When I was younger, I often heard grown-ups mention how much they loved listening to the speakers from General Conference and I privately thought they were kind of full of it. At the time, GC was only exciting because we got to stay in our jammies all day instead of getting dressed up for church. We were allowed to lounge and eat yummy food and draw or color as long as we were quiet and at least acted like we were listening. My parents would turn on the Saturday session as well and listen as they went about their regular work. I thought they were nuts for wanting to voluntarily listen to church stuff on a saturday. As I got older, experiences helped me value the messages shared in conference more, but I still wouldn't say that I looked forward to it other than that I still enjoyed the novelty of not getting out of my pajamas. Part of me continued to think that people who who claimed to crave hearing wisdom directly from our prophet and leaders were exaggerating a tiny bit.
I am here to officially retract that. I now genuinely look forward to General Conference. While I still have a healthy and genuine respect for being not having to get myself or my children into church clothes, I find myself excited to hear what is going to be said. I am surprised at how much I look forward to hearing what Elder Holland is going to say this time or that I perk up when I hear President Uchtdorf's now familiar accent. His talks touch me often enough that I find myself seeking out copies of past ones when I am having a particularly down day. I am genuinely reassured by the consistent reminders that the Lord holds a special interest for me, not only as a mother, but as a single one and will help me fill in the spiritual gaps in our home. I need to hear that my kids and I will not want for lack of in-house priesthood ;-) Raising my kids in this gospel is important to me but it is never a job I thought I would have to tackle alone. Teaching, encouraging and hoping that my children choose the path I know is best for them is a scary thing for me, as is the idea of bearing the burden of heartbreak alone if they stray. More than ever, I am grateful for the assurances from the lips of leaders I trust that I am not alone in this area at least. I do need those reminders often as well as testimonies of the importance of taking the hard road even when quitting feels more do-able. I finally feel like I can fully appreciate the "mortal messengers with angelic messages" that gather to speak particular comfort, encourangement and guidance to anyone willing to listen throughout the world twice a year.
So, when my kids complain now that General Conference is boring, I get it. But, I really hope they also 'get it' someday as well. In the meantime, we have established a few traditions over the last few years to make the day more noticeable for them. I hope that in the years to come, it will help the kids associated GC with good memories and good traditions. Aside from being good instruction, I remember General Conference as being good family time as well. Behold our creation:
I can make a wicked fort when I need to. It has rooms and everything. We are lucky that we don't have any more chairs in the house, or else it would have been bigger. Cleaning it up wasn't as much fun as setting it up. They emerged every hour or so to get more food or add toys to the collection inside. I don't think they have ever been so entertained or so quiet for so long.
Junior even designated a bathroom, although he was a little miffed when I wouldn't let him use the red cup he is holding as a real toilet. I am more than happy to be the bad guy on that one.
And in the tradition of Mormons everywhere, we make cinnamon rolls. The boys get really into helping me cook and this is a good treat for little helpers. General Conference around here means strengthening your soul while blocking your arteries a little.
Listen to/Read General Conference Here and if you only listen to one thing, let it be Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's talk in the afternoon Sunday session.