As I think about Christmas, the things that come most quickly to my mind are the great memories! The funny, less-significant things like being out of school and the food as well as things of a bit more importance such as music, family, gifts, and the Savior. As I think about them, I smile and laugh to myself to remember all the fun traditions and things and to then see how they can be linked back to the real Reason for the season.
Music has been and always will be a big part of my life. The case is the same with Christmas music! Alright, so I can’t stand a lot of it and some of the songs are pretty corny but a lot of it, especially the Christmas hymns are the best! We’ve been caroling around Nelspruit and to see people’s faces light up as they recognize and start singing along is so sweet! As well, there are great memories associated with my Raffi CD that I’ve been playing in the car! Haha we always played that CD when we decorated our Christmas tree. It got to the point where we now know ALL the words and even what song comes next before it starts playing! Haha! Or all of the times at Grandma and Grandpa Richard’s house when we had the Christmas talent show, I can’t remember not doing something musical each year. Music is definitely a great part of this Christmas season!
And speaking of the Richard’s Christmas party, memories of family gatherings and family also fill my mind when I think of Christmas. It is always a time where people came from out of town for all of the different parties and to celebrate with the family! As we have been asked what is our favorite part of Christmas, family has always been a part of my answer! I don’t think there is something else that makes me smile like I do when I think about my family and Christmas! Isn’t it great that we also have knowledge of how to have an eternal family!? That way our happiness can be eternal! Only through the Atonement of Jesus Christ is that able to happen and it is this season in which we celebrate His birth. :) I have great memories attached with my family and friends and Christmas!
The next thing I think about when I think “Christmas” is gifts. And I like to think about it in two ways. The first, giving of gifts is one I know we are all familiar with. It’s one of my favorite things to give gifts! Now, admittedly I can say that when I was younger my favorite was “what do I get from Santa!?!?” but now I think that I enjoy giving more than receiving! And I think that is because when you have someone picked out, you start to think about what gift could make that person smile the most, what would mean the most to them? And then you give your gift and it’s usually a memorable experience! That is why I like giving gifts but the second reason may be a bit less common of a thought and may be a bit more difficult. The second part of gifts is being the receiver of gifts. What does it take to be a good receiver? I think it boils down to humility (Jacob 4:3), gratitude and then using the gift! When all those fall into place, I think we are on our way to some great Christmas memories!
The last and most important thing I think of when its Christmas time is the Savior. He is the Gift and He is my favorite part of Christmas. I cannot remember a time where Christmas in my life was not very closely linked with the Savior! We were forever dressing up and acting out the nativity whether it was with the Smith family, the Richards/Homer family, or even my immediate family! This season is truly all about the one we call our Redeemer and our Savior, Jesus the Christ! How great that he came to the earth introduced by a heavenly choir singing wondrous music. Because of Him, we have eternal families and Happiness! Because our Father in Heaven gave us the gift of His Son (John 3:16, 3 Nephi 14:9-11) and He gave His everything for us in the gift of the Atonement, we are able to have not just immortality but eternal life! So how do we receive this gift? We live the gospel that he taught us! Our Faith in Christ leads us to repentance and the making/renewing of covenants that will allow us to live Christ-like lives. How do we give back? We turn outward and serve and love those around us! (Mosiah 2:17)
I am very thankful for this unique chance to serve during Christmas time! My focus can be wholly upon the Savior and the Atonement! With the help of the Savior and my companion, we can bring others to the same knowledge and subsequent happiness and peace that our families have received!! With this, I wish all of you back home a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!! Remember the real Reason for the season and let us all strive to be more like Him in this coming 2015 year!
I love you!
-Elder David Spencer “Tony” Smith
|On top of the Klaserie Falls in the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve (also known as God's Window)|