The One with the South Pasadena Relief Society Christmas Program


Friday, December 7, 2012

Right after Jane was born I received a new calling: Chair of the Relief Society Activities Committee. A couple weeks later there was a "Meet and Tomatoes" evening (we learned how to make salsa and got to know each other a bit better with a questionnaire) but thankfully I didn't have to do much for it besides design the invite; I was a li'l preoccupied with my bundle of joy! Fast forward a few months to this second week of December and we've got not one but TWO parties/programs! We've been meeting as a presidency frequently to hash things out and last night was the South Pasadena Relief Society Christmas Program. 

First, I designed the invitation (if you're looking to copy one for your own church party - check out my etsy listing HERE):
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I uploaded it to Costco and got it printed onto thick tagboard then every Sunday before church for the past three weeks I've gone a half hour early to set this and the Ward Christmas Party poster up on easels outside the entrances to the chapel. I also posted it to the RS blog, printed it out tiny and inserted it into the programs, emailed it out a few weeks ago, and then emailed it again on Tuesday. I probably got really annoying with all my reminding!

Then came figuring out how to decorate! Where to turn than trusty Pinterest? I browsed through Christmas boards and found these ideas:
Filling apothecary jars with bows, ornaments, and candy. The jars I got for Fox's first birthday party came in handy once again!
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Sewing doilies together and dangling them all around as well as making snowflakes out of popsicle sticks (thank you so much to the young women who came and helped make the popsicle stick snowflakes and peel apart some doilies!):
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I purchased 3000 doilies in three different sizes for about $50 from papermart.com. I enlisted the help of several friends peeling them apart and sewing them together. Of course I left my portion 'til the last minute! Doilies took over our apartment yesterday!
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Once Chris got home from school I dashed over to the Community Room at the South Pasadena Library to begin transforming it into a winter wonderland.
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There were people already there willing and ready to help - it was so great. We hung all the doily strands up around the room.
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We arranged the popsicle snowflakes up front.
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And then in the back we set up the twinkling treat table. Everyone who came brought something to share.
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At 7:00pm the program started. There was a really good turnout - nearly every one of the 75 chairs we set up was taken!
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The theme was "The Women Who Knew Jesus." (The stories can be downloaded here).

Now, I'm not really one to cry over sappy things or get moved to tears or overly emotional, but believe you me, there was not a dry eye at the end of the program, me included - I was not expecting that!

Essentially, there were 6 women who told stories from different perspectives: Elizabeth (the mother of John), the mother of Joseph, the mother of Mary, the wife of a shepherd, the wife of the keeper of the inn, and Mary. Between each speaker was a lovely musical number by the talented ladies in our ward. It was when the inn keeper's wife's story was being told that I first got a little weepy:

"For generations, my husband's family have been keepers of an inn here in Bethlehem. And now, together, we do the same. Ours is a small inn, humble and unpretentious, nevertheless as clean as we can make it. We take pride in our simple but carefully prepared meals, our scrubbed floors, and well-aired bedding. Sometimes there are flowers growing from our window pots and we take pleasure in our small business. It is not a large town, this Bethlehem of Judea, and most of those calling it home are simple farmers and shepherds. And yet, still and all, it is a beloved and revered village, endeared to Jewish hearts as the birthplace of David and that of the prospective Messiah.
Each morning, for many years, I have swept clean the pack earth in front of our door, and have looked into the faces of those passing through our small village. I have seen many things there -- anger, despair, pride, acceptance, peace, selfishness, exhaustion. The faces I forgot, but the things I saw there stay with me, reminding me of how fortunate I am to be at peace -- content with my life and those things the Lord has seen fit to bestow upon me.
And then came the time of the tax rolls, the proclamation of Caesar Augustus that here shall be a taxing and registration of the house of David.  t was the second of three such registrations to be held at intervals of about twenty years. Sleepy Bethlehem was not itself. Its quiet streets were choked with dust and filled with the voice of tired, hurrying people. The outer inn was filled to the rafters, and to escape for a moment, the noise, the heat and the hurry, I fled to my dooryard.
As was my custom, I stood for a moment, gazing down the street, studying the faces. There was a donkey, and leading it, a strong young man, obviously fatigued and yet different somehow. There was pride in the face -- and dignity. He was a poor man, and yet I have seen, passing my door, great men of the world, with much less a look of nobility.  This was a man of the house of David, a house of kings, and here was one of the same royal lineage. Yet he was more.  And then I saw the face of the young woman riding, exhausted and great with child on the back of the donkey.  If the man leading the animal had about him the air of royalty, this surely was a queen. Her face was drawn with fatigue and her simple robes powdered with the fine light dust that lies thick along the roads of Judea. And yet no trace of discontent, no shadow of complaint, no faint inclination to murmur could I see.
Slowly they came closer and stopped before me. Quietly the young man asked for lodging and my heart fell. Perhaps it was because I knew so well how it is to be tired and heavy with child, but perhaps I sensed something from the young couple that drew from me a desire to comfort and serve. I don't know, but I did know that within that hot, crowded, noisy and odorous inn there was no room, no single corner fit for the birth of a child -any child - but especially this child.
My mind raced. My own room? Impossible.  I was crowded already with my own children and members of my family who had come to pay the same tax. The sheds behind? No again, they were small and dark, overrun with mice, dirty with disuse.  But there was a stable -- the shelter we kept for our animals in the hills behind the inn.  here would be clean sweet straw, open areas to admit freshness and light, but most of all, peace and privacy.
And so it was to a humble stable I led them -- these two extraordinary young people. And having done for them what I could, I left them to rest and returned to the inn.
Evening came, following it, the night -- that night. The night foretold for centuries, hoped for, prayed for, whispered of around campfires and in synagogues, during wars, under oppression, on death beds. For on that night, made glorious by a burning and brilliant star and the voices of the hosts of heaven itself, was born in my stable, the Son of God, the Redeemer of all mankind, the Savior of the world -- Jesus the Christ.
I saw him, lying still and small, in a common manager. I stood by while humble shepherds filled with the power and perception of the Holy Spirit bore witness that it was, indeed, the Messiah. I stood in the shadows, gazed at the radiance of his person, the indescribable look of joy and peace and love that transfigured the face of his mother and that of Joseph, the man chosen to care for him.   was, and I bear solemn testimony -- irrefutable, unshakable, even till death, that I saw born to Mary the virgin, the son of the highest, the only begotten of the Eternal Father -- Jesus, the Christ."

