By Kerry Griffin Smith
Cinnamon rolls. Conference Bingo. Pajamas. For many Latter-day Saint families, General Conference weekend holds a few treasured traditions in addition to the spiritual uplift the talks and guidance provide.
Preparing for the spiritual feast often means preparing a bit for food feasts as well with families gathering for meals together between Conference sessions. The munching continues during the sessions as children, parents, and sometimes extended family cozy up by the television to hear the latest revelations from living prophets.
Picturing this as a worldwide endeavor greatly magnifies the symbolism of the feast as members tune in using various methods provided by the Internet and technology.
Make It a Spiritual Feast without Excess Preparation
There’s no one right way to prepare for the spiritual feast that is Conference. In fact, some people just come without any preparation. The invitation is always to come, to listen, and to be edified.
So many fun ideas for preparing for Conference are available online. Frankly, many of them require advance preparation and time. While some of that is good and the results can be helpful, the myriad of options can seem overwhelming, a bit costly, and simply too much.
In order to simplify but still prepare a bit for Conference Weekend, here are a few ideas you might consider and personalize for yourself and family.
Come with a Question in Mind
Do you have a life challenge you’re working on? Maybe you have a gospel-related concern or question. Whatever you need, you can come to Conference expecting to hear something that will help you persevere.
Some people write down their questions. Others just ponder them and know. One year, as our family watched Conference, we were at the home of my aunt, caring for her in her final days with cancer. In watching and listening to then-President Thomas S. Monson, we received an unexpected comfort to help lift our heavy burden.
“Throughout our lives, we must deal with change,” he said. “Some changes are welcome; some are not. There are changes in our lives which are sudden, such as the unexpected passing of a loved one, an unforeseen illness.”
All of a sudden, he had our rapt attention. His words were exactly for us. In the very next room, listening to Conference as well, lay a daughter of God about to meet her Lord and Savior.
“This is our one and only chance at mortal life—here and now. The longer we live, the greater is our realization that it is brief,” President Monson continued. “Opportunities come, and then they are gone. I believe that among the greatest lessons we are to learn in this short sojourn upon the earth are lessons that help us distinguish between what is important and what is not. I plead with you not to let those most important things pass you by as you plan for that illusive and nonexistent future when you will have time to do all that you want to do. Instead, find joy in the journey—now.”
I can’t say she felt immediate joy at hearing his words, but she did feel comfort. I remember asking her. My cousin, seated by my side, also felt the words penetrate. Though no longer a member of our faith, he stopped and listened, his emotions very close to the surface.
Honestly, I will never forget that moment, that Conference talk. It hit incredibly close to home for me–for us, bringing tremendous peace and wise counsel during a very hard, sad time. My aunt passed away just 18 days later. Listening to Conference was one of her final blessings on this earth.
But the message wasn’t just for her. More importantly, it was wise counsel to us, her family, to live with joy, to seek the things we love to do and learn, to be with loved ones, and to make good choices with our time and resources on earth.
Get to Know Church Leadership
- Read past talks.Though we don’t know exactly who will be speaking at each conference, we know the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles will be included. Click here for a convenient way to refresh your memory of them. Each picture is a link to previous Conference talks they’ve shared.
- Learn about them.There’s another extensive resource here that also shows Church leadership. Children may especially benefit from seeing the brethren a bit before Conference. You can find an organizational chart, their biographies, and some video clips of their previous talks.
If you’re so busy buying and preparing treats, downloading and printing tons of printables to entertain, and making lots of fun surprises, you might be missing out on spiritual preparation.
All of the extra things can be good and fun. Sometimes you even need a little extra, especially where children are concerned.
Over the years, I’ve realized, however, that most of the printables sit unused, and the excess sugary treats leave us feeling sluggish.
For me and my family, we’ve kept a few simple traditions. But I mostly look forward to snuggling with my nice blanket and taking notes on the talks. My children are growing up, and I no longer have to constantly entertain them. Instead, I just enjoy the spiritual feast that is Conference Weekend.
Your season of life will determine what you need to do to prepare for General Conference. If it’s not possible for you to listen uninterrupted to the talks, be sure to read or listen to them later. Digesting them in smaller increments is still a spiritual feast.
“The gospel net is the largest net in the world,” President Russell M. Nelson recently told us in April. “God has invited all to come unto Him, ‘black and white, bond and free, male and female.’ There is room for everyone.”
There is room for you especially at General Conference. Come and feast.
Kerry Griffin Smith enjoys uplifting those around her. She was a writer and editor for the former Ensign Magazine. You can find her sharing impactful, clean books and educational resources at MrsLadyWordsmith.com.