Decorated windows can add greatly to the Christmas spirit, especially if you’re curtailing outside lighting this season. Because window decorations represent a lot of effort, try to have the family create a traditional window design that you can use again.
Painted scenes can be preserved by using poster paint or permanent felt-tip markers on heavy plastic. The plastic is available in fabric or hardware stores and comes in several widths and weights. It can be rolled up and stored for reuse. This clear plastic has transparent qualities similar to glass, without the expense and danger of breakage of glass.
Plexiglas is transparent, inflexible, and expensive, but it may work better for stained-glass effects. It comes in large sheets, about 4′ by 8′, but dealers will usually cut smaller pieces. Acrylic paints give desired translucence.
A stained-glass effect may also be achieved, although less permanently and with more clean-up required, by placing black electrical tape on the window in the desired pattern and then by painting between the black lines with poster paints. Family members of almost any age can paint the small sections.
Another family project is to create a frosted effect on windows by using waxed paper. First, have the children cut out snowflakes from pastel-colored tissue paper. Then pull enough waxed paper from the roll to cover the window twice. (Keep in mind that the sheets must overlap each other one-half inch and should be one inch longer than the window.)
On a large surface covered with butcher paper or paper bags, spread one layer of waxed paper. Seam the sheets of waxed paper together by overlapping the edges and pressing them briefly with a warm iron. In the same way prepare a second layer of waxed paper. (The butcher paper will collect the melted wax.)
Place the snowflakes on one layer of the waxed paper so that they lie flat, and cover them with the second layer of seamed waxed paper. Press all layers together with the iron. Place the finished paper inside the window and secure it with masking tape. An oval may be cut in the center to display the Christmas tree or other decoration.—, a homemaker and music teacher, is newspaper director in American Fork Third Ward, American Fork Utah Stake.
“I remember when Mom …” the story begins. A child’s face lights up, even if he’s now a grandparent himself. Only the details differ, for everyone’s memories reflect almost universal feelings for those somehow tender dynamos, mothers.
To each child, his mom is number one. The story of his childhood is the story of a mother who taught him faith, who was there when he needed her, who prepared him to eventually be independent. That’s what every mother teaches: how to live in a way that matters. And that’s what these children know.
“I remember my mother giving birth to my little sister as her eldest son lay close to death in another part of the hospital,” recalls Sherri Zirker, whose mother, Sister Lora Magnusson, was Mother of the Year in the state of Washington. “I was only six years old, but I joined the family and friends who knelt time and again in our home praying for the recovery of my brother and the return of my mother.
“I experienced a feeling of great faith at the time as I watched our prayers being answered. It was Christmas, and the reality of Christ and the power of the priesthood supported by a little girl’s fasting and prayer took precedence over the tinsel and glitter that year.”
She remembers her mother telling stories “either from the standard works or from her pioneer heritage … stories of her polygamous grandparents fleeing to Chihuahua, Mexico, to escape the choice of giving up part of the family; of the subsequent settling of Arizona after being forced to leave during the Mexican Revolution.
“As she told her stories from the standard works, one of her favorite comments would be, ‘I’ll try to tell it like it happened, but whenever you get the chance, read it yourself right from the book. It’s twice as exciting.’ She would tell the stories in such a way that I could almost see them in front of my eyes.”
American Mother of the Year, Sister Phyllis Brown Marriott, is remembered by her son, Russell Marriott, Jr., for “her own Law of Moses. It was her philosophy for success and it included a devout respect for integrity and honesty, to the point of accepting failure rather than compromise.” His wife, Margo, enjoys her mother-in-law’s efforts second hand. She recalls when her husband told of Sister Marriott finding a bird with a broken wing. “Russell kept the bird until it died and told about burying it solemnly and putting flowers on its grave. No one but a tender mother could have instilled in that young boy such a devotion and love for one of God’s little creatures.”
Another son, Douglas, says, “Most importantly, she taught me to pray early in life. Thus I know there is a God in heaven. This faith has given me ability to have faith in myself and in others.”
J. Boyer Jarvis pays tribute to his mother, Sister Mildred B. Jarvis, Arizona’s Mother of the Year. “My mother and father gave me a second chance to live when, through their love, faith, determination, and sacrifice, they helped me survive a long and desperate illness during my thirteenth year on earth. Thereafter, they supported me with endless patience and kindness as I struggled to regain my health and adjust to the limitations imposed by a crippled leg.”
Her daughter Susann remembers, “If some unkempt man came to the door asking for food, my mother would have him do some needed chores in the yard and then would feed him a hearty meal. Frequently my mom would have me accompany her while she distributed some fresh homemade bread to the neighbors or elderly people, or take some dear elderly woman for a ride, ‘just to get out,’ because otherwise she wouldn’t have the chance. …”
Todd Britsch, son of Utah’s Mother of the Year, Sister Florence Todd Britsch, recalls that “Mom was effective (sneaky, we called it) in getting us to do our work. After drawing attention to the length of the grass for some time, she would go out and start pushing the lawn mower herself, mow a couple of strips, then quit. Somehow a partly mowed lawn looked bad enough, even to teenagers, that we would finally be motivated to finish the job.”
While Sister Britsch’s husband was studying for an advanced degree, she tended her large family in a tiny, two-bedroom apartment in campus housing. She read to them in the evenings so her husband could study in a quiet house. Daughter Merlene Roberts says, “I’ve read Black Beauty and The Wind in the Willows since, but they haven’t had near the meaning or enchantment they had in our family reading time.”
Younger mothers are appreciated, too. Each month Sister Claudia Porter Black, Utah’s Young Mother of the Year for 1974, paints the windows of her home, with her children’s help, in decorations appropriate to the season. When they moved from California recently, Sister Black received a letter from a woman she had never met who had been driving her own children past the Black’s home each month to show them the windows. She says, “You never know when others are watching your example.”
