Monday, November 30, 2015


It is exactly never like this!
Commentary by Greta Palmer

Words cannot express how grateful I am that the Thanksgiving holiday is over! Sure, it is supposed to be a marvelous time with family, friends, good food, and a season to reflect on one’s blessings. But this year, like many, many before, was taken over by so much awkwardness, guilt, anxiety, and what can only be described as weaponized consumerism that now that it is Monday morning I feel my heart swell with gratitude to the Lord for bringing Thanksgiving to an end.

Every year I try to tell myself that this one will be different, but it always turns out the same. Wednesday we reviewed Thursday’s schedule so that we were all on the same page—what time we would go visit my husband Taylor’s family and what time we’d visit mine, who would make what food and when, and how the kids would act around their cousins and weird uncles. But Thursday rolls around and it never goes according to the schedule. The inevitable Turkey Bowl lasts longer than the guys say it will, someone has inevitably torn an ACL, and if a fight hasn’t broke out there then it will break out somewhere between the pumpkin pie and the kid’s table once lunch rolls around.

This year, again, we got to my in-laws house and I was told “oh, you’re not late, we just call it ‘Greta time.’” And I love being told that my mashed potatoes are “a lot better than they were last year” and that I’m “really on my way to becoming a good cook and mother.” Nothing like first preparing plates for my complaining youngest children only to sit down to a meal richly seasoned with a healthy sprinkling of passive aggression!

My family is no better—women badmouthing the men who are in the other room yelling at a televised football game. Taylor and I inevitably get testy and annoyed with one another, making a bad situation worse.

If that Thursday were not enough, then comes the next day, appropriately called Black Friday, where consumerism, greed, wrath, and envy add the fourth witch to stir a Macbeth-like caldron of anxiety, fear, and despair. Every year I tell myself to not go overboard, not to be suckered in by deals that may cost less money but which are expensive in terms of my mental health. But then I end up in some long line in a store with too many people (and I’ve had too little sleep) fighting with another woman over trinkets to save maybe eight dollars over getting it next week. And this year the madness started on Thursday!

One new wrinkle this year: thank you, Max and Maddie, my very noisy newlywed cousins who “crashed at our place.” You gave Taylor and me a chance to discuss “married love” with our children. Oh, and a little pro tip: don’t leave the wrapper at the top of the trashcan in the nine year-old’s bedroom where you stayed the night, as that necessitates yet another awkward conversation.

So yah, I’m so very grateful that Thanksgiving is over!

Monday, November 23, 2015


“At least we didn't have to go up and sing!”
Brockton, MA—Jordan Rocha, an 8 year-old in the Brockton Massachusetts ward, experienced deeply conflictive feelings about stake conference over the weekend.

“Well, for one thing, the car ride to Boston is so long and boring, and Nathan (6 year-old younger brother) is so annoying,” reported the young sister Rocha. She went on to explain that “Maggie (2 month old sister) cried practically the whole way up there, but then mom let me have the whole bag of goldfish crackers, so that was good.”

Getting to stake conference provided little relief for the young Valiant. She stated that “we were clear back in the gym and you could hardly see the people and we had those metal chairs and that is so annoying.” Still, it was not all bad, as sister Rocha said that “I pretty much got to color the whole time and I did a really nice picture of Princess Leia on a unicorn; it is right here in my scripture bag, so I guess that was okay.” She concluded that “the meeting went on FOREVER with people just talking and talking but I didn’t have to go sister Peters’ class and see Tessa Greenwood who can be so annoying, so I guess that was good too.” 

It may or may not surprise the young sister Rocha that, though they have different reasons for feeling that way, most members of the Brockton ward including Jordan’s parents also experienced deeply conflictive feelings about stake conference.  

Friday, November 13, 2015


Policy Change...? Policy Change...? POLICY CHANGE? POLICY!? CHANGE!?

Policy change, policy change, policy change policy change, policy change, policy change, policy change. Policy change, policy change. Policy change, policy change, policy change. Policy change, policy change, policy change, policy change. Policy change. Policy change, policy change, policy change, policy change. Policy change, policy change, policy change. Policy change, policy change.

