I was thinking this morning that Christmas is such a wonderful way to mark time. My mind wandered back to Christmases past. I thought of many years ago when I was a little girl and my first Christmas as a married woman. All of these memories are cherished and dear to me. I thought I’d share a few with you today.
Let’s start at a Christmas when I was about 6 or 7. I grew up in a really small town in Utah called Dugway. It is part of the military Proving Grounds. Let’s just say it takes at least 45 minutes (driving, because that’s how we Utahn’s measure how far away something is… Don’t ask me why) to get to an sort of civilization. Both sets of extended family lived about 90 minutes away in Utah County. So, this meant all of our holiday parties and even Christmas day was spent at our home away from home, my mother’s parent’s house. Every Christmas I would get the chance to pick out a gift for each of my sisters. This particular year though my two older sisters and I wanted to get our youngest sister (then about 2 or 3 years old) a little Winnie the Pooh toy. We found it at a store and immediately knew she would love it. We all helped my mother wrap it up and on Christmas morning I distinctly remember not caring what gifts I had received. We were all so excited to watch her open the present and see the joy on her face. My grandfather would sit under the tree and pass out the gifts to each of us. He made sure her present was the last of all. When it came time for her to tear into that wrapping paper I held my breath. I can’t describe to you the feeling I had when I saw her little face light up. She loved Winnie the Pooh and jumped up so excited! After we cleaned up the mess we opened it and all started playing with her. It was so amazing to realize the Spirit of Giving at such a young age.
Now onto my first Christmas being married. We had been married about 7 months and were excited to start our own Christmas traditions. We set up the tree on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, watched movies with popcorn and hot chocolate, and spent a lot of time scouring for the perfect gift to give each other. I had just recently discovered Pinterest. (If you were like me, you know how many hours you spent on this website just taking it all in). I learned how to sew when I was a teenager and wanted to start up again. Pinterest is great for inspiring us to be crafty. 🙂 So, I found a tutorial for an infinity dress that didn’t look too hard. I was super excited to try it out! The only problem was, NO SEWING MACHINE! How in the world are you supposed to sew a dress without a machine? I was bummed and wanted to give up. Here comes the best part… On Christmas morning I was opening my gifts and there was a small one and a large one. I had no idea what they were. I went for the little one first. Who doesn’t love opening a huge present last, am I right? However, my fun was thwarted because Andy told me I had to open the little one last. Reluctantly I pulled the first piece of wrapping paper off the big gift and lo and behold… A sewing machine!! I was ecstatic! He had planned it out and researched which one would be the best for a beginner/intermediate sewer and found the perfect one. I still use it today and it is wonderful! (Just in case you were wondering, the small gift was a pair of sewing scissors and he didn’t want to give it away that he got me a sewing machine so I opened them after).
Thinking back on these two experiences has brought a lot of insight to me today. If you compare them, one is about giving and one is about receiving. Mostly I want to emphasize the way you feel when you give a gift that you know someone will love and how you feel when you receive a gift from someone who has taken the time and effort to give you. Yes those feelings came from giving and receiving physical, temporal, gifts but you can receive the same feeling by thinking of Jesus Christ and the gift he gave each one of us. I watched a video made by the mormon.org called He Is The Gift and it brings to mind this exact concept.
This is really what Christmas is about. Our Heavenly Father giving us his only begotten Son as the first gift of Christmas. When you think about the Father’s perspective of giving his children the most precious gift he could you can feel the way I did when I was little and gave my sister that Winnie the Pooh toy. The feeling you get when you see someone open and use the gift is amazing. That is how Heavenly Father feels when we utilize the priceless gift of the Atonement. Sometimes we feel like we do not deserve the sacrifice that was made for us but in reality it was first a gift from our Father. He wants us to return and live with him and the only way we can is by repenting and truly letting Christ heal us.
If you compare my second experience of receiving the perfect gift, to Christ as our Savior giving us the gift of the Atonement, you realize how it feels when you utilize that gift yourself. The weight of sin is so heavy that when it gets lifted, even just a little bit, it is enough to realize how the Atonement really is the most priceless gift anyone could receive. As someone who is not perfect I rely on The Lord often and knowing that He is there for me no matter what brings so much peace and gratitude to my heart.
Words cannot explain how the Savior has changed my life for the better. This Christmas is the time to remember Christ. Remember that Heavenly Father gave us the perfect gift in giving us His Son, the first gift of Christmas. As you are searching for the gifts you will give your loved ones, please remember the gift Christ gave to us. The ultimate gift to bring us back to our Father. This is my wish for you this Christmas season.