One year, about three days before a childhood Christmas, my husband, Rob, discovered two of his older sisters in their bedroom secretly unwrapping two of their Christmas presents. Then, after they had peeked inside, his sisters rewrapped their gifts. Rob’s sisters told him, “If you don’t tell Mom, we’ll show you how to do it.”
He ultimately gave in to the temptation, especially since there was a basketball-sized package under the Christmas tree with his name on it.
However, the gift felt oddly light when he secretly carried it up to his bedroom. He carefully opened it and found it empty, except for a note. The note read, “I know what you’re doing. Don’t spoil your Christmas. Love, Mom.” He learned his lesson, and that was the end of the great Christmas-gift-peeking caper.
Consider your memories, the beautiful sights, the angelic sounds, and the unforgettable smells that come to mind when you think of Christmas. Even more tender are the memories many of us carry in our hearts from childhood of the holiness of Christmas—the celebration of our Savior’s birth. Those sacred feelings never leave us.
We feel them every time we reflect on that little Bethlehem manger where so many prophecies, over centuries, all came together under a starry night sky—when our Savior and Redeemer was brought into the world as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
We often hear that Christmas is for children, but aren’t we all children at heart? One day a mother and her nine-year-old daughter were busily Christmas shopping. As they rushed through a department store jewelry section, the daughter noticed an enormous banner hanging over a display case. In large red letters, the banner proclaimed, “The Gift That Never Stops Giving.”
The daughter read the sign, contemplated it for a moment, and then smiled. She proudly told her mother, “Mom, I know what the gift is that never stops giving.”
“Oh, what?” her mother asked as they quickly moved through the crowd.
The daughter innocently announced, “It’s Jesus!”
Her mother erroneously responded, “No, Sweetheart. It’s diamonds.”
Isaiah reminds us, “And a little child shall lead them.”1
Using one internet search engine, I found thousands of items advertised with the phrase “The gift that never stops giving.” Yet try as we may, no material gift that we give will last forever.
In contrast, let me share with you one of my tender Christmas memories of two individuals who, I believe, never stopped giving. They were my parents, Aldo and Eleanor Harmon.
It was a snowy winter in our little town that year, but that didn’t stop my dad from taking our family to search for the perfect Christmas tree. Once the tree was home and secured in the tree stand, the bubble lights, angel ornaments, and tinsel were lovingly placed on the boughs. Our humble home was officially ready for Christmas to begin.
The toy catalogs arrived in the mail, and my siblings and I excitedly turned the pages wishing for Christmas treasures. The scent of gingerbread and fruitcake filled our home, and December slowly inched away on the advent calendar. We left surprises on the doorsteps of neighbors and tried to serve families who were in need of a bit of Christmas cheer.
Each night, after I went to bed, my mother spent an excessive amount of time secluded in her bedroom. All I could hear was the sound of her sewing machine. She sewed so much of our clothing anyway that I didn’t think much about it.
But as Christmas neared, my mother was completely exhausted. She was sick in bed the day before Christmas. When the doctor told my father that she would have to stay in bed for at least a week, I was worried—but also very disappointed. How could Christmas go on without Mom? How could it even feel like Christmas? And besides, who would cook Christmas dinner?
As my father lovingly cared for my mother, he realized the task of cooking Christmas dinner fell upon him. Again, I was worried! Though a very wise and gifted man, cooking was not something he had mastered.
Christmas Eve found me on my knees praying that my mother would be miraculously healed and that Christmas morning would be as it had always been—our family gathered around the Christmas tree. Disappointment washed over us Christmas morning as we found our dear mother still very sick in bed. As we opened our gifts, I was surprised to find that my special present was an assortment of handmade doll clothing that my mother had been sewing for me during those many late nights of December. I couldn’t wait to run to her and throw my arms around her neck. How she had sacrificed for me.
Dear Daddy tried every way possible to make Christmas Day feel normal that year, as normal as it could be without Mom. And he succeeded. After our simple dinner, my sweet dad fell asleep in the chair next to the fireplace as I played with my siblings and my doll and her new clothes. My dearest mother recovered after much rest, and all was well. But in my life, my parents were to me a gift that never stopped giving.
Let’s consider that phrase for a moment. Wouldn’t a gift that never stops giving be considered a perfect gift? First, a perfect gift would reveal something about the giver of the gift. Second, it would reflect something about the needs of the person receiving the gift. And finally, the gift, if it was really the perfect gift, would hold its value not just as time goes on but forever.
Doesn’t our beloved Savior, even the Savior of the world, meet these three requirements? Does the gift of Jesus Christ’s birth, ministry, and atoning sacrifice reveal something about the Giver of the gift? Of course. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son.”2 Our Father in Heaven sacrificed His Son out of pure love for us, His children.
Does the gift of Jesus Christ demonstrate that our Heavenly Father knew exactly what we needed? Again, an emphatic yes! We are fallen by nature, and we desperately need a Savior and Redeemer. As Nephi taught, Jesus Christ “doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world.”3
And the final requirement for the perfect gift? It must hold its value forever. The Book of Mormon clearly teaches us that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is infinite and eternal.4
Remember the jewelry department banner? That young girl knew intuitively what the true gift is. In this darkened world, we look beyond jewels to the Light of the World. The Savior Himself taught:
“Therefore, hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up.”5
“I am the light which shineth in darkness.”6
I testify that Jesus Christ is the perfect gift—the gift that never stops giving. May we all hold that truth in our hearts this Christmas and forever. He lives. In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.