Monday, December 22, 2008

The Best Gift

Several years ago our bishop at the time, gave each family in our ward a small, beautiful white stocking. He explained that he would like us to think about a special gift that we could give to the Savior during the coming year. It could be items like having more faith, being more patient or kind with those around us, etc.---gifts that would indicate we're striving to be more Christ-like.

Each year since that time, our family has kept this tradition. On Christmas Eve, we bring out the white stocking and empty its contents on the table, giving each family member the piece of paper that bears their name. Then we spend a few moments in silence, pondering the past year. We take a mental inventory, considering if we succeeded in giving this gift to the Savior.

Fresh slips of paper are then passed around. We spend another few minutes deciding on what our Christmas gift to the Savior will be during the next year. Writing it down, we then fold our pieces of paper, write our names on the outside, and set it inside the white stocking. The white stocking is then placed inside of my china cabinet where it can be seen all year. It is a reminder of what we have offered to our beloved Elder Brother.

I love this tradition. It helps me keep a perspective of what is really important. What we are offering are gifts of the heart, items that can never be purchased, wrapped, and placed under the tree. These are gifts of compassion and faith, presented with love to Someone we can never fully repay for the sacred gifts He has freely given to us all. I don't think any of us can quite comprehend what He has made possible. His gift of love paves the way for us to inherit eternal life if we so choose. His sacrifice atones for our mistakes if we will humbly submit to His will. The price we pay is so small in comparison to what He endured on our behalf. It is my hope that this Christmas season as we bustle around with last minute preparations for the days ahead, we will spend some time thinking about the reason for the season. That we will remember the humble way our Savior entered this mortal realm---a reminder that it is truly the simply things in life that matter most.

Here is a poem I wrote a few years ago that hopefully captures what I'm trying to say in today's blog:

Ode to Christmas ‘95

‘Twas the month of December and all through the house,

I continuously cleaned up after my sons and my spouse--
In preparation for celebrations ahead,

Various activities I was beginning to dread.

First on my list, decorate the tree,

After assembling it from a box filled with debris.
Finally the tree was in its place, limbs attached with loving care,
We pushed it into a corner to hide a hole that looked quite bare.

Then my husband cringed—it was time to string the lights,

This is an adventure that never quite delights.
A tangled mess from last year; we stared with great dismay
Wishing we could throw the jumbled strands away.

Instead we persevered, though it was tempting just to pout

The tangles at last were gone, but half the bulbs were all burned out.
The mystery of the moment then became
Quite an entertaining little game.

Finding the bulb that affected the line
Caused contention and the occasional whine.
Finally the lights were hung and lit,

I found myself wishing that was it.

But no, the bliss of things to come
Kept me on a steady run.
Shopping, wrapping, hiding gifts,
Wishing I could be more swift.

As cards arrived and guilt nudged,
Knowing my own stack hadn’t budged.
Quickly to the computer I flew
Hoping to type a clever thing or two.

Copies were made, and cards were stuffed—

I wondered if my ancestors had had it this tough.
Cards were mailed, allowing the true fun to begin,

Time for candy-making skills to kick in.

I bake and sweat and bake some more,

Another wondrous Christmas chore.
Relatives come to spend the week
As the house is trashed, I stifle a shriek.

All that scrubbing—all for naught,
Everywhere I look the place is shot!

Christmas Eve comes—it’s here at last,

And we quietly reflect on what has passed.

Tired but happy, we realize,
Christmas isn’t about the gifts we buy.

Nor the cooking or cleaning or even the lights,

Nor caroling about the town on frosty cold nights.

Christmas proclaims the birth of the One,
We call our Savior—God’s Chosen Son.

Who gave us a gift we can never repay,
The chance to return to our Father someday.

And so as we hurry with errands galore,

Let’s try to remember Christmas means so much more.
We must reach out to others with love in our hearts,
For that is how the greatest of all gifts starts.

Cheri J. Crane 1995


Return to the Neighborhood

And subscribe to our fantastic newsletter. In addition to being able to shop in the new virtual neighborhood, the LDS newsletter brings you LDS articles, LDS products, LDS services, LDS resources and LDS interviews from around the world—all with an LDS focus. Look for issues delivered to your email inbox every week on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.Join the Neighborhood Newsletter . . . Subscriptions are free and joining is easy.And when you get a minute, check out the Neighborhood's newest venture, Your LDS Radio.


Jenn said...

what a great tradition! :)

Cheri J. Crane said...

Hi Jenn. Thanks for stopping by. And I agree, this is a great tradition. ;)

Cindy Beck said...

Thanks for sharing that wonderful tradition with us. And what a wise bishop, to give a gift like that to his entire ward.

Oh, by the way, thanks so much for stopping by my blog and commenting on "A Tisp." Glad you enjoyed it!

Dannyel Crane said...

I love this tradition idea. I also enjoyed your poem. You are so talented, thank you for sharing those talents with us.