Sunday, January 10, 2010

I See... When Everyone Else is Better Than You

We just finished our best family Christmas season ever. Both kids were home for the holidays, and together we ate a lot of food, saw a lot of movies, and played a lot of games together. Everyone got along and we made some great memories. After the holiday dust settled, I spent a few lazy hours on a Sunday afternoon sifting through a tall pile of Christmas cards sent to our house. It was an impressive array of family photos and clever stories covering the year in review. “We must be really popular!” I mused comfortingly to myself. After an hour or two of reading about marathons, 2nd honeymoons to Hawaii, prom queens, valedictorians, new babies and old parents, family vacations to Europe, and numberless other wild and wonderful adventures, I was slowly suffocated with the terrible realization that... everyone else was better than me.

I love my wife and kids, and wouldn't trade them for anything, but it became clear that we were living a quintessentially normal boring Mormon life, while most of our friends who had long since moved from the ward were living the exciting new active Mormon life. While everyone else was rock-climbing, scuba-diving, sending righteous sons on missions, and marrying breathtakingly beautiful worthy young men and women in the House of the Lord, I was manually de-icing the driveway, making home teaching appointments, creatively rearranging firewood in the backyard shed, and figuring out how to get the elliptic exercise bike in the basement to work. Many of our Christmas card buddies were looking forward to new jobs, new babies, and other new horizons. What was I looking forward to? The highlight of my week was our regular high-stakes trash-talking family Sunday evening LDS card game “It Came to Pass.”

The pity party didn't last long, however. When I momentarily glanced up from the netbook I was using to compose this blogpost, I saw sitting across from me on the couch a cute, creative, and obedient teenage daughter who rarely complains about completing kitchen chores and doing the right thing, quietly sketching in her art book. I saw an unusually frigid, windy wintery Maryland day outside the family room picture window and a perfectly crackling Norman Rockwell-esque fire in the fireplace to warm by worn feet inside next to me. I saw a beautiful, intriguing wife who has supported me through thick and thin making traditional noises in the kitchen and using the new “Cocomotion” machine Santa brought to whip up a batch of cherry hot chocolate. We are about to start our weekly family business meeting where we plan the details of our incredibly normal and boring week together.

Everyone else may be better than I am, but are they as happy as I am at this moment?

I think not.


  1. Uncle Richard I love this post! I all too easily fall into the trap of comparing myself to others, and it usually ends in me feeling worse about myself. Thanks for the reminder that a little gratitude goes a long way.

  2. Laura you are one of my most active readers. It's kind comments like yours that keep me thinking up content like this. Don't think that even for a moment, however, I have lost my ruthless Monopoly skills!

  3. I too love this post. I just figured out why I miss snow so much. Getting snowed in is the perfect excuse, no reason, to stay home and just 'be' with family. But so is 20 degree frigid weather in Florida! Yay for extra snuggle time!

  4. From one boring, normal Mormon family to another, I totally get where you're coming from! Great post!

  5. 珍惜當下..活在當下..祝大家都平平安安健健康康!........................................

  6. Actually, Lara, I think your family's Christmas picture and letter was one of the exciting ones...