So what Christmas do you remember most? I have a few that stand out in my mind—each for a different reason. Some of my favorite memories are . . .
1. The year I got a bike lock. I was about 14 at the time. My brother, Randy, had recently returned from his mission and was a poor student. But he had my name for Christmas and when I opened the gift it was a bike lock. I appreciated the gift, but my bike wasn’t working so it seemed like a gift I would have to save for a later day. Then he went downstairs and carried up a bike. It wasn’t a new bike, it was my old one, all fixed. Not having any money, but being a very good artist, Randy bartered with the Schwinn company to fix my bike in exchange for painting a Christmas scene on their store windows. I was so touched that he would work that hard to give me a gift that I have always remembered it.
2. The year I got photo albums. Along the same line, one year my husband gave me photo albums for Christmas. That is a gift I will always treasure, because he not only gave the albums, but he spent countless hours filling each page with pictures from our trips. It was truly a gift from the heart.
3. My first year in the mission field. I remember this Christmas mostly because I was so very lonely. I was serving in Esmeraldas, Ecuador at the time, which is a very poor town on the coast. It was very hot, very humid and very dirty. It was everything a Utah Christmas is not. It was also the first time I had been away from home for Christmas and I very much missed my family. The people were so poor that we did not eat with the families, and so for Christmas we were on our own. But my companion and I started singing Christmas carols wherever we went, on the bus, walking down the streets and on the front porch of the little house we used for a church building. We always were singing a Christmas song. That very simple act changed that Christmas for me from one of sheer loneliness to one where I felt the Christmas spirit very deeply. I will always be grateful for that memory.
4. My parents first year in Guatemala. My parents were called to serve in the Guatemalan temple and so moved there for three years. During their first year, I felt bad they would be away from everyone for Christmas so we decided to take Christmas to them. We arrived (myself, my husband, and all five of our children) late Christmas Eve and spent the next several hours wrapping presents for my parents. In the morning we all watched while they un-wrapped the gifts we brought. We also had collected clothes from the people in our stake and took down several suitcases filled with clothes for needy families. So part of our day was spent sorting through those and planning ways to distribute them. It was a Christmas I think we will all remember as it was totally focused on serving others.
5. Last year. In many ways, last year was the Christmas that wasn’t—at least in a traditional sense. My son, who had recently married, was in Utah with his bride, and I was in Colorado with my daughter who had just given birth to our first grandchild. My husband was home with our three younger daughters. I missed the Christmas Eve party at my house and being awakened early in the morning by kids eager to open their gifts. However, as I held that dear sweet baby in my arms for the first time and celebrated her birth, I felt very close to a young mother many years ago, who held her first child in her arms on that very first Christmas morning. And my heart rejoiced with her.
While reflecting over my past Christmases, I find it interesting that the most memorable gifts were not those that cost the most, or the abundance, but rather those that came wrapped in love. And the Christmas memories I hold most dear are the ones whre Christmas was the most simple.
Just a thought. . .for your journey