“Who Will Be the Present?” Liahona, Dec. 2010, 41
In 1982, the second Christmas after we were married, Cleto and I decided to establish family traditions. Because we were the first members of the Church in our families, our former Christmas celebrations—though they brought us happy memories—lacked genuine compassion and service. Moreover, our first baby, eight-month-old Diego, was reason enough to improve ourselves in this way.
We were quite busy with university studies, household chores, Church callings, and our crash course in first-time parenthood, but we still devoted ourselves to preparing for a special occasion. We used each family home evening in December to make decorations and to come to a better understanding of the symbols and colors we saw everywhere. We also planned on preparing a simple dinner, and we thought up useful and inexpensive gifts. As we undertook a scripture study program, we realized that the true change in our manner of celebrating Christ’s birth would involve choosing a gift for the Savior.
We wondered, “What do you give someone who has heaven and earth at His disposal?” The scriptures provide the answer, declaring that anything we do “unto one of the least of these” (Matthew 25:40) we do unto Him. Because Christmas is a season of friendship and a time of love, we wanted to invite a member of the Church to experience the warmth and sweet spirit we felt in our home. We looked hard to find someone who needed some cheering up and whom helping could be our Christmas present to the Savior.
Each time we invited a ward or stake brother or sister to our home, we were happy to discover that the person was already involved in other activities. But Christmas Eve soon arrived, and we still had not found someone with whom to share our Christmas.
Resigned to our failure, we were getting ready for dinner when the doorbell rang. When I opened the door, I was elated to find a friend we had not seen for some time. Avelar had recently gone through the disappointment of an upsetting separation. He was sad and alone and had felt a strong desire to be with us.
We received Avelar with love, and he told us that he had found the environment he needed to be consoled in the midst of his trials. We told him of our preparations to serve and help someone in need so that he could recognize the Lord knew him and loved him.
For all of us, it was wonderful to realize that the Savior had sent us someone we could not find: our friend Avelar. We realized the overriding importance of relationships among Heavenly Father’s sons and daughters. For that reason, on subsequent Christmases we and our three children always remember that the purpose of the season is to strengthen bonds of unity, love, and friendship.