Then, when Tara stood up to tell the final story from Mary's point of view, everyone lost it. Tara is pregnant with a baby boy, just like Mary! And Tara was crying, so that didn't help anyone's cause. The closing performance was Silent Night sung a cappella by a quartet of my sweet friends. So so beautiful. Everyone felt the spirit so strongly. It was a memorable evening and I'm so glad we were each given a little ornament with a picture of Christ printed on a piece of vellum and tucked inside to always remember this night. 
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All in all, I'd say the night was a success and I'm so glad to have been apart of it.
Bring on the Ward Christmas Party!

20 comments

  1. Looks like it was a wonderful event!! I loveeeeeeeeee the doilies and the snowflakes!! They are beautiful!!! And the jars are a fab idea!!!! LOVE THEM!!!! What a beautiful story too!!!

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  2. Everyone was given an ornament with a picture of your husband?
    lol I kid....but still, that typo made my chuckle.

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  3. Ha! Thanks for reading so carefully as to notice that typo Laycie! I've fixed it to say Christ instead of Chris. I'm just so used to typing Chris!!

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  4. BEAUTIFUL!! The room looked STUNNING and thank you so much for sharing these stories!! What an amazing event.

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  5. Oh my goodness! That is the best BEST invitation I have ever EVER seen! Ever! Its brilliant!!
    Britney
    http://lemonwoodandhoney.blogspot.com

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  6. it looks awesome!!! so sad we're not there!

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  7. Wow! It looks amazing! Love the card, decorations and set up!

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  8. that turned out super cool!!! What a great activity and LOVE the decorating!! cool invite!!!

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  9. I've had that calling before! Let's just say that you did a significantly better job decorating for things than I ever did :)

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  10. Oh wow, this all turned out great!!!! Love the invitations you made too :)

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  11. Paige, it was really so beautiful, and you helped create such a wonderful atmosphere! You have a gift!

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  12. OH, how fun! We didn't have an RS party... just a ward party. :-) Looks like you had a great time! How neat!!

    And your invitation is AMAZING! (of course ;-) )

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  13. Hi Paige! We love your invitation and want to use the same one for our RS Christmas Dinner. Is there any way you would be willing to send me a digital file of your invitation so we can alter it to fit our event? That might be a lot to ask, but please let me know! Thanks! You can e-mail at vgpayne22@gmail.com.

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  14. Thank you so much for all your wonderful ideas. I have also just been called to serve as the relief society meeting coordinator, and I have felt very under qualified for this calling. I always appreciate the wonderful talents of others and their willingness to share those talents. I too would love to use your invitation for our Christmas Program, and is there anyway you could post a picture of the gift that was given to each sister. I had a similar idea of giving a picture of Christ to each sister as a parting present, and would love to see yours. My e-mail is amanning1979@yahoo.com Thank you so much.

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  15. I too LOVE your invitation and would like to use it too! Thanks for sharing all your great ideas!
    jlthomas2@hotmail.com

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  16. Oh wow. This sounds so lovely! I wanted to read the stories, but the link for the download seems to be broken? :( The whole thing looked like such a beautiful time. Thank you so much for sharing!

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  17. Do you still have all the stories? The link doesn't work, but I 'd love to read them!

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  18. Katie Montgomery - you can download the file here: https://app.box.com/s/b62hf96xd3xwta0ijotwtmppujc4p8wa

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  19. Hi! I can't seem to find any music for the song 'daughter of god'. I would like to use that program for my Relief Society. Can you send me a link to the music?

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  20. I would love to use the invitation for our party. could you please email me an editable copy?
    Thank you!
    rockinrobyntracy@gmail.com

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