Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Perspective

I don't hate Christmas.  I just don't like it.

There's too much pressure.  Too much obligation and expectation that these days will be the most magical, the most happy, the most fulfilled.  Stores are packed with impatient people.  Long lines are everywhere.  Who can possibly live up to this kind of anticipation?

Compounding the issue - I don't like the music.  The secular stuff drives me bananas.  Especially when you go shopping and especially at stores like Old Navy.  I avoid them like the plague after the 1st of November.  It's cringe-worthy.  It's ghastly and nearly obscene.  The monetary production value gained by mass producing worthless lyrics and songs that ultimately create squat.  Bleh.

(I should point out here that I absolutely adore some Christmas songs.  I could listen to these songs all year, but they are particularly poignant right now.  This is the stuff of angels and adoration.  This is the stuff that makes me yearn to be at the feet of the Savior.) 


It grates on my nerves that this holiday keeps a constant emphasis on nostalgia.  The ongoing promotion of 'days of old' mixed with the chaos of materialism.  When in reality, this holiday has nothing to do with any of that.  It's about faith.  About worship.  And about the turning of hearts to follow the Son of God.  

I'm a bit of a Scrooge.

Until this year.

This year I did something different that ended up changing everything when it comes to Christmas.  

Inspired by a neighbor who apparently does this every year as a gift to herself - I started reading James E. Talmage's Jesus the Christ the week before Thanksgiving.  I knew this was going to be a challenge.  Finish 800+ pages before Christmas?  Good Heavens - when could I possibly do that?  I ended up taking it everywhere - to carpool, for lunch, in the airport - any spare second I could find I was devouring more pages. 

The best part about this process was that I didn't feel the change at the end - I felt everything shift in the beginning.  There were so many introspective moments contemplating the Savior's life, his teachings and how to better align myself - as a mother, a wife, a woman - to draw closer to Him.  These words were a joy to ponder - and to end my days with my last sleepy thought about Jesus Christ.  It also led to a dramatic change in my daily prayers.  Heart-felt worship brings a great deal of happiness.  And this season has been one of my happiest.

While the other stuff - the obscene, ridiculous nonsense?  

It didn't bother me so much this year.

I don't record this post to promote the idea that every person out there needs to read Talmage's Jesus The Christ in order to enjoy the real meaning of Christmas.  Only that centering my focus completely on Him shifted my life for the better - regardless of the season.  Away from the bitterness and into the light.  Light, peace and gratitude.

Friday, December 19, 2014


There's a pathetic, popular song on the radio right now called, "Rude".  It's about a less-than desirable suitor complaining that the girl's father is withholding his blessing for marriage.  But the line that irks me the most is the conclusion, "I'm going to marry her anyway."  

Stupid, presumptious man. 

To dumb it down for men like that - if my much wiser and experienced father doesn't approve - I'm NOT going to marry you anyway.

Because any girl worth her own skin would welcome and seriously consider the valued imput of her father.  And any arrogant fool who thinks she would do otherwise is a red flag.  

So on that note, and in honor of my father's birthday this year, let's document the story of Greg asking my Dad for permission to propose...

It happened in May on a Friday afternoon.  I don't know the exact date, but Greg proposed to me on the 17th, so I know it happened before then.  My Dad had just finished two surgeries that morning before meeting Greg in his office.  Dad told me later he'd joked with a few colleagues in the doctor's lounge...

"So I've got this boy coming over to ask if he can marry my daughter.  What should I say?"

But the wondeful fact was that my Dad already knew Greg very well.  He knew Greg's family very well. 

I'd made sure of it. 

I hadn't spent the past 2 years dating him (plus 2 years in between writing him on an LDS mission) sitting on my rear end.  And since I greatly valued my Dad's opinion, I took any and every opportunity to involve my father in my dating life - which meant meeting the boys that took me out, meeting their parents, etc.

And it didn't take long for my Dad to grasp the strength of Greg's family.  It wasn't the 22 yr old boy who sat across the table from him (though he liked Greg just fine).  My Dad knew Greg's background - how he'd been raised, his siblings lives, the spiritual/educational focus in the home, and most importantly - Greg's parents.  Crucial for my father because it was an excellent indication of Greg's potential.  Not a guarantee, but definitely a good sign.         

Greg told me later that my Dad cried through most of the visit.  He didn't like that time had finally caught up to this moment - a moment he'd seen coming for years.  He also wanted to make sure Greg knew what he was getting himself into by marrying me - subsequently laying out a list of my weaknesses... (thanks Dad)

1. She's obsessive.

2. Jumps to conclusions and assumes the worst.

3. Compulsive cleaner and she gets grouchy about it.

4. She can be stubborn & argumentative.

5. Worries.

Fortunately, there had been enough time in our dating years for Greg to encounter all these weaknesses (plus more) and miraculously, he still loved me. 

Lastly, Dad gave Greg something that was offered to him by my Grandpa Hoopes when he asked permission to marry my mother.  Dad assured Greg that after the marriage, my Dad would always side with him - not me.  If I ever came to my Dad complaining about Greg (unless it was abuse), he would back Greg.  No sympathetic ear would ever exist.  And therefore, any rough patches Greg and I encountered along the way would be resolved between us - without any outside interference. 

And to the credit of my marriage, this scenario has never happened.

In the end, I had very little worry over Dad giving Greg his blessing.  Mostly because my relationship with my father was close enough that I already knew his thoughts about this amazing boy who I loved and wanted very much to marry.  We'd already talked through this coming possibility - multiple times - long before Greg formalized the occasion. 

