We have a new topic this week — not in the form of a question, but in the form of a letter of advice to people for how to make Halloween just a little bit more meaningful.  Before that, however, we have a few remaining letters on how families keep in touch with each other. The first of them is from Carolyn Allen, the Meridian weight loss writer who started this topic in the first place.

This is a letter we sent to our kids, outlining what our family is going to try for the next six months:

 To our dearest kids!

We love you all so much are so proud of each of you!  It’s a great blessing and a thrill to be the parents of the awesome Allens (and Tuiotis …)

I have mentioned this in one way or another to each of you at different times in different ways.

One of the few sadnesses of my life is that I have not been in touch with my brothers and sisters.  Months go by without any contact, and sometimes major events happen in the lives of my siblings and their kids — but there are too many of us to call all the time.

As a result, there is not the strength, support and fun that go with being in touch.  I always felt that Grandma and Grandpa Lee could have done more to foster family unity and communication, but they were so busy in their own world, and technology was not what it is today. 

Dad and I have always said, “Well, we can’t change that, but we can create something different for our own family.”  Now is the time.

Right now is a huge turn in the river for the Allen Family.  Each of you is at such incredibly different point.  But I know we all want to know what the others are doing.

Five, 10, or 20 years from now, what will you want to remember about how you communicated with your family?  It goes without saying that in all families, you’re naturally more in touch with some than with others — but everybody matters.

We, of course, want to be an eternal family.  As was repeated in conference last week, love is spelled T-I-M-E.  And that’s something there’s not a lot of for anyone!

But Dad and I have come up with an idea that would not take much time at all but could create wonderful blessings :  What if ….

1)  We each spend 10-15 minutes each week posting on the Family Facebook page (thank you, Justin) a paragraph or two of the highlights of your family’s week, and 2-3 things that the rest of the family should know about, or could include in prayers.  Have it in by Saturday night, and spend a few minutes reading everyone else’s postings.
If you want to respond to the others’ comments, great — but not required.

Only one post per family is necessary — and don’t make them too long!

This would in no way replace the fabulous blogs that Emily, Brooke & Cydney are doing —- just the highlights of the week, and any needs.

2)  Once a month (maybe a late Sunday Evening when the Tuiotis can easily join us)
have a family conference call, to hear each other’s voices, and say a family prayer over the phone.  It would be nice to do on Fast Sunday, but that might be too complicated, but we could make sure we know special needs for Fast Sundays. 

We’ve had many conversations on “privacy” and “secrecy” and we want so much
to be a family where we can talk and share —and where we feel like we know what’s
going on in each other’s lives.  We totally respect your individual families and your own
needs.   No need to share things that are just yours, but It will feel good to know on a regular basis about what’s happening.

As you may know, Dad and I have kept a once-a-year journal, and it’s so much fun
to look back at all the things that have happened.  With this weekly posting, I could
create a weekly family journal:  How much fun that would be to look back on?

3)  We’re really hoping for a family reunion when Cooper returns from his mission:
We’re thinking summer (or Christmas since it worked out so well with London) of 2014  in
Hawaii!  If we started working and saving now, this could work!

IF YOU THINK THIS IS A GOOD IDEA, and or have any other ideas, please let us know.

We’re thinking that we should commit to this until April Conference, then step back
and start tweaking.  We’d like to start next week, with first postings due by Saturday,
October 15.

Your thoughts?  We love you so much.

That’s what our family is doing.  Thanks for letting me know about the ideas from other families.

Carolyn Allen

Thanks for letting us know about your own family, Carolyn.  Let me know how your experiment works out!

What we do to stay in touch with our 10 grandchildren is that I write a blog for them called “The Cousin Connection.”  It started out as “Gramma and You,” but as they have gotten older it is now more about them connecting with each other as well as us.  The oldest three are 12 this year and they are beginning to submit articles to me to publish and share with each other.  

I do a nice birthday post about them on their birthdays and then recap their year as best I can from a distance. They love that.  I put stories and videos and other things on the blog to educate, share testimony, and perform other family-building functions.  I started a family history blog about our ancestors and have put some a min-bio and pictures of one of their ancestors on there too.  I plan to do this regularly in keeping with Elder Bednar’s recent conference talk. 

I have never known of anyone else that does this, but it is a great way for my husband and me to feel connected to them and for them to become friends with each other.  Few things bring more joy to grandparents than watching the grandkids enjoy each other as friends and fellow saints.  To feel that you contributed to that in a small way is the icing on the cake. 