Sister Darla D. Anderson, Ohio’s Young Mother of the Year, is also devoted to good motherhood, a career she ennobles. Her desire to be a mother has brought both heartbreak and joy to her and her husband, Ray. Three of their four children lived only a few hours after birth. Her daughter, Rachel, is now a year old, and they have adopted Katie and Kelly.
Through it all, she has been a devoted Church worker and wife. Her husband recalls an example of how she has encouraged him to honor his priesthood. “It started with the premature birth of our first child, who lived only about 24 hours. Darla wanted me to bless this child and give it a name. Since then I’ve gone to the ‘premie’ nursery three other times to bless and name our children.
“Her quiet acceptance of the deaths of our three children, along with her faith that these children are not lost forever, has given us both the courage to adopt two others and plan for an even larger family both here and in the hereafter.”—, mother of two sons and a freelance writer, lives with her husband in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Cathy Larson, Visiting Teacher
Cathy Larson is in her early twenties, has two little girls, and is married to a very busy husband. Her calling in the Church is to be a Relief Society visiting teacher, and she is assigned to visit my mother.
Mother is in a nursing home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and I live in California. Last Christmas Cathy Larson gave me the priceless gift of knowing my mother had a family to be with and people to care for her, even though she was so far away at this special time.
Mother wrote of a delicious Rocky Mountain trout Christmas dinner, and, including her in family gift giving, Cathy had sewn her a pair of warm slacks to wear on frequent trips from the nursing home to the hospital.
As Mother’s visiting teacher, Cathy has often given me the gift of knowing there was someone near her. Although visiting teachers normally visit once a month, Cathy drives many miles to see Mother nearly every week, taking her homemade bread or some other treat she is allowed to eat. Often she washes and sets Mother’s hair while she is there, and lately Cathy has also assisted in bathing Mother. When Mother has required hospitalization, Cathy has visited her there, too.
When time permits, Cathy writes me of Mother’s progress. She writes as one who gives love unselfishly, telling me that she has learned things through this experience that have enriched her own soul. And Mother tells me that she has found another daughter in this benevolent sister’s service.
This is the gospel of Jesus Christ and the spirit of Relief Society in action.—, mother of five boys, teaches Primary in Lake Natoma Ward, Fair Oaks California Stake.
Small children can be just as happy with inexpensive, homemade toys as they are with expensive, elaborate ones, and the money saved by making playthings from common household items can be used to buy a tricycle, bicycle, or some other more costly item.
A small, sturdy box makes a fine boat to float around in the bathtub, and can even hold small treasures or a cake of soap.
Log houses and fences can be made from clothespins.
Materials for making dolls are plentiful. A clothespin doll can be fashioned by drawing a face on the head of a pin and wrapping a piece of bright cloth around the neck. The old familiar stocking doll is a white sock stuffed with rags with a face painted on, and even a paper bag stuffed with scraps and tied can substitute as a doll for a very small child.
A five-cornered doll may be made from two pieces of cloth that are cut in the shape of a star with pinking shears. Sew the pieces together on the right side of the material about one-fourth inch from the pinked edge, leaving an opening through which to stuff the doll with stuffing, cotton, or scraps cut from old nylon stockings. Close the opening, embroider on the eyes, nose, and mouth, and attach small bells to each of the points of the star, if you wish.
Paper dolls may be made by pasting figures from the fashion pages of magazines onto cardboard, and then trimming around the edges. Clothes for these dolls may be made from tissue or crepe paper.
Paste a large colored picture from a magazine on a piece of cardboard, and then cut the picture into four or five obvious pieces for a simple puzzle.
Sewing cards may be made by pasting pictures on cardboard, and then outlining the pictures with holes punched with an embroidery stiletto or a paper punch. A youngster could sew bright-colored yarn through the holes without using a needle. Twist one end of a long piece of yarn to a point and dip the point in a bottle of clear nail polish and let it dry. The point stiffens and can be used in place of a needle.
A large empty carton from the grocery store may be painted and used as a toy box, and a child can be taught to put his playthings in the box when playtime is over.
A pinwheel or windmill might be made from a square of colorful paper—perhaps the cover of a magazine—cut and folded as shown in the illustration, with a thumbtack holding the four turned-in corners in the center. With this thumbtack, the pinwheel may be attached to a smooth stick loosely enough so that when the child runs holding the stick out in front of him the pinwheel will revolve.—, Seattle, Washington.
Nutrition Against Disease
The December Relief Society Homemaking lesson, “Resistance and Immunity,” briefly mentioned the importance of nutrition to good health. Medical researchers add that nutrition also has a definite effect on the body’s ability to fight disease.
A medical symposium recently considered this relationship, and speakers reported research results showing that inadequate protein in the diet causes severe problems for children. Inadequate protein causes the thymus gland to produce abnormal T-cells, cells that normally provide the body with disease-fighting antibodies. These abnormal antibodies can’t combat bacterial infections and may also damage the kidneys, resulting in kidney disease.
When the diet doesn’t include enough vitamin A, infections of the respiratory, genito-urinary, and other tracts are frequent, persistent, and sometimes fatal. These problems are greatly reduced when the person receives enough vitamin A.
Such findings reinforce the fact that too much or too little of any nutrient leads to nutritional imbalance and possibly to serious health problems. As a good guideline, the National Academy of Sciences and the Food and Drug Administration have established requirements for a proper balance between proteins, fats, and carbohydrates as primary nutrients, with an adequate supply of vitamins and minerals.— and , North Shore Ward, Wilmette Illinois Stake; Dr. Fletcher is director, Section on Food Science, American Medical Association.