Thursday, December 31, 2020

Top Ten: Part One (10-6)

Here we go with the first part of the Top Ten from 2020!

No. 10: Missionary work has gone through a lot of changes this year. For some missionaries, the transition was a little easier than for others.

No. 9: Can you imagine what it was like when Nephi proposed?

No. 8: Some people find masks to be controversial. Some find them to be a new fashion accessory. There are other issues associated with mask wearing as well.

No. 7: Wards and stakes struggled to modify programs to adapt to restrictions from COVID-19. Some adaptations were more effective than others.

No. 6: Speaking of adapting to restrictions put in place by the coronavirus. This one also features Malcolm.

Tomorrow — the rest of the Top Ten!

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Top Ten: The Runners-Up (plus some bonus material)

Before we hit the Top Ten for 2020, we have the runners-up and a couple that get honorable mentions.

First, the honorable mentions:

The caption contest seemed to hit at a very good time. There were a lot of hilarious entries; this one was the winner.

Cartoonists all over took time out one Sunday in June to say thanks to front line workers. The cartoons incorporated symbols for all the folks on the front lines in facing this pandemic.

Now, for the runners-up — the ones that finished just outside the top ten.

No. 5: I think this one was a big seller because it uses a rare photo of my grandpa that most of my cousins hadn't seen. And I have a lot of cousins!

No. 4: Time took on a whole new meaning this year. Days, weeks and months blended together. There was only one good measure of time: the cookie jar.

No. 3: Ward clerks have faced a huge challenge this year. How do you count sacrament meeting attendance?

No. 2: Raise your hand if you ever heard of Zoom before March. Now we've become experts, and many of us can — and do — conduct Zoom meetings in our sleep.

No. 1: Parents have a new perspective of what it's like to be a teacher. Bless them all!

Tomorrow: part one of the 2020 Top Ten!

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

A little reflection at the end of the year

This has been an interesting year in a number of ways. There were a lot of highlights:
A lot of the work I found myself doing took on more meaning — and the pandemic played a big part in a lot of it. With that, here are the top memes from 2020:

No. 4: 2020 was the year of Baby Yoda. 

No. 3: Physical distancing is good. Spiritual distancing, not so much.

No 2: This started out as a sketchbook entry, but there were multiple requests to turn it into something more.

No 1: DMV offices closed as we found ways to provide services while reducing physical contact. The Tolkien Reading Day series emphasized staying home. Boromir added a message for DMV customers (and did I really get away with comparing DMV with Mordor?).

Monday, December 28, 2020

Sketchbook: The Countdown

In this year of COVID-19, it came as a bit of surprise to me that most of the favorite sketches are based on the Book of Mormon, and only two pandemic gags cracked the top five. Here are 2020's top six (because of a tie) from the sketchbook.

Editor's note: General Conference notes are not included in the sketchbook tally.

No. 5: Swiping dates (pre-COVID):

No. 4 (tie): Mormon corrects a mistake.

No. 4 (tie): An alternate version.

No. 3: Oral hygiene is still important.

No. 2: Nephi sets the example

No. 1: Another "plates" joke, likened unto us.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Light the World: Light 2021

Our family did a year in review activity a few days ago. Despite all the things that 2020 threw at us, there were a lot of really good things that happened as well. 

Let your light shine in 2021!

Be sure to come back on Monday when we start the 2020 retrospective and the Top Ten Countdown!

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Light the World: Goodwill to Fam

Always give good will to people who serve you food. Especially when it involves dessert!

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Light the World: Gifts from God

Today is about reflecting on the gifts God has given us, and giving thanks.

I couldn't help but revisit an old cartoon of mine and give it an appropriate update for 2020.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Light the World: Sharing Light

A couple of days ago I looked at an illustration of the Nativity and noticed that the shape of the beam of light emanating from the star. As it shone down on the manger in this particular depiction, the light formed the shape of a Christmas tree. I'd never thought of that concept before. Then I noticed in the illustration that the manger formed the base of the tree — the place where we put our gifts. 

Maybe that's something that everyone knows, but I just got it. And now I'm sharing it with you.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Light the World: Together Time

I saw today's #LightTheWorld prompt and it made me laugh: get family members together for a virtual hangout. It reminds me of school.

Very few students turn on their cameras for class, and how few actually participate in class discussions. Of course it's just like in-person school — they try to hide what they're doing from the teacher and won't volunteer to answer questions. 

Of course I see the same thing at work: lots of people on the videoconference, a lot of them with cameras off, and most of them muted.

Tuning out the teacher: it's a transferrable skill!

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Light the World: Looping Luke 2

Today's Light the World prompt suggests that we read a verse of Luke 2 and then pass it off to a friend. I asked a couple of my cartooning buddies to help me tell the story of the Nativity: Summer Bird and Arie Van De Graaff.*

"And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was the governor of Syria.)

"And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child."

"And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn."

"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night."

"And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be unto all people; For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger."

"And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."

"And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them unto heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

"And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger."

"And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning the child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

"But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

"And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them."

