Sunday, December 27, 2015

Christmas - Come and Gone

I love Christmas! I love everything about it - the planning, the shopping for gifts for everyone in the family. What fun I would have if I had unlimited resources to buy for everyone! We watched a cute movie on the BYU Channel the other night - the Christmas Angel. We talked about how incredible it would be to go around helping people anonymously - paying for missed house payments, medical bills, helping with whatever needs they had. I'd love to play Santa Claus every day of the year.

I love the Christmas carols - the traditional songs. I don't like the crazy songs - Gramma and the reindeer, missing teeth, etc. I could play Christmas music all year. Who doesn't love the Hallelujah Chorus and Carol of the Bells and Silver Bells and the beautiful hymns we get to sing on Sunday in church!

I love setting up my nativity sets at the Creche Festival showing how different countries celebrate Christmas with their version of the nativity. Then bringing them home and decorating my house with them - book shelves, end tables, coffee table - every flat surface gets a nativity set.  I'm so grateful to my international traveling kids who bring me back beautiful depictions of the birth of the Christ child from nations across the world.

I love my blue and silver Christmas tree. There is such peace sitting in the soft glow of lights and pondering the magnificent gift our loving Father sent in his Beloved Son to live and die for us. What a miracle in our lives that is!

I love making mounds of caramel corn, then delivering it to neighbors and friends to tell them we are thinking of them at Christmas. I love receiving Christmas cards from friends scattered across the world and reliving so many fond memories of our times together. I don't even mind writing in all those cards!!

I love planning special music for sacrament meetings in December to help everyone remember the meaning of Christmas. What power there is in music to bring the Spirit to a meeting! The messages seem so much more uplifting at this time of year.

And I love the day after Christmas when all the kids and grand kids have gone home and the house is quiet once again. The chaos is over. Wrapping paper and boxes are put away for another year. Peace and order are restored. We can sit quietly and bask in the glow of loving family, a loving Father in Heaven and our Savior who makes all this happiness possible.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Finding the Joy in Christmas

This time of year I find myself reflecting on the events leading up to the birth of our Savior. I read passages from the New Testament that share what transpired. I marvel at the great faith that Mary and Joseph exhibited. In my mind I picture the shepherds and their reaction to the appearance of an angel who told them about the birth of Jesus Christ. Their initial reaction was fear, which gradually transformed to great joy as they sought out the tiny Christ Child.

Wise men faithfully watched for a predicted sign, and then led by the Spirit and a marvelous star, they journeyed to bring gifts and to show their devotion to their Savior.

As I reread about these sacred events, I ponder how I would have reacted. Would I have had the courage and faith to be with the shepherds and wisemen, or would I have blocked my heart to the spirit of the time? Would I have rationalized away the great miracle and gone on with my daily tasks, oblivious to what was taking place?

Fast forward a "few" (okay, over 2000) years to our day. There are still shepherds and wise men among us who daily worship our Savior. They are the ones who bravely stand up for all that is right and good in this world. They are the ones who reach out to help those who are struggling or less fortunate. Through their acts of kindness they are showing their devotion to Jesus Christ. In following His example, they are reflecting a way of life that will bring true happiness and eternal joy.

So during this busy/crazy time of year when we're all rushing about preparing for the Christmas season, may we each take a moment to ponder what we're really celebrating. Reflect on the numerous ways our lives are blessed by the birth of our Elder Brother. Do those things that help us capture the true spirit of the season. Reach out to those around you who may be struggling. Offer a smile or a thoughtful word to someone who may need it. Be kinder and more patient with those who cause frustration. Keep in mind that most of us are on the same path, trying to find our way. Instead of pushing and shoving as we hurry forward, take the time to aid those whose footsteps falter. In short, the best gifts we can give to Jesus will be those that come from the heart. As we reach out to the people around us, we are reaching out to our Savior. (See Matthew 25:34-40)