Thanks for sharing other people’s ideas that gave us lots of new things we can try as well.

Bonnie Mattson

Thanks for sharing your ideas with us, Bonnie.  I looked at your blog and loved the colorful pictures and stories.  Grandmas, don’t be afraid of technology!  If you don’t know how to start a blog of your own, your grandkids can help you do it.

Near the first of her letter in last week’s column, Louise Crosby wrote:  “She didn’t write weekly, but when she wrote her letters were sometimes 5-10 pages typed and single-spaced volumes that I read hungrily for news of home and family. I have kept most of those letters, and she kept mine, and together they are a precious history of those years.”

I keep copies of all letters I send out, personal or business.  For the personal ones, then I have a “history,” or both sides of the “conversation.”  As I occasionally review them, I can “see” all the different things that have occurred. 

I used to make carbon copies, then I printed an extra copy from the computer, and if it’s hand-written, I make copy on a copy machine.  Now I also print out the emails.


This isn’t dramatic enough to continue the topic, but I thought you might be interested. 

Meridian Reader

Wow, Meridian Reader!  If you keep hard copies of all that, you must have a lot of correspondence!  I have nearly 300 pages of correspondence just between an old roommate and me.  (Actually, she has it.  I’ve never printed it out.)  But I can only imagine how many pages you have.  You are a major record-keeper.  Good for you!

Okay, people, here — as promised — is a letter on how to make Halloween more meaningful for you and yours;

Plans may already in the works for a Halloween “party” and a trunk or treat activity for your ward. 

Perhaps you might consider taking a different approach this year.  Why not make it into a service project instead? 

Instead of teaching children, youth, and some adults to be greedy and see how many “goodies” they can obtain, why not have them give them away goodies to others? 

Maybe have the children in their costumes visit a nursing home or retirement community on the Saturday before Halloween and talk to the residents and let the residents see their cute costumes, and have the children give out treats instead of receiving them.  You could call it “Treat and Treat,” instead of Trunk or Treat, or Trick or Treat. 

In stakes or wards that have a lot of Primary children, you could spread the wealth by dividing up your Primary organization so you could visit three or four nursing homes or retirement communities.  (This could be a ward service project the Church has asked us to do.  If successful, perhaps it could be written up for the Church News and start a new tradition for the Church and their public relations activities.) 

You could clear the activity and type of treats with the places visited to make sure the treats would not conflict with any dietary restrictions some residents might have.  And the “treats” wouldn’t have to be edible.  They could be pictures drawn by the children, an uplifting story copied onto a couple of pages, or something similar. 

The YM and YW, in costumes, could perhaps visit a children’s wing in a hospital.  Clearance with the hospital for treats (or a small toy or doll) would also be in order. 

I presented the idea to our bishopric and while not shot down out of hand, it seemed a little outside their traditions, and didn’t get accepted.  But perhaps I planted a seed. 

I think if you look at the history of Halloween, it “celebrates” those on Satan’s side of the line.  We don’t need that.  I don’t think any children are going to be eternally harmed by “tricks or treats,” but wouldn’t it be nice if they had fond memories of service on Halloween, instead of collecting, and eating, so much candy they get sick? 

When I lived in Michigan about 40 years ago, one Halloween someone started a fire in an unoccupied house.  The next day, the local newspaper reported it as a “prank.”  I was incensed and wrote them a letter and said that on any other day that would be considered a felony.  What are we teaching our children and peers by our example when we “overlook” such things? 

I’ll get down off my soapbox now. 

North Dakota Reader

What a good idea, North Dakota!  At this late stage, all the ward Trunk or Treat activities are scheduled for this year.  But who’s to say this couldn’t be done in addition to the trunk or treat— or maybe intrepid readers can squirrel away the idea for when it comes time to plan next year’s Halloween activities.

By the way, this doesn’t have to be done on a ward level.  Families (or extended families, to carry on this week’s topic) could get together and do this on a family level.   What a sweet idea!

Okay, readers, we’ll start another topic next week.  See you then!

Until next time — Kathy

“From ghoulies and ghosties and long leggety beasties

and things that go bump in the night, Good Lord, deliver us!”

Scottish saying





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Whether you want to create your own personal history or would like Kathy Kidd to do it for you, Kathy’s blog has what you’re looking for.  Go towww.planetkathy.com and click on “Writing a Personal History” to get more information.