No-Fuss Family History

For Christmas one year, each of our family members received a binder titled “Our Family—Then and Now.” Sectioned to store past and present information, these simple gifts helped us to begin recording our family’s history. One Sunday each month our family members all gather to write on a specific “then” topic, such as “Memories of times I spent with Dad,” “What I have learned from Mom,” “My most embarrassing moment,” or “What I remember about my baptism.” That same evening we also write about recent family events and personal experiences, especially those that occurred during the month. Some family members have recorded highlights such as babies’ births or blessings, children’s lost teeth, good test scores, or funny experiences. We help those too young to write, and long-distance family members mail or e-mail their contributions. A family member types the handwritten drafts, and on a subsequent Sunday, family members each receive a copy of the finished product to read and place in their binders. This Sunday activity unites our family. We share our trials and triumphs and focus on blessings we have received from the Lord.Kristin W. Belcher, Riverton 10th Ward, Riverton Utah Central Stake

[illustration] Illustrated by Joe Flores

Our Ward’s Gift of Service

At Christmastime we often sing of “peace on earth, good will to men.” The spirit of Christmas moves many of us to help others in Christlike ways. Still, despite our best intentions, the busyness of numerous holiday preparations and celebrations can cause us to lose our charitable focus. A few years ago, our ward decided to change the plans for our annual Christmas party. Instead of having the usual elaborate dinner, entertainment, and visit from Santa Claus, we celebrated the season with a potluck dinner and service activity of helping homeless men in a nearby city. The project touched our hearts and added meaning to our celebration of Christmas. Following is a brief description of our service project with suggestions for planning a successful activity.

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    Plan early. Well before the activity, we talked to representatives of the homeless shelter to see what items were most needed. They said women and children are more often the recipients of service, so we decided to focus on the men’s needs this time. The shelter suggested we provide personal grooming items, primarily to help the men make themselves more presentable for job interviews. Then our Relief Society sisters donated fabric and made 260 over-the-shoulder bags to store the toiletries and other gifts we would give.

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    Involve everyone. To reach our goal of filling 260 bags, we invited ward members to contribute soap, shampoo, shaving cream, razors, and other items. Several companies also donated needed goods, and we added candy for a festive touch. Then we organized like items in cardboard boxes and placed them on a table in one room of the meetinghouse. The youth formed an assembly line to fill the bags, and the Primary children made Christmas cards in another room. In a third room, the brethren made checkerboard games, while the sisters gathered in the cultural hall to make 10 quilts for the shelter. Throughout the evening, some members moved from room to room, helping one another in a unified effort.

We added to the joy of the evening by starting with a simple potluck meal and ending with Christmas songs sung by the Primary children, accompanied by two brethren playing guitars. Enhanced by the spirit of Christmas, our evening of service helped us to focus more fully on others’ needs as the Savior would have us do.Martha D. Harger, Sandy 13th Ward, Sandy Utah West Stake

Making Family Home Evening Glow

As busy parents of five children, we wanted to make family home evening special. My husband and I decided to organize a candlelight dinner.

First, we sent our older children on a search for candles around our home, and they returned with taper candles, scented candles, birthday candles, and more. Later at dinner, after dishing up everyone’s plate and filling the water glasses, we lit several candles in the middle of our dining room table and turned off the lights. Through the candlelight, we noticed our children’s faces glowing as a seven-year-old, a five-year-old, a three-year-old, a two-year-old, and a baby all dined by candlelight together. The dimmed lights stilled our busy home, and the soft glow quieted our hectic lives.

As we asked a blessing on our dinner, we truly felt the Holy Spirit with us. The children spoke in hushed tones and remembered their manners as if they were seated in a fancy restaurant. Before we even cleared the dishes, the children were begging to “eat with candles tomorrow.” Our decision to reserve these special candlelight dinners for family home evenings was rewarded with cheers of excitement.

Now our children look forward to Monday nights with great anticipation as we enjoy our candlelight meal together. The wonderful atmosphere around our table carries over into our family home evening and enlivens lessons, songs, prayers, and treats.Kathy L. Wilde, Shelley Eighth Ward, Shelley Idaho Stake

[illustration] Illustrated by Beth M. Whittaker

A Child’s First Budget

Parents can help young children begin learning the fundamentals of financial management by implementing a few basic ideas.

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    To learn how to manage money, a child needs a source of income. For many, this comes from an allowance. Allowances may include money that would be spent on a child anyway. Some suggest parents pay a fixed sum regularly. How much and how often depend on the age of the child and on the family’s circumstances. Young children may do best with a weekly allowance.

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    Children also need a way to earn extra money. Being paid for jobs at home or around the neighborhood may be your child’s first step toward financial independence. One way to do this is to sit down with your child and agree on a list of jobs and determine appropriate compensation for each. Children are free to do or not to do jobs on the list.

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    Begin a very simple budget to be used for all income. Tithing should be paid first and should be kept separate from other money. When a child learns to write, that child is ready to begin filling out a donation slip.

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    Next, budget long-term savings. Open a savings account and help the child make regular deposits. Some parents deposit funds equal to the child’s deposits. These funds are to be saved for future missions or other “grown-up” expenses.

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    Help a child budget all remaining funds. This might include a short-term savings can or jar where funds can accumulate for items on a child’s wish list. In addition, some funds need to be spent on other people, such as buying birthday gifts. The remaining funds should be spent as a child wishes.

For a child to develop into a fiscally responsible adult takes time. Beginning to budget while children are young can help them grow into confident, disciplined young adults who are prepared to meet the financial challenges ahead.Jerry Mason, Vienna Ward, Oakton Virginia Stake