The Wondrous Gift
By President Spencer W. Kimball
Christmastime is a glorious time of happy friendliness and unselfish sacrifice; a time of increased hospitality, devotion, and time; a time of the subduing of selfish impulses; a time of renewing friendships, cementing loosening ties, and the swelling of the heart. It transcends the individual, the family, the community, the nation; it approaches the universal, crosses borders, and touches many nations of the earth. Our caroling voices sing the sweet songs of Christmas reminiscent somewhat of the host of heavenly angelic voices in the long ago, praising God and saying: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."
We set up the evergreen tree with its gleaming, brightly colored lights; we hang wreaths and bells; and we light candles-all to remind us of that wondrous gift, the coming of our Lord into the world of mortality.
We send Christmas cards to numerous friends and relatives, pulling back into happy memories the loved ones who have moved out of our immediate association. Like the wise men who opened their treasury and presented to Jesus gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh, we present to our loved ones things to eat and wear and enjoy.
Though we make an effort to follow the pattern of gift giving, sometimes our program becomes an exchange - gift given for gift expected. Never did the Savior give in expectation. I know of no case in his life in which there was an exchange. He was always the giver, seldom the recipient. Never did he give shoes, hose, or a vehicle; never did he give perfume, a shirt, or a fur wrap. His gifts were of such a nature that the recipient could hardly exchange or return the value. His gifts were rare ones: eyes to the blind, ears to the deaf, and legs to the lame; cleanliness to the unclean, wholeness to the infirm, and breath to the lifeless. His gifts were opportunity to the down-trodden, freedom to the oppressed, light in the darkness, forgiveness to the repentant, hope to the despairing. His friends gave him shelter, food, and love. He gave them of himself, his love, his service, his life. The wise men brought him gold and frankincense. He gave them and all their fellow mortals resurrection, salvation, and eternal life. We should strive to give as he gave. To give of oneself is a holy gift.
Keeping Christ in Christmas
http://lds.org - Ensign 2006 December; Questions & Answers
In our home there is a box. It is not a terribly large box, and it certainly isn’t an expensive box. However, it is nicely presented and is the most priceless box we own. Why? Because of our family’s simple tradition centered around that humble box.
On Christmas Eve, just before tucking everyone into bed, we gather around our box with pen and paper. We have spent the past several family home evenings preparing for this moment. After a prayer, we each write down our intended gift to the Savior. Respectfully, we fold up our papers and place them into the box. No one reads them, and no one tells of their gift. It is a personal and sacred promise. When everyone is through, we close up the box and put it in a special place under the tree.
This simple box with its contents becomes our first gift of the season, and it goes to the One who gave us everything!
Yvette T. Joyner, England
I love advent calendars and watching the anticipation of my children as we count down the days until Christmas. I wanted the focus of our countdown to be more spiritual, though. I came up with the idea of wrapping inexpensive treats, one for each of the 12 days before Christmas. I labeled each one with a scripture reference describing a gift Heavenly Father has given us.
Every night for family scripture time, we have a child select one of these wrapped presents. We read the scripture references on the package and bear our testimonies of that gift in our lives. The 12 gifts I chose the first year were the Creation, agency, prayer, opposition, charity, scriptures and revelation, prophets, the Holy Ghost, eternal life and exaltation, the Resurrection, families, and Christ’s Atonement. After family prayer, our children open the present and share the treat inside.
The excitement of counting down the days until Christmas is still there, but it is tempered by reverence and appreciation for the great gifts we have already received from a loving Heavenly Father. Each year we select different gifts to focus on, but always we end on Christmas Eve with the gift of our Savior’s life and Atonement.
Aleta Clegg, Utah