(Luke 2:1-20)

*As an added bonus, the last panel includes hidden pictures for you to find! Download a printable copy!

Special thanks to Summer and Arie for joining me in this project. They are amazing people!

Second bonus: There's also a video version — take a look!

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Light the World: Letters of Light

We usually have the National Honor Society kids write cards to the residents of a local nursing home. But because there's no in-person school and the restrictions on visiting nursing homes, that wasn't something we could do this year.


Friday, December 18, 2020

Light the World: Christmas Stories


We had a discussion at the office the other day about what constitutes a Christmas movie. Is it about Christmas? Does it take place at Christmastime? Was it released at Christmas? 

It was also pointed out that Die Hard and Home Alone are essentially the same movie — the protagonists are just different ages.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Light the World: Christmas Dinners

How often have you participated in a food drive, and all the donations you got looked like it was given by people who were trying to clean out the pantry?

When I was the Webelos leader, we were doing a unit on shopping and budgeting. I took the kids on a field trip to the grocery store and gave them each $5 — with the instruction to "buy stuff that you would want to eat." It had to be wrapped or canned.

The local food bank was right across the street from the grocery store. When we finished shopping, we took the food that we bought and donated it. I explained to the kids that the people who need the food bank aren't any different from you and me. The kinds of food that you like to eat are the kinds of food that they like to eat. I hope it made a difference.


Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Light the World: Shining Star

Some of the most amazing people I know are the missionaries. Over the past several months they've had curveball after curveball thrown at them, and yet they've been able to keep swinging. They have risen to each challenge with optimism, creativity and a passion for the work that is unquenchable.

They're not only stars, they're superstars!

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Light the World: Love Mom & Dad

I was amazed to discover how much smarter my parents had gotten when I came home from my mission. They got smarter when I got married and even smarter when I had kids. 

Nowadays when I hear someone say, "You remind me of your dad" I think of it as a good thing!

Monday, December 14, 2020

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Light the World: Serene Sunday

There a few things I like better than being out in the snow with the Christmas lights on. 

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Light the World: Shop With Care


We have a tradition in our family that on the first Saturday of December we deliver wreaths to widows and shut-ins in our area, we go to a Christmas tree farm and get a tree, and then we get treats at the local bakery. If we have time we go down to the bookstore on the corner and do some gift shopping. We had to make a few adjustments this year — but we made sure to grab a box of donuts before putting up the tree!

Friday, December 11, 2020

Light the World: Treats Times Two

It's said that gold, frankincense and myrrh were not unusual gifts to give a king. We often talk about what the gifts from the Magi represent, but have you considered what the gifts allowed Jesus' family to do?

Not only would the wealth ease the financial burdens of fleeing to Egypt and back — and help to sustain them while they were there — but they would also make it easier to render service to those around them.

There was, of course, symbolism to the gifts: divinity, priesthood, healing. There was a practicality to them as well.

Those Wise Men were pretty smart guys!


Thursday, December 10, 2020

Light the World: Light the Family Tree

The gist of the story is true — my grandpa and his brother used to ride their horses to the schoolhouse every morning and fire up the coal stove. That's how my grandpa learned the value of an education; that's how they were able to pay for their schooling.

Fast forward several decades, and my son found himself mucking out stables in exchange for piano lessons. It's not quite the same thing, but the lesson learned was the same.

On a related note, there's a really cool site you should check out. BYU's Family History Technology Lab has created some fun games you can play with your relatives! Log on with your Family Search ID and see what they have. My favorite is the matching game (no, it's not like Mutual for your ancestors). Give it a shot — it's fun!


Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Light the World: Words of Love

The prompt for today's Light the World is  to send a favorite book to a faraway friend. The book I want to share is "Mormon Life" by Arie Van De Graaff — one of many in the Ward Cartoonist collection.

I remember stumbling across the book in Deseret Book one day. At that time I had given up on cartooning (for a variety of reasons). I picked up Arie's book and noticed that his humor and writing style were similar to mine. His drawing style was somewhat similar to mine. If he could do it, maybe so could I!

It was a moment that gave me hope. It was a step that got me back on the cartooning path. Blame him.

If you aren't acquainted with the Ward Cartoonist, check out his webpage. I also suggest signing up for his weekly Come, Follow Me Activity Page

*This is NOT a paid commercial endorsement. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Light the World: Health Caring

It's hard to say enough about health care workers and first responders — especially this year. 



Monday, December 7, 2020

Light the World: Signs of Christmas

I try to light the world with my Christmas lights. Or at least keep the neighborhood lit up!

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Light the World: Fast Relief

Whenever I fast, I find that it helps if I not only think about what I'm fasting for, but what I'm fasting from. 

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Light the World: Pay it Backward

As we learned from the #GiveThanks campaign, once you get into a gratitude mindset it's easy to think of things to be thankful for. Likewise, once you get thinking about people who have served you it's a lot easier to think about service you can give to other people.

Or, as Bill and Ted say, "Be excellent to each other!"

UPDATE: I came up with a better caption: