“Who Needs Me at Christmas?” Ensign, Dec. 1980, 48
Next to the Christmas tree was not the girl’s bike I’d wanted, but a secondhand boy’s bike my father had repainted. Trying to hold back the tears, I thought, “At least I’ll be able to tell the kids at school that I got something ‘big.’” As a child I never quite got beyond shame and self to the true meaning of Christmas.
Later, as a teenager, I sang with a group, and Christmas was our busiest time. We sang at company parties, church parties, club parties—and I loved the glamour and the compliments. “This,” I told myself, “is the real meaning and feeling of Christmas.” I was wrong again.
Then one Christmas we decided to sing at the hospital. Each of us bought an inexpensive gift for a patient, and we sang privately to individuals who hadn’t had any visitors. While we were singing, one of us would give the gift to that person.
All the patients seemed responsive except Edgar. He was an old man with tension, fear, and anxiety in his face. He wouldn’t look at us at first, but after we sang a couple of songs, he started watching out of the corner of his eye. When I took the little present to him, he broke down and sobbed so hard his whole body shook. Then he said softly, “You’re the only friend I have.” None of us sang the rest of the song, only hummed it in very broken tones.
Christmas was never the same after that. I forgot all about the presents I never received or the places I never went. I still remember and try to re-create the feeling of peace I felt that year. And I would like to help my children understand the true meaning of Christmas, to know the joy I felt when a special child of God, sick, frightened, and alone, said, “You’re the only friend I have.” Karen F. Church, Orem, Utah