No friends I have not gotten off of my sugar fast…what I am referring to is a talk by President Hinckley years ago that has always stuck with me. It was given at the annual First Presidency Christmas Devotional in 1998 entitled The Testimony of Jesus. In the talk he spoke about the festive time of the year and how it commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ. At the time Hurricane Mitch had just happened and President Hinckley had been to visit the ravished Honduras people and check on church humanitarian services being performed to help them.
As he describes the devastation he mentioned a little girl he met who had been rescued from the rafters of a flooded home. About meeting her President Hinckley said:
“They now have beans and rice, powdered milk and cooking oil. That will sustain life but it is not very tasty. I would hope that at this Christmas season, when there will be no gift‐giving among these devastated people, this small orphan girl might receive perhaps a little taste of candy, something sweet and delicious. I must and will see that that happens.”
Evidently after the story the church humanitarian department was flooded with more candy than they could handle! The reason why this quote has stayed with me all these years is I think it is easy to only stretch so far in serving others, to feel that giving more would be excessive and unnecessary. Certainly if there are rules for a particular organization or project we need to stay with them but if not, we should try to stretch a little out of our comfort zone to help someone. (I have a 1 up rule in life. Meaning if I feel I can serve 1 person I will try to serve 2, if I can do nothing I will do 1 etc).
I like this quote at Christmas because as I’m picking out presents it is easy to think- what is the most sensible gift I could get this person? When really sometimes they need something a little sweet and delicious, something to brighten their day.
I used to have a debate with my Dad about the essential vs. non-essential aspects of our society. There are many things that are frivolous nowdays but also many that while not technically essential provide a breadth and happiness to our life, which make it sweet and happy. For instance, music may not be a requirement for sustenance and human survival but I can not imagine being happy without it.
I hope the next example I will use will be taken in the way I intend. For years I was involved in Sub 4 Santa’s for various organizations. Literally from high school to my mission I was a leader in gathering presents, trees and food for families in need. I always found it very rewarding and particularly in college when we delivered the gifts it brought the spirit of Christmas deeply into my heart.
A couple of years ago I was shopping with a group from my ward for our secret santa and I became very frustrated.The gifts being purchased seemed tacky and cheap. Not something that would last or be special at all. I’m not denying the good intentions of the gift-givers but I knew we had more money in the budget to spend and even if we didn’t why buy junk that won’t last? I left the whole process feeling depressed and cress-fallen. I couldn’t get the image out of my head of 3 little kids that would wake up with plastic, throw away toys and clothes poorly made. Anyway, it has always stayed with me that if you are going to give then look for items that will truly create joy- not that this has to cost a lot of money.
Like President Hinckley says, “It is His influence in our lives that stirs within us a little more of kindness, a little more of respect, a little more of love, a little more of concern. It is because of Him, and His teachings, that we reach out to those in trouble, distress, and need wherever they may be.”
There have been years I have done big projects like Sub 4 Santa’s and the Festival of Trees and other’s where I found 1 person to secret santa for (this year my friend and I did 2 girls, so fun!). Whatever it might be it is a stretch for that year, at that time and I’m always blessed as a result.
This Christmas I hope you can each think of ways to serve and bring sweetness into the lives of those around you. Like President Hinckley can we all be the person who will recognize the needs and desires of our loved one’s and then ‘see that that happens’? Even if it is just with a smile, conversation, favorite dish made or an extra shoulder to lean on, you can change the hum drum into something truly memorable. A few years ago I did a blog post on my Dad saying thanks and that meant a lot to him, so like I said it doesn’t have to cost money to be very meaningful. Its all about digging a little deeper and filling a happiness void in our loved one’s lives. That sensation is Christmas to me!
What’s the best gift you have ever received or given?