Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Year in Review 2013

We had another great year together. Highlights included Brent and Rita’s 20th wedding anniversary, family trips to Canada and St. George, and camping at Lava Hot Springs and Jordanelle Reservoir.

Brent completed his fifth year working at Control4. He coached Todd’s and Alec’s basketball teams and serves as a Webelos Cub leader. He took fishing trips to the Uintas, the Green River and the San Juan River (New Mexico). He ran four marathons this year, including his tenth St. George.

Rita works as a school psychologist for Davis School District and as a mental health counselor at the Neuropsychology Center of Utah. She took a trip with friends to Greece. She went to Girls’ camp as an assistant director and serves as a Bear Cub leader.

Todd turned 17 and is in 11th grade at Northridge High. His favorite class is Racquet Sports. He received his Eagle award and played city-league basketball and baseball. He was an assistant coach for Alec’s basketball team. He played the djembe drum at performances in Ogden and Salt Lake. He enjoys playing sports and video games.

Kenna turned 13 and is in 8th grade at North Layton Junior High. She gets good grades and sings in the school choir. She went to Girls’ camp and was asked to speak at Young Women in Excellence. She raised a goat and took third place in the 4-H Goat competition at the Davis County Fair. She enjoys playing computer games, listening to music, and tackling all sorts of craft, cooking, and home projects.

Alec turned 8 and is in 3rd grade at Kaysville Elementary, where Rita works. He was baptized by Todd. He played in the State Elementary Chess Tournament and played city-league baseball and basketball. With Kenna’s help, he raised a goat and competed in the 4-H Goat competition at the Davis County Fair. He enjoys sports, school, and collecting basketball cards.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas: The Unrealistic Ideal

Over the past five or ten years I've noticed myself liking Christmas less and less. In the past there have been two main causes behind my waning affection for the holiday: its seemingly infinite commercialism and its overshadowing of the equally-worthy holiday of Thanksgiving. I could write several long posts on these two evils, but I want to focus this post on a more recent cause of my disinterest in Christmas: rampant idealization.

I can hardly think of anything in our society that is held in such high esteem as Christmas. Most people love Christmas and go out of their way to show it, putting a tree in the most noticeable room of the house with lights outside announcing their affection for the holiday. Christmas stories talk of the wonder and excitement of the season. Every Christmas movie has a happy ending with Christmas bells and laughter. The Andy Williams song says that "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year". The blind worship of Christmas seems to have no limit.

But is it really the most wonderful time of the year? I think in our imagination it is, but reality is never so simply. Parts of it are wonderful and parts of it aren't. Some years are great and others aren't. To idealize Christmas is a bit naive.

Take this year for example. As usual, we opened presents on Christmas Morning, ate a nice breakfast, had a relaxing afternoon nap, and then...that was it. Weeks of trying to think of the right gifts--shopping ahead of time, making sure the stocking-stuffers were all acquired, trying not to over- or underspend--resulted in a fun morning. Nothing to complain about, but at the same time it was no scene out of a TV Christmas special, no Peace on Earth. By mid-afternoon we were cleaning the house, doing dishes and laundry. I wasn't completely over my flu from earlier in the week and Rita was fighting a headache. In the evening we received a phone call from a family member with a small crisis. Rita had to make an emergency trip out of town. Her Facebook post for the day was "bah, humbug." I think it reflected her low mood after an emotional effort to make Christmas unrealistically special.

To not like Christmas is a serious social sin. We make movies about those that don't like Christmas and then apply the names of the main characters as derogatory terms. But movies about Christmas, and often even our own memories, don't reflect reality. The realities of life don't go on holiday, and often there is simply nothing magical about Christmas. And that's fine. Just because every gift isn't a big hit doesn't mean the other ones aren't memorable. The problem comes when we set our expectations too high. As humans we naturally tend to filter out bad memories and dwell on the good ones. That's great when we recall Christmas Past, but terrible when we set expectations for Christmas Present. If our ideals call for every year to be the best Christmas ever, we will eventually be met with disappointment.

So call me a Grinch or a Scrooge if you must, but expecting every Christmas memory to be magical would just be setting myself up for disappointment.

Friday, August 9, 2013

4-H and Davis County Fair Time!

 My name is Kenna Zimmerman. This is my third year and my brother, Alec’s, first year participating in the Davis County 4-H Youth Livestock program. We are raising Boer goats that we will show at the Davis County Fair later this month. We are asking you to play a part in our experience by making a tax-deductible donation to sponsor our efforts. Your generosity will be recognized at the 4-H show on a list of business and individual sponsors.

 We will use sponsor funds to cover the cost of the goats and their food. Any additional money will be reserved for future 4-H projects, college savings, a charitable donation to Africa Heartwood Project’s Refugee Orphanage (, and spending money.

If you are able to contribute, a recommended donation is $20 - $100, but any amount is greatly appreciated. Please make checks payable to Davis County Jr. Livestock and send them to our home in care of Kenna and Alec Zimmerman 1617 North 350 East Layton, UT 84041

The funds aren’t due until September 30th but please let me know via email ( or phone (801-773-4162) how much you can pledge before August 14, 2013.  

 If you have any questions, you can email, call, or text my mom, Rita Zimmerman.  801-773-4162 home  OR  801-791-3253 cell

 Thank you so much!!

Kenna and Alec Zimmerman



Sunday, November 25, 2012


Over the weekend Todd, Kenna, and I watched a documentary called Happy. As the name implies, it's a movie about happiness. It documents the recent findings by psychologists about what makes us happy.

Psychologists have studied depression for decades--diagnosing, measuring, and treating it--but it hasn't been until recently that they've started to study happiness. Their findings are fascinating.

The first thing that I found interesting is the fact that only 10% of your happiness is determined by your life events or situation. At the same time, 40% is determined by your decisions. That means that it's four times more important that you make good decision than that good things happen to you. The remaining 50% is determined by your genetics.

It won't surprise you that the decisions that bring you lasting happiness don't involve earning more money, grooming your image, or improving your social status. Those things do give you measurable happiness, but it lasts a very short time. Lasting happiness only comes from things that give you a sense of purpose or mastery.

The movie shows several activities that have been shown to increase happiness. They include meditation, interaction with family or close friends, exercise, acts of compassion, keeping a gratitude journal, and devotion to a higher purpose. These are all simple activities that anyone can do. Also, they are almost all activities that are promoted by organized religion. In other words, religions have known for eons what psychologists are just now discovering.

What I took away from the movie is that I need to treat exercise and keeping a journal more seriously. I need to also encourage my kids to do these activities.