Christmas Card Keepsake

A few years ago when we began our family, I wondered what to do with the wonderful Christmas cards, photos, and newsletters we received each holiday season. I mentioned my dilemma to a friend who suggested that I put them in an album. Now, each year after the holidays, I sort through the cards and letters we received. Anything that is handmade, has a photo, or contains information about a particular family’s experiences that year, I save. Then, when I have a spare hour, I simply slide them into archival sheet protectors. Occasionally, I’ll write a brief note explaining our family’s connection to a particular person. But I don’t worry about decorating anything or making it a complex project. I let the beautiful cards and newsletters show themselves. Our Christmas album is a festive green, so it’s easy to spot and pull out each December. We leave it out to enjoy throughout the season.

Kerry Griffin Smith, Idaho

[illustration] Illustration by Joe Flores

A Job Well Done

Vacuum upstairs: $1. Take out the garbage: 25¢. Whenever our children wanted to earn money, they consulted our family “job board.” A wooden cutout of a house, our board had a cup hook at the top for each child. Along the bottom, hooks containing key tags indicated various jobs and payment for each. When our children completed a job, they hung the respective tag on their hook.

“Payday” was usually every Saturday, but sometimes we allowed emergency funds. Or if we noticed that a job hadn’t been done well, we decreased the “wage.” When paying our children, we always gave them enough change so that they could put 10 percent in their tithing box and 10 percent in our family’s missionary fund. As parents, we matched any contributions to the latter fund, enabling our family to eventually pay for one full mission.

If you’re not comfortable paying your children an allowance, you could easily establish other rewards for a job well done, such as family outings or special dinners or privileges.

This earning system helped our children learn the value of earning money and doing a job well, a lesson they are passing on to their children.

Douglas B. Pulley, California

Purifying Water

If you have used all your potable water in an emergency, what can you do? Following are simple water purification methods recommended at To help you better remember the information should the need arise, cut out this article and laminate or seal it in a plastic bag, to be stored in your emergency kit.

  • Filtration. Find the cleanest water available. Let any particles in the water settle first, or strain them through layers of clean cloth or paper towel. There are many good water filters available. The activated charcoal type can also remove bad tastes. Some models add chemicals to kill bacteria.

  • Boiling. Bring water to a rolling boil for three to five minutes. The higher the elevation, the longer the water should be boiled. To improve the flavor once it’s cooled, put oxygen back into the water by pouring it back and forth between containers.

  • Chemical. Use 8 drops (1/2 teaspoon) of household liquid bleach (5 percent sodium hypochlorite) per gallon of water if the water is clear and not already chlorinated. Add 16 drops (1 teaspoon) of household bleach per gallon if water is cloudy. Before using, let water stand for 30 minutes. If you prefer, you can also purchase effective treatment chemicals from most outdoor supply stores.

  • Distillation. Unlike the other water purification methods above that remove only microbes, this technique will also remove other contaminants. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), you begin by filling a pot halfway with water. Tie a cup to the pot lid’s handle so that the cup will hang right-side-up over the water when the lid is placed upside down on the pot. Check that the cup is not touching the water. Boil the water for 20 minutes. The water that drips into the cup is distilled. You can also purchase distillation equipment, but it can be expensive.

Family Home Evening Helps: Homemade Games

My family has found that personalized, homemade games can be a fun way to teach the gospel, focus on family heritage, and strengthen family bonds.

With a little preparation, your family can enjoy several word and name games. You can use words from gospel vocabulary and titles of hymns and Primary songs. You can also write down words, names, or short references to stories from the standard works. Another idea is to use the names of heroes from world and Church history, as well as names of your extended family and ancestors. With this last game, try to go back several generations, and have fun looking up any ancestors you aren’t familiar with.

For each of these games, write the applicable words or names individually on craft sticks or small pieces of paper and have a timer on hand. Each round is played for a minute or two, and most of these games can be played four different ways:

  • Divide into teams and describe as many words as you can in the time allowed as your teammates try to guess the words.

  • Use charades to act out the gospel words or the people in your family.

  • Mold in clay an item for others to guess.

  • Divide into two teams, and have a player from each team draw the concepts while team members guess for points.

For all of these games, the team with the most correctly guessed words after a few rounds of play wins. Your family can determine any special rules and the reward for winning. But everyone wins when family time is strengthened with simple activities like these that make gospel learning fun.

Melodie M. Webb, Utah

[illustration] Illustration by Beth Whittaker