Recently I heard a friend complaining, “I feel guilty if I don’t buy presents for everyone and their brother. I think I am going to start boycotting presents beginning next year!”
I agree that Christmas has become commercialized and that the true reason we celebrate Christmas has been all but forgotten by the mainstream. Our need to give lavish gifts and gifts in excess has created a "gimmee, gimmee" society that is not in sync with the true meaning of “Christmas Spirit.” However, I think at the core giving gifts to the ones we love is a wonderful tradition when done meaningfully and without excess. I think we would be remiss not to acknowledge the many God-given gifts that we have been given and that endure all time. I also think it’s important to remember, as we share our love with others, the reason we do these things is in similitude of the ultimate gift that was given to us by our Heavenly Father. He sent us his Son.
This week’s talk was delivered during General Conference in April 1993 by President Thomas S. Monson and is simply entitled “Gifts”. Unfortunately, the audio has not been archived for this specific General Conference and therefore it is only available in text format. I could not pass it up. Please take the time to read it; I know you will benefit from it as much as I have.
This beautiful talk helps direct our thoughts to the gifts we’ve received from our Heavenly Father and reminds us that, as stated by President Harold B. Lee: “Life is God’s gift to man. What we do with our life is our gift to God.”
I want to wish a Merry Christmas to each of you. I pray that as you go about this week you will remember Christ in everything you do.
President David O. McKay would frequently suggest the need for us to turn from the hectic day-to-day schedule filled with letters to answer, calls to be made, people to see, meetings to attend, and take time to meditate, to ponder, and to reflect on the eternal truths and the sources of the joy and happiness which comprise each person’s quest.
When we do, the mundane, the mechanical, the repetitious patterns of our lives yield to the spiritual qualities, and we acquire a much-needed dimension which inspires our daily living. When I follow this counsel, thoughts of family, experiences with friends, and treasured memories of special days and quiet nights course through my mind and bring a sweet repose to my being.
The Christmas season, with its special meaning, inevitably prompts a tear, inspires a renewed commitment to God, and provides, borrowing the words from the lovely song “Calvary,” “rest to the weary and peace to the soul.”
I reflect on the contrasts of Christmas. The extravagant gifts, expensively packaged and professionally wrapped, reach their zenith in the famed commercial catalogs carrying the headline “For the person who has everything.” In one such reading I observed a four-thousand-square-foot home wrapped with a gigantic ribbon and comparable greeting card which said, “Merry Christmas.” Other items included diamond-studded clubs for the golfer, a Caribbean cruise for the traveler, and a luxury trip to the Swiss Alps for the adventurer. Such seemed to fit the theme of a Christmas cartoon which showed the Three Wise Men traveling to Bethlehem with gift boxes on their camels. One says, “Mark my words, Balthazar, we’re starting something with these gifts that’s going to get way out of hand!”
Then there is the remembered Christmas tale of O. Henry about a young husband and wife who lived in abject poverty yet who wanted to give one another a special gift. But they had nothing to give. Then the husband had a ray of inspiration: “I shall provide my dear wife a beautiful ornamental comb to adorn her magnificent long black hair.” The wife also received an idea: “I shall obtain a lovely chain for my husband’s prized watch which he values so highly.”
Christmas day came; the treasured gifts were exchanged. Then the surprise ending, so typical of O. Henry’s short stories: The wife had shorn her long hair and sold it to obtain funds to purchase the watch chain, only to discover that her husband had sold his watch, that he might purchase the comb to adorn her beautiful long hair, which now she did not have. 1 Go HERE for the rest of this article