Regardless, my Dad's blessing meant the world to me.  It helped cement my own personal revelations on the subject.  I would not have progressed further without it.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

This post got lost in the holiday cheer... (along with the leftovers and pie)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

"On Pleasure-Bent Again" - Mr. Bennett

So Greg and I got away for a few days... (sans children)

We flew to San Diego.  

Apparently Sea World in December is off the radar for most people.  Because Greg and I nearly had the entire lovely place to ourselves.  I think we went on Manta at least a dozen times (mostly in the front seat).  Greg teased me later for bringing tuna in my backpack for lunch...

Our itinerary was simplistically divine.  Every morning we took a long walk (I forgot my running shoes so I walked in my Keds), followed by breakfast.  

(I normally don't take pictures of my food, but what the hey!  These were rare uninterrupted meals!!). 

Lap swimming followed breakfast and then reading by the pool for a few hours.  Naps after lunch.  We went shopping nowhere in particular - just thrilled to be browsing without lots of little voices.  A few choice meals from Trader Joe's.  We had a rainy afternoon that felt wonderful!  And at night we cooked dinner together while catching up on our favorite episodes of Arrow on Netflix. 

I love being married!!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Man Behind Our Thanksgiving Poem

My Grandmother Hoopes once told me that if she could be anywhere in the world, she would chose the kitchen of her youth, with a fire blazing in the old stove, a bowl of popcorn in her lap and her father entertaining her and her sisters with stories of his boyhood. 

Sadly, my notes on Great Grandpa Andrew Divers are missing most of these stories.

I love that my Grandpa Divers came from exceptionally humble beginnings in a backwater town in deep Missouri.  I've always wondered what his extended family thought of Mormons, or if they shared any of the anti-Mormon sympathies during the mid 1800s (I hope not).  Regardless, I find it remarkable that Andrew eventually found himself at the age of 45 in Salt Lake City, madly in love (my grandmother's words) with a widowed Mormon girl and raising two girls and one stepdaughter.  

Andrew never finished his schooling and certainly never had any formal education.  But I know this man loved and valued education.  As I sit here today with Andrew's copy of Byron's Poetical Works in my hands, pages spotted with Andrew's hand written notes, I know he never stopped trying to advance the progression of his mind through self learning and lots of books.  Indeed, if his daughters were any sign of the literary, political, theological discussions which took place in the Divers home, the educational environment must have been enticingly rich.  
I think of Grandpa Divers every Thanksgiving, wondering what it would have been like to hear him recite his annual poem.  We read Whitter's words in his honor before the big feast - feeling the presence of him and so many others who stay close to us on the other side.   

Ah! on Thanksgiving day, when from East and from West,
From North and from South comes the pilgrim and guest;
When the gray-haired New Englander sees round his board
The old broken links of affection restored;
When the care-wearied man seeks his mother once more,
And the worn matron smiles where the girl smiled before;
What moistens the lip and what brightens the eye,
What calls back the past, like the rich Pumpkin pie?

…Then thanks for thy present! none sweeter or better
E’er smoked from an oven or circled a platter!
Fairer hands never wrought at a pastry more fine,

Brighter eyes never watched o’er its baking, than thine!
And the prayer, which my mouth is too full to express,
Swells my heart that thy shadow may never be less,
That the days of thy lot may be lengthened below,
And the fame of thy worth like a pumpkin-vine grow,
And thy life be as sweet, and its last sunset sky
Golden-tinted and fair as thy own Pumpkin pie!

-John Whittier, The Pumpkin-

Hettie (back), Virginia, Andrew and Betty (front)

Andrew with daughter Virginia

Saturday, November 22, 2014


Book? - Maisy Makes Lemonade by Lucy Cousins

Song? - "How Much Is That Doggie In The Window?"

Scripture? - "When... when we're reading the church book at night.  I like night."

Poem? - Music Lesson by Shel Silverstein 

Motto? - "Feefee"

Ambition? - "Be dad"

College? - "I want to go to school"

Mission? - America

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

My Current Daydream Becomes Reality

My cell phone started ringing in the middle of my morning meeting today...

(It's the school.  Which kid is it?  Did I miss something?  Are they sick?  Are they hurt?)

"Mrs. McKinnon, we're calling about your oldest son."

(My oldest son??  Sigh!  I'll bet it was that stupid Trevor kid.  Maybe we should tell him not to play soccer during recess anymore.  Dang it, now I gotta think about consequences.  How soon can I get out of this meeting?)

"Actually, we're calling to tell you that this month he's made the 200 Club."

"Oh... Um..." (What the heck is the 200 Club?)

"We wanted to call and tell you the good news."

"So this is good?"


"You mean... you're actually calling to tell me my child did something GOOD at school?"



"Mrs. McKinnon??" 

Friday, November 14, 2014


Book? - Holes by Louis Sachar

Song? - "Best Day of My Life" by American Authors

Scripture? - The story of Ammon.

Poem? - Sarah Cynthia Silvia Stout Would Not Take The Garbage Out by Shel Silverstein 

Motto? - "Just do this"

Ambition? - Inventor

College? - BYU

Mission? - Russia

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Finally... Halloween 2014


October is
when night guzzles up
the orange sherbet sunset
and sends the day
to bed
before supper
October is when jack-o'-lanterns
grin in the darkness
            strange company crunches
across the rumple of dry leaves
to ring a doorbell.
October is
when you can be ghost,
            a witch,
                        a creature from outer space…
almost anything!
And the neighbors, fearing tricks,
            give you treats.

-Bobbi Katz-