It seems that each year, no matter how hard I try to simplify and plan ahead, I end up a bit like a chicken with its head cut off as I try to get ready for Christmas. My calendar always ends up more packed than I thought it would. My errands end up taking longer than I expected. And I always, always end up putting off the gift wrapping until too late (although I have started!).
In all of the craziness, it’s all too easy for me to forget what this season is all about. We are, of course, celebrating the birth of the Savior, Jesus Christ. I like to celebrate and remember His life and example as well. After all, His whole life was about love, about service, about sacrifice, about giving — about all which should be motivating me during this season and always.
Last week, the theme in our Sacrament Meeting (the weekly congregational meeting where we partake of bread and water, the sacrament, and where members of our congregations speak on an assigned topic) was, interestingly enough, forgiveness. I can’t recall a time in the past when the chosen theme at the holiday time was something like this. But it helped me reflect on the kinds of gifts that really are of most lasting value. And I remembered a quote that has long been a favorite of mine for this time of year (all quotes below come from this talk by President Howard W. Hunter). I shared it with my family last week for our scripture study, and wanted to share it here.
This Christmas, mend a quarrel. Seek out a forgotten friend. Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a letter. Give a soft answer. Encourage youth. Manifest your loyalty in word and deed. Keep a promise. Forgo a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Apologize. Try to understand. Examine your demands on others. Think first of someone else. Be kind. Be gentle. Laugh a little more. Express your gratitude. Welcome a stranger. Gladden the heart of a child. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth. Speak your love and then speak it again.
President Hunter also shared this:
Give to your enemy forgiveness,
To your opponent tolerance,
To your friend your heart,
To all men charity, for the hands that help
are holier than lips that pray,
To every child a good example,
and to yourself—respect.
While I’m frantically trying to wrap all of my presents, I am also working to do more to unwrap my heart — to be more kind, more patient, more loving, more compassionate, more forgiving.
What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would give Him a lamb,
If I were a Wise Man,
I would do my part,—
But what I can I give Him,
Give my heart.
I’ve included a video below that is a beautiful reminder of the power of forgiveness, featuring President James E. Faust’s last General Conference address before he passed away.
What quotes, stories, music, thoughts, or other things help you focus on the true meaning of Christmas?