Brotherly love at Temple Square
In recent years, my wife and I have really wanted to start the tradition of taking our family to see the Christmas lights at Temple Square, and we’ve failed to make it happen.
This year we were so determined that not even the cold weather could stop us.
It was about 10 degrees the night we ended up going. Our boys have often frustrated us by refusing to wear hats, coats and gloves. That night only one of the two fought us and ended up getting really cold. (We tried to tell you son). One daughter was in her wheelchair and the other in a stroller. We bundled them up in coats, hats and then wrapped them in blankets. Our walk around the square did not last more than 30-40 minutes.
As we wandered among the crowds and admired the lights, we found ourselves looking at a couple of statues just south of the temple. These were statues of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum. Our plan that night was simply to walk around and enjoy the lights, but in that moment, I felt impressed to point out to my boys how much these two brothers loved each other.
“One of the really cool things I know about Joseph and Hyrum is how loyal they were to one another,” I said. “They really had each other’s back, you know what I mean?”
The boys nodded. It actually seemed like that were paying attention and listening to what I said.
That was all I said. Shivering, we moved on to the reflection pool to take a few photos and then we would have to get back to the van.
That’s when I noticed something. As Kalen started to complain about the cold, his big brother Trevin put his arm around him to warm him up and told him we were almost done. I was impressed. It was like Trevin had just taken what I had said to heart.
Generally our sons get along well. They play legos, video games and zombies together. They also have their fair share of disagreements, when dad the referee has to step in and break it up. Someone always has to get the last word or punch in, just like when I was growing up with my brothers.
My relationships with my siblings have meant so much to me.
I was closest in age to my older brother Ryan. I was a year behind him in school. As we got into high school, Ryan had his friends and didn’t like me tagging along. But as we got older and experienced things together, we become close friends. Although he would throw open my bedroom door at 1 a.m. and declare loudly that I was late for school, causing me to run for the shower, and although he would occasionally dump a pitcher of cold water over the shower curtain, and although he swindled me out of my Barry Sanders rookie card (he later gave it back), we became good friends. We only dated the same girl twice, and it didn’t cause a rift. One of those girls later became my wife, but that’s a story for another time.
We had some great experiences on campouts with scouts and the young men in our ward. One that stands out is a backpacking/fishing trip we took to the Wind Rivers. Nothing spectacular happened, but we had a fun time.
We played on the varsity high school football and basketball teams together. On my 17th birthday during my junior year, the basketball coach put me in the game in the midst of a blowout loss to our rivals, the Box Elder Bees. I think we were down by 40. I was never good enough to play real varsity minutes with my brother, a senior and the team’s leading scorer/rebounder. But for a few minutes in that miserable loss, I played with my bro until he fouled out. Then I committed a turnover and was yanked back to the bench as well. It didn’t mean much at the time, but it means a little more to me now.
Another moment that meant a lot to me came in the fall of 1994 when our football team had a memorable season. We started the season 0-3 before ripping off nine straight wins to reach the state championship. In the quarterfinals, we traveled to play Pleasant Grove, the defending 4A state champs. We trailed 13-7 with just over a minute to go in the game. On third or fourth down, our quarterback sent every receiver deep and tossed a bomb down the home sideline to my brother, who caught the ball as the PG defender fell down. Ryan raced 88 yards for the game-winning touchdown. After the game we shared a big hug and celebrated all the way home. It was one of the most magical moments I have ever been a part of.
When I campaigned for student body officer going into my senior year, my brother gave a nomination speech and was among the first to congratulate me when I won. He even persuaded my father to let me stay out late that night with my friends.
When our missions overlapped, we didn’t see each other for about 3 and a half years. He was in Norway and I was in Chile. Yet we exchanged letters often and swapped mission experiences. I really appreciated his encouragement, support and advice.
These experiences and memories became the foundation of a strong friendship and brotherhood that Ryan and I continue to enjoy today. One of my greatest wishes and dreams is for my boys to develop a similar lifelong bond of brotherhood. Joseph Smith referred to his brother with these profound and tender words: “I love him with that love that is stronger than death.” That’s what I hope for my boys as well.
One of the last photos we took at Temple Square that night was of the boys. It gives me hope that they will become best friends for life and beyond.