“Wind-up Monkeys for Christmas,” Ensign, Dec. 1983, 53–54
My most unforgettable Christmas was one spent in Korea in 1970. Each missionary’s family sent him a big Christmas box through the army mail. Christmas day came and everyone opened his box. Some got electric blankets, others got shoes and coats. But my box was different. My folks had divided my box in half. In one half were my favorite foods: salami, dill pickles, cheese and crackers. In the other half were four wind-up monkeys. All lined up they formed a band. One played the drums, one the guitar, one the trumpet, and one danced. Everyone laughed. “Why did your folks send you wind-up monkeys for Christmas?”
Why indeed? I knew, even if my parents hadn’t said why.
The next day my companion and I left for a train ride to Chun Ju, and we stood most of the way. When we arrived, we raced from the train station over a familiar trail for two miles to where four little Korean children lived in a tiny, two-room house. We told the father why we had come, and he called the children in. He said the missionaries had a surprise for them. Wonder filled their eyes, and tears filled ours, as they watched in amazement as the wind-up monkeys performed.
My parents had been thrilled as their son had been made a senior companion. They had read in his letters of how he had met a man who wanted to know more about the gospel. How that man had left his job as minister of another church because he didn’t believe he was teaching the people the truth. How he, his wife, and four children were living in poverty, struggling to make ends meet. How that family had accepted the gospel and been baptized, except for the two little ones who were too young. My parents had loved that family and had wanted to give them a present to let them know of their love.
They did. The little ones laughed and laughed at the monkeys. And their laughter was the greatest gift of all.