Sunday, December 6, 2009

What Do You Want For Christmas? Part 1

Here we are all heading into "The Season" and hoping, as Christians, we can keep the balance we need to enjoy the customs and traditions of Christmas while keeping a constant remembrance of what it is all about. Some years this seems to work better for me than others.

Since we are leaving next week for Italy I have done a lot less this year. I am doing less of everything that normally takes my time because I LOVE doing it. I am not decorating or baking or sending Christmas cards, or doing a lot of shopping. What I have been doing is preparing a lesson for Church about Christmas.

As I have thought about Christmas, with real intent, I have learned some things about it I had never realized so deeply before. I love that when we actually set aside time to allow the spirit to teach us, exciting things happen. Some new things have actually come, by way of personal revelation, that I had never even considered before. It has been an exciting time. I love that when we are asked to build the kingdom of God through service we receive back so much more than we give... in personal knowledge and learning.

While thinking about Christmas it has occurred to me that the one question we hear around us the most is, "What Do You Want for Christmas?" I imagined that I was a news person and was standing on the street corner in Any Town, USA with my mic and cameraman and could interview the passers by. I would ask them this same question..."What do you want for Christmas?"

The children would say things like:

"I want a bright, shiny, new, red bike!"
"Santa is bringing me a pretty doll with all the things to go with her."
"I want some Tranformers and some action figures."
"I am asking Santa for a Webkins and the Video "Up" for Christmas."

The teens might ask for new clothes, an MP3 player, a cell phone or a TV in their room, a laptop or the new Harry Potter movie being released this week.

Adults passing by might ask for the outlandish~ like a million bucks, a mansion to replace their tract house, or a fancy new car. Others would wish for presents for their kids, a big trip to Paris , or new tools or jewels, or whatever strikes their fancy.

Some would be even more sophisticated in their wishes and desire world peace, or a second chance at a relationship that meant a lot to them, a great husband or a baby they have been longing for, or that their mother would be cancer free. Some would wish for the opportunity to be with all of their family in one place...this would make the perfect Christmas. Others would view a Christmas away from the family as the perfect gift! Some would wish for a job...just anything to support their family, as others longed for retirement and the time when they can finally do as they wish.

One thing would be clear from the interview on that street corner...everybody wants something. Everyone thinks that a certain something they don't already have will make them a little happier, a little more satisfied, a little more content and comfortable. We may reason that there is something out there that will fill that dark, empty hole within us and make us feel whole and satisfied again; wanting and needing nothing more at all.

Our church publishes a wonderful magazine each month called the Ensign. In it we have access to wonderful articles about Christ and His Gospel. In it this month is an article by Henry B. Eyring entitled Home for Christmas. You can Google it for the full text.

In the article he tells of revisiting his childhood home as an adult. When strangers opened the door and invited him in, he was able to walk through his old home that he so dearly loved. He immediately realized that is wasn't the house he loved so dearly, but the lives that were lived in it. In recalling his memories of Christmas in that home, it was not the place, but the family and his desire to be with them again, enveloped in the love and light of Christ that meant so much. Those were the gifts that made him truly happy, not the earthly things. Those were the spiritual gifts they shared in that little house, they were what he longed for the most of all.

That story is what started me thinking about what we all want most for Christmas. We believe that our spirits are eternal. We lived with our Heavenly Father before we came here. Since our Heavenly Father is perfect, I am pretty sure we all came from a perfect place where we felt love, acceptance, comfort, peace, and the enjoyment of all good things. We had all the things that made us feel whole and complete there.

Now that we live on earth, we are unable to remember the particulars of that pre-moral life, but perhaps we do remember on some level, the feelings of the peace and comfort of it. Just maybe the things we want and long for here on earth are, in a way, a longing for the return of that wonderful feeling of joy that we experienced there.

When we have that feeling that something is missing in our lives, maybe we are just missing our real home. And maybe the things the passerby were asking for for Christmas in the interview on that street corner, where simply earthly things they hoped would return that same feeling of our real home to their hearts. Once they have what they want, they feel they can know joy and peace in this life again.

Our Heavenly Home

We all know that the Savior gives a different kind of peace than the world gives. Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." John 14:27.

But we are mortals and it is natural for us to think as mortals. We know that the things of the world do not last, but they bring that momentary feeling of peace, comfort and enjoyment to us. They, in a very small way, may replicate that feeling of our real home where things were perfect and we didn't need anything more to make us feel better.

Think about what people want for Christmas. Do they not all fall into the categories of love, comfort, and the enjoyment of good things? Maybe the one word that could encompass all these things is ~ Peace?

When we give and receive gifts for Christmas, are we not just trying to make a person's sojourn on earth better, a little more joyful, a little more fun? No wonder we all like to give and receive gifts.

We are spiritual beings having an earthly experience and that experience is not always pleasant or easy. Giving of our gifts is one way we can help our fellow beings to be lifted and cheered. It is a good thing to give and to receive and both make us happy. The happiness of material things is fleeting and maybe what we are really searching for is the joy that only Christ and His Gospel can bring.

We are trying to celebrate Christmas through our traditions and customs and sometimes it is hard to see the spiritual connection. We can tend to spin out of control and lose the balance in our trying to do too much. We are then focusing more on the "doing of Christmas" rather then on pondering the promise and peace of it. It is easy to do unless we take time to remember.

Giving from the heart, beautiful music, study and prayer, and pondering the gifts of Jesus Christ during quiet moments each day really help. By putting Christ first in our lives everything else will fall into place as we plan and prepare for a blessed Christmas.

Click Older Post below to go to Part 2


Sally said...

That was absolutely beautiful! Thanks for making me cry at school! :)

Very uplifting!