The other day something occurred to me that entirely changed my perspective on Christmas. It started with something a young friend of mine said. He said, “Christmas should mean everything the Savior means.” Now that’s a simple statement, but it has a profound meaning.
And then it occurred to me: If prayer is the hour of the day each day when we remember the Savior, and our church meetings is the hour of our weekly remembrance, well, then Christmas is the season of our yearly remembrance. Christmas is like a sacramental season in which we remember the Savior, and His love and sacrifice. So in that spirit, may I share this story?
As a young man, Jeff came from a childhood of affluence. For him, Christmas meant thousands of dollars worth of presents under the tree for the family. He loved to see Christmas’s like the one that he remembers where each child had fifteen presents under the tree.
Then, his life was turned upside down! When he was twelve, his parents divorced, and during that time, life became a struggle for survival. After three years, his mother remarried a man whose wealth was great, but – but not in money – in faith and love. Added to Jeff and his four siblings were eight of Jack’s children. Mom’s budget for their first Christmas was $130.00 – $10.00 for each of thirteen children.
Well, that was an adjustment. Jeff was angry. That was unreal only $10 worth of gifts? Ha, this was not a real Christmas!
And then, something happened again. On Christmas Eve, all the family loaded up in an old used bus to go caroling. One of their stops that night was a place called Paradise Ranch. As Jeff and his family were a model of having not, the Raymond’s were a model of having – private golf course, three private lakes with private fishing and boating. They had much. It was indeed a paradise!
Well, Jeff and his family’s joyous caroling interrupted the Raymond’s Christmas party. And so the Raymond’s and their guests came outside on the deck, and listened to the family’s caroling. But you know, no one can listen very long to a Christmas carol without joining in. Soon they were all singing. And then it wasn’t long before something as holy as Christmas itself descended upon that little gathering. Mrs. Raymond began to cry, and soon each of them was in tears.
As Jeff and his family began to sing “Silent Night, Holy Night,” Mrs. Raymond reached up and took down a very expensive wreath, and she hung it around Jeff’s neck.
A change came over that young man at that point that has lasted from that day to this. Christmas was no longer the price of the gifts. It was the spirit of love and giving. There was a dawn of redeeming grace within him.
Now, today, many years later, and [with] travels all over the world, Jeff and his family still have and still cherish that wreath. It has become a symbol of the love, and the sacrifice and the sharing that is Christmas.
May it be so with you, Merry Christmas!
Adapted from an experience by Jeffery Clark Bettinger. Compiled Glenn Rawson