“Of Good Report,” Ensign, Dec. 1994, 69
A Christmas of Hope
There were two days before the ward Christmas party. One of the visiting teachers in our ward was out delivering Christmas cookies. In one home, she noticed a single present under the Christmas tree. The mother broke down crying as she discussed holiday plans with her visiting teacher.
“That present was made for me by my son, and it’s the only present we’ll have this year,” she sobbed. “My husband’s business isn’t going well. We have no money for gifts or treats. I don’t know what to do.”
Concerned, the visiting teacher gave what comfort she could, then left. As soon as she got home, she explained the family’s plight to the Relief Society president, who called the bishop.
Within a few hours, a plan had developed. On the night of the ward party, there was a Christmas tree decorated with yellow glittering paper stars. After explaining to all those gathered that there was a family in the area struggling financially, the bishop continued, “If you would like to help, take a star off the tree. Each star has a needed item or possible gift for one of the five children in the home. Purchase the item, wrap it, and reattach the star. Then bring the wrapped gift to my home within the next two days.”
As the dinner was being served, people reached for the stars. Several people took two and even three of the shining pieces of paper.
During the next two days, many beautifully wrapped gifts were taken to the bishop’s home. One man had selected only one star, but brought three packages. “I bought the designated item then purchased two more things I thought this little boy might like,” he said. “I had so much fun. It really made Christmas for me.”
The bishop invited the father of the family to come to his home on Christmas Eve. As the father stepped into the room containing the gifts, he was overwhelmed by the many multicolored packages. Sitting in one chair were four unwrapped handmade dolls for the three little girls. “I almost kept one of those dolls for my own family because they were so pretty,” the bishop remarked. “But slip that extra one under the tree for your wife so she can have it.”
That Christmas was one to remember. The children rejoiced at their gifts; the parents rejoiced at the love and unselfishness of their ward family. Although the family moved out of our ward a few months later, I have never forgotten that Christmas that we banded together as a ward and reached out to our brothers and sisters.—Joy Marchant Gatherum, Salt Lake City
Our ward recently decided that we wanted to learn the names of all the Primary children in our ward. We wanted our young people to know that they had a ward family they could count on and that they were important to us.
We started by having the Primary teachers hang large name tags on the children before their classes were dismissed. That way, as we went into sacrament meeting, we could start associating names with faces. In addition, each week a family with young children stood in front of the congregation during the opening song and announcements. We began to identify the children with the families to which they belonged.
After three months of this, we held a ward activity. With the invitation to the activity, we sent a list of all the Primary children in our ward so that adults could review the names.
The night of the ward activity, we planned several games that would help adults remember the names of the children, including hanging the silhouette of each child on the wall so that adults could guess who was who. We all ate together, not divided up into families or neighbors. For the last activity of the night, we had each Primary class sing its class song on the stage. While the children were singing, the adults wrote down the names of every child in the class.
Happily, about ten people had learned all of the children’s names. Almost everyone had learned more than half. We feel that calling our children by their first names can illustrate our love and concern, letting our young people know that they have a ward family they can count on.—Joanne Pratt, Bountiful, Utah