Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The White Stocking

Several years ago the bishop of our ward gave every family in our small town a small white Christmas stocking. He challenged us to gather as a family and privately decide on an individual basis what our gift to the Savior would be for the coming year. Our gift would be written on scraps of paper, and then folded and placed inside of the white stocking for safe keeping. During the holiday season, this stocking would be kept on the Christmas tree as a reminder of what we had pledged to do in the coming months. After that it was to be placed in an area where it could be seen often to help us remember what we've pledged.

Our family took this challenge to heart and each year on Christmas Eve, we gather as a family to retrieve our personal pledge from the white stocking. Silently we reflect on how well we came through on whatever our gift to the Savior was that year. Then after some thought, we decide what next year's gift will be.

As you may have guessed, these gifts are not of a material nature. They are gifts of the heart and mind, promises of self-improvement. Most in our clan select Christ-like attributes---the choice is up to each individual.

Wouldn't it be a remarkable thing if each year at Christmas-time, the entire world population would take a few moments to reflect on a gift to the Savior? Instead of focusing on the materialistic trends we see this time of year, simple gifts of the heart would be rendered.

This time of year I think of the shepherds who were the first to see the Christ-child after his humble birth. The gifts they brought were simple in comparison with those that were later given by the wise men, and yet I'm certain they were treasured most by our Elder Brother. They were gifts of humility, kindness, and love. Faith, hope, and charity were at the heart of these oblations. These are the character traits our Savior longs for each one of us to embrace and share.

So this Christmas season, as we bustle about preparing for this sacred time of year, let us reflect on how best we can celebrate the birth of our Lord. I think most of us will find that the most joy will come from sharing the simple gifts that were given long ago in a humble stable where the Prince of Peace was born.

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