I’m back in the frozen wasteland of Virginia, after soaking up the sun for two weeks of vacation. When I got home, there were still more letters from grandparents that arrived while I was out of the country.
Alas, it’s time to move on to a new topic. But I do have one humorous email I received that applies to this topic, even though it wasn’t sent to me for publication. Here it is:
GRANDPARENTS’ ANSWERING MACHINE:
Good morning. At present we are not at home, but please leave your message after you hear the beep.
If you are one of our children, press 1 and then press the number from 1 to 5, depending on your birth “arrival,” so we know who it is.
If you need us to stay with the children, press 2. If you want to borrow the car, press 3. If you want us to wash your clothes and do your ironing, press 4. If you want the grandchildren to sleep here tonight, press 5. If you want us to pick up the kids at school, press 6. If you want us to prepare a meal for Sunday or to have it delivered to your home, press 7.
If you want to come to eat here, press 8. If you need money, dial 9. If you are going to invite us to dinner or take us to the theatre start talking; we are listening!
My last words on the subject of grandparenting are these: As often as you press 1-9 on that imaginary answering machine, you should be doing something that is pleasurable for the parents/grandparents who are listening at the other end of the line. The Golden Rule applies to parents and grandparents just as surely as it does to strangers. If you hope to get favors from your family members, it goes a long way if you give at least as many favors as you hope to receive.
Now that the subject of exhausted grandparents is exhausted, we have a new topic for your consideration. Imagine, if you will, wards who share a building, but do not share good will. Here is what our reader had to say:
I have been thinking about rivalries between wards and wondering if they exist in other places.
More than one ward meets in our church building. One of the wards only encompasses the wealthy part of town and has a larger, stronger ward membership. Our ward, on the other hand, encompasses the entire downtown and the eastern part of the city, which does not generally include a wealthy demographic.
Despite covering a larger area, our ward has a significantly smaller population and we struggle to fill callings. We have a more diverse membership in our ward, and that means our membership can have significant welfare needs.
Every time the wards are realigned there is a hope that somehow the wealthier ward will be broken up and the other wards in the area will somehow benefit from its reorganization, but this has never happened to my knowledge.
In the meantime, there is rampant jealousy of the wealthier ward and its apparent advantages. I know that with the way the Church administers its finances, it shouldn’t matter. However, if people choose to spend their own money to improve the quality of church activities, they are going to appear to be better, at least from the outside.
Families consciously choose to move into that ward because of the larger Primary and fully administered programs, and there is frustration that somehow our ward isn’t perceived as worth living in. (We have a huge turnover of people as married students move on to bigger and better things.) There is also a problem with youth ward-surfing so that they can go to church with more people their own age.
I understand that in an ideal church this wouldn’t be an issue, but it is a real stumbling block for some members in our ward. So my question is this: How can members of wards that are at a real (or imagined) disadvantage overcome the feeling that they are not as good as another ward?
Looking at the Green Grass on the Other Side of the Ward Boundary
That’s an intriguing question, Looking. I have lived in both a Cinderella ward and an Ugly Stepsister ward in my life, and neither situation is a good one. I remember being activities chairman and having an annual budget of $450, only to learn that an activities chairman in an adjacent stake had an annual budget in excess of $20 THOUSAND because of private donations. Quoting a mantra from the novel Animal Farm, “All are equal, but some are more equal than others.”
Okay, readers, what are your experiences in this area? Do you have any suggestions for Looking? How can she overcome her feelings of inferiority? And how can her ward thrive when they are constantly being compared to a wealthier ward and found wanting?
Send your answers to [email protected]. Put something in your subject line to let me know your email isn’t spam. Looking is looking forward to hearing from you!
Until next week — Kathy
“Men are equal; it is not birth but virtue that makes the difference.”