Policy. Change. Policy! CHANGE!

policy change

Monday, November 9, 2015


(Clich├ęd if not journalistically
lazy picture of SLC temple)

Salt Lake City, UT—Sister Helen Forrester and her granddaughter Janet Forrester-Brooks, who otherwise agree on almost nothing, followed a strikingly similar pattern and reach nearly identical conclusions about the Church’s recent policy change on same-sex marriages and their children.

Helen Forrester is a retired mother of 6 who lives in American Fork, Utah. She works as a family history consultant, regularly attends the temple, and has conservative political views that resemble those of most of the members of her ward. Her granddaughter, who is the mother of a 2 year-old, is working on her law degree at Georgetown University while her husband finishes his MBA at the same school. She has strongly contrasting political views from her grandmother, but views that resemble those of her church peer group.

When Helen and Janet both heard the news of the church policy change via social media, they experienced a first stage in an almost identical manner—shock. Neither could believe that what they heard could actually be accurate. They were also both very surprised that the news seemed to leak out instead of being announced by the Church itself. 

Janet and her grandmother next experienced an identical second stage—grief. Janet confided in her husband and Helen noted in her journal that “this news felt like a punch to the stomach.” As both worked through their grief, they also found a common source of sorrow—what would happen to the children. Janet worried about Ken and Mark’s daughter Lily. Mark had been a married, active member of the church, but eventually divorced, left the church and found a wonderful partner in Ken. Mark’s daughter from his previous marriage loved the church, and was to be baptized next year. This policy cancels that and makes any participation in the church on Mark’s part difficult at best. Janet grieved how this might impact Ken and Lily, as well as Lily’s still active mother Alyssa.

Janet’s grandmother experienced a parallel grief. She knew of several of her friends who had grandchildren from broken or blended homes. She immediately thought of Kaighlee, Brayden, and Kammie, kids whose church participation would be at least jeopardized.

Sisters Helen Forrester and Janet Forrester-Brooks wept.

In response to their grief, both sisters turned to others, to the scriptures, to church hymns, and to prayer. Both sisters found solace in hymn’s like “Where Can I Turn for Peace” and “Master the Tempest is Raging.” Both found support and comfort in the wise words of friends while still struggling with their grief. Both fasted Sunday morning, though not in a public manner for fear of how others might respond. Both happened to turn to a favorite talk, a talk that neither knew the other one liked: Sister Jayne B. Malan’s talk “The Summer of the Lambs.” Both begged the Lord that this new policy would not harm His lambs. 

While both Sister Helen Forrester and her granddaughter Janet Forrester-Brooks, as they tried to work, faithfully, through a response to this policy change, passed through parallel experiences, neither was aware of those similarities nor of how they might have supported each other.

Monday, November 2, 2015


Elder Hales’ neighbor who, despite “wild party,” 
was not at all disturbed 
Salt Lake City, UT-- More details have leaked out about an October, post-General Conference Quorum of the Twelve party that at least one participant described as “out of control.” According to an unnamed source, the party, which this year was at elder Robert D. Hales’ home, had “more caffeine-free Diet Coke and Fig Newtons than even last year’s blowout—and we all know how crazy that one got!”

Many attribute the unprecedented initiation of three new apostles into the Quorum as the reason why this year’s party was, according to M. Russell Ballard, “quite the hootenanny!” Elder Ballard, who reported on the party to staffers at the Church Office Building the next morning, said that “of course we started with a little Old Testament Pictionary, just to show the young whippersnappers how serious we were about this shindig, and by the time we got to the Hymns of the Church Name That Tune, well, as my great grandkids would put it, it was off the rope (or chain or however that goes).”

“Yes, as always there was quite the revelry,” said Elder Holland the next morning. He continued, “we were slapping high-fives, swapping stories about calling new stake presidents, telling the new guys about our first conference talks—I would even go so far as to say that some of us were on the verge of a little loud laughter—but I guess that’s just how we march or do it or roll or whatever.”

According to several staffers, the festivities “really pushed the envelope—they almost made it to 9:30 this year!” One staffer noted that “some of the new guys still seemed fresh after 9 o’clock, causing Elders Nelson and Oaks to look on and shake their heads with that look of enjoy-your-youth-while-you-can on their faces.” 

Church staffers also reported that this year’s party had to be held at Elder Hales’ home since Sister Bednar was “still a little upset after April and the mess they’d left in the downstairs rumpus room.”