called neighbors soliciting help to carry the tree into the house. Everyone we called was either heading out the door for a prior commitment, “I hate to be rude, because I’m running late…but good luck!” Or they were nursing an injury (probably from helping us last year).

The tree was heavy. “This one seems bigger than last year’s,” my husband said as he shouldered the majority of the weight.

“Duke! Are you even lifting?” I yelled to our 13-year-old.

“Redmond, get out of the way! If we drop it, you’ll get hurt…real bad!” I shouted to our 7-year-old.

We made it into the house, navigated doorways and a ceiling fan, and began the hoist after Chris counted to three. Before we knew it, we had a giant tree bowed and stuck…in the wrong spot.

“Everybody stay calm. Don’t let go of the tree,” Chris said.

Frankly, I think we all could have walked away and that tree would still be in the same place, securely wedged between the ceiling and floor.

There was counting, grunting, pushing, and barks of, “Hold it! Watch the lamp! The fan! Duke, lift! Redmond, move!” We laid the tree on the floor and stood for a few seconds in silence.

“I’ll get the clippers,” I nonchalantly offered as I walked toward the garage.

“There’s a hole in the ceiling!” Chris called after me.

We trimmed a few feet off the tree, successfully erected it in the proper spot, and I doled out the maximum dose of Aleve to all family members that evening. The neck and back pain were gone the following morning.

Was it worth it? We think so. Christmas isn’t about a tree, or outdoor lights, or stockings hung by the chimney with care (ours happen to still be in a pile on the hearth – rough few weeks), but that tall-skinny tree gives this family much joy.

Holes can be patched.

Too-tall tree and stockings piled by the hearth


NOTE: For those who read last year's post about The Creepy Christmas Monkeys, they made it on the tree this year. If you look closely, you'll see one of the horrifying little creatures about three feet down from the star, staring directly at you. The other one's up there somewhere. Mom will be able to see them (with binoculars), but the monkeys won't be easy to move. Win-win!


One More Catchall

The Studio 5 segment aired a few weeks ago on November 16. You can check out the prerecorded piece and the live interview via the links below.

Bridging the Religious Gap (prerecorded piece -- 3 minutes)

Teaching Kids Acceptance (live interview -- 9 minutes)


And here are a couple of articles I wrote for the American Fork Citizen:

The Question I Didn't Get to Answer -- “What would be worse, if your child was ostracized because they weren’t LDS, or…if they converted?”

A Christmas Mary-cle -- Our Miniature Schnauzer has been sick, sick, sick. She was diagnosed with diabetes among other things.


Life is full. Christmas is around the corner and I'm not ready. The stockings aren't hung by the chimney with care. They've been in a pile on the floor for several days, patiently waiting. Wreaths for the front doors are lying on the porch, also patiently waiting. Today, stockings and wreaths will go up! I hope.

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