Good morning brothers and sisters! I'm grateful to be able to
speak to you this morning and share my talk with you during
this wonderful time of the year. My husband Nino always loves
Christmas and this year we started early by decorating right
before Thanksgiving! When we lived in NY we always had a
fresh cut Christmas tree and Nino even had a tradition where he
would purchase the fattest tree he could find. When we moved
here in HB in late November of 2019 we thought we would stick
to similar tradition by purchasing a fresh cut tree. Little did we
know that it's pretty expensive and you couldn't even bargain
down the price which kind a took the fun out of buying a tree.
As you know we are Filipino and we always try to bargain. The
following year I ended up buying an artificial tree and Nino was
disappointed when he saw that I bought the skinniest tree I
could find! I did make him feel better this year though as we
started a new tradition with our kids, I had this idea to do three
trees representing each kid and yes it takes up most of our living
space but it makes my husband happy and the kids happy so it's
great! We just have to make sure we all don't trip over it so
that's kind a fun! Ariah and Austin even decorated their trees
including 1 year old Ale!
Another tradition that I wanted to share is that when I was a
little girl I lived in the Philippines. In the Philippines we usually
sing carols around the neighborhood and base on how good you
are they would give you money! So in honor of our heritage we
decided to do the same thing here in California last year and this
time with the missionaries. Don't worry! We made sure we
aren't paid for it, instead we actually bring our neighbors
goodies and pass along cards! So this year we made sure to
tell the missionaries that we are doing this so there will
be no surprises!
When I first got the call from Bishop Hadley I was elated to
speak. I thought "oh that will be no brainer!" I can prepare and
get this talk done! I'm always a "yes girl!" but then I realized
"oh man!" I don't think I'm equipped or have the time set aside
to study this topic. I think Bishop foreseen the future ; mother of
3 young kids just got a full-time job and so he made it simple for
me and shared a beautiful talk from President Monson.
First Presidency Messages
In Search of the Christmas Spirit
By President Thomas S. Monsoon
Temple Square in Salt Lake City is known throughout the world. It is particularly attractive at Christmastime, with its thousands of twinkling lights, traditional nativity scene, carolers singing those songs so dear to us all, and, of course, the lighted statue of the Christus, which seems to say to the world, “The spirit of Christmas is indeed the Christ spirit.”
As I make the long-awaited family trek to Temple Square each year to observe its Christmas adornment and to renew more vividly the meaning of this special season, my thoughts inevitably turn back to Christmases of long ago, and there courses through my memory a cherished experience.
As a very young elder, I was asked to join the president of my quorum in a visit to the old Primary Children’s Hospital, situated then on North Temple Street in Salt Lake City, to provide blessings for the sick children who desired to receive them. As we entered the large front door, we noted the Christmas tree with its bright and friendly lights. Carefully wrapped packages were spread beneath its outstretched limbs. Then my heart was penetrated and my spirit subdued as I read a specially prepared message that had been framed and placed on the wall:
I wonder, what does Christmas mean,
With its stars and shiny balls?
Is Christmas more than Christmas trees
And toys and games and dolls?
Of this I’m sure: There’s something more,
For I’ve heard many say
That in a strange and far-off land,
A child was born this day.
And Christmas is to celebrate
His coming from above.
He showed us how we all should live
And told us we should love.
We walked through the long corridors in silence. It was a hallowed scene. Tiny boys and girls—some with a cast upon an arm or upon a leg, others too ill to stand or sit—stared with looks of appreciation. We walked toward the bedside of a small boy, who greeted us with the question, “What are your names?” He then asked, “Will you give me a blessing?” The blessing was provided, and, as we turned to leave his bedside, he whispered a reverent “Thank you.” We walked a few more steps and then heard his feeble call, “Brother Monson.” We turned and heard him say, “Merry Christmas to you,” and a bright smile flashed across his countenance. That little one had the Christmas spirit. It was contagious. We walked from the hospital more appreciative of our priesthood callings, more grateful for our blessings. We had received the Christmas spirit. How different was this boy when compared with seven-year-old Michael and his Christmas experience. The newspaper heading read “Christmas Spirit Comes to Michael,” then continued: “For five minutes on Saturday morning, Michael lived in a fantasy world that seven-year-olds dream about. He spent the five most exciting minutes
of his life in a toy department hauling away every item he could put into, onto, around, and through a grocery cart. And it was all for free.
“That dream-come-true was his prize for winning a contest which sought the number of lights on Salt Lake City’s community Christmas tree. His guess was 9,624—one shy of the 9,625 lights on the 65-foot tree which stands on Main Street. Bespectacled, dressed in tennis shoes so he wouldn’t slip, and with his two front teeth missing, Michael took the controls of a giant grocery cart he barely could see over at exactly 11:00 A.M. “Five minutes later … his toy list included a bicycle, two road raceway sets, a tommy gun, camping set, western rifle, a long toy snake, a dart set, an astro track space toy, and countless small cars.
“Remaining amazingly calm throughout the five minutes, Michael attracted a large crowd of shoppers who moved aside as he pushed his cart through the aisles.” As I read the account, the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson seemed to acquire a new depth of meaning: “Rings and jewels are not gifts, but apologies for gifts. The only gift is a portion of thyself.” (Essays: The Poet.)
The true Christmas spirit is never found in a surfeit of things. It is less obvious in arrival and more lasting in impact.
An unknown author wrote:
I am the Christmas Spirit.
I enter the home of poverty, causing pale-faced children to open their eyes wide in pleased wonder.
I cause the miser’s clutched hand to relax and thus paint a bright spot on his soul. I cause the aged to renew their youth and to laugh in the glad old way. I keep romance alive in the heart of childhood and brighten sleep with dreams woven of magic.
I cause eager feet to climb dark stairways with filled baskets, leaving behind them hearts amazed at the goodness of the world.
I cause the prodigal to pause a moment on his wild, wasteful way, and send to anxious love some little token that releases glad tears—tears which wash away the hard lines of sorrow.
I enter dark prison cells, reminding scarred manhood of what might have been, and pointing forward to good days yet to come.
I come softly into the still, white home of pain; and lips that are too weak to speak just tremble in silent, eloquent gratitude.
In a thousand ways I cause the weary world to look up into the face of God, and for a little moment forget the things that are small and wretched.
I am the Christmas Spirit.
This is the spirit each true Christian seeks. This is the spirit I pray each may find. This is the Christ spirit. No quest is so universal, no undertaking so richly rewarding, no effort so ennobling, no purpose so divine....( Story continues.)
Share Mosiah 3:5, 7-8
5 For behold, the time cometh, and is not far distant, that with power, the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity, shall come down from heaven among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay, and shall go forth amongst men, working mighty miracles, such as healing the sick,
raising the dead, causing the lame to walk, the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and curing all manner of diseases.
7 And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people.
8 And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary.
(Share my testimony and reiterate "how I find Christ in Christmas!") I would like to leave you all with my testimony that I know Jesus Christ is the reason for the season! My family and I are so blessed to be able to move to this wonderful ward. We feel welcome here and I know this year has been the best year for my family since Nino has been baptized! I know that he was touched by each one of you. Your kindness and spirit has been a part of his conversion!
I love my Savior Jesus Christ and I know that He loves us all and wants us to share His light to everyone around us especially this time of the year. I am so grateful for this gospel and for the atonement. I leave you all these things in the name of Jesus Christ.