“Linda’s Last Christmas,” Liahona, Dec. 2011, 41
During my sophomore year at Brigham Young University, our ward bishopric signed the ward up for a Sub-for-Santa program, through which we would provide Christmas presents for a family in need.
Our ward name, however, kept disappearing from the list of volunteers. As Christmas neared, we still had no family to help. Then one of the bishop’s counselors told us of a family that might be able to use our help instead. When we learned about this family, we all felt certain that we should focus on them.
Linda (name has been changed), who had several sons ages 9 to 15, had fought a grueling battle with breast cancer. During the stress of that illness, her husband had left her. She had just moved from another state to take a job in Provo, Utah, but the job fell through, and she was left with no income.
When we met Linda, we immediately took her into our hearts. We were blessed to see her the way the Savior did—as a great and noble spirit who had overcome many difficult challenges. She was never a project to us; rather, she was an eternal friend. Every member of the ward contributed something to help her and her boys. We were all young college students and poor in our own right, but we gladly gave because we loved her.
Linda came to our ward Christmas party, during which several ward members went to her apartment and filled her cupboards and refrigerator with food. They decorated a Christmas tree and surrounded it with presents for the whole family. They also left her four new car tires and paid her rent for several months. I’m not sure how our meager contributions managed to accomplish all that, but I knew that Heavenly Father had used our sacrifices to bless her.
A year later I was in another student ward, but I returned at Christmastime to visit my previous bishopric. I learned that Linda’s husband had returned to the family and that their finances had stabilized. But then her cancer had returned and claimed her life. I realized that we had helped give Linda her last Christmas.
In feeling “the pure love of Christ” (Moroni 7:47) so strongly through that experience, I learned that real charity is a priceless spiritual gift that propels us to act in the Savior’s place.