4. President Russell M. Nelson
One day close to Christmas, President Nelson and his extended family would often gather for their annual Christmas pageant. After reading the birth of the Savior from both the Old Testament and the Book of Mormon, they would sing Christmas songs and finish with “Silent Night.”
“Just as the Savior’s mother pondered sacred things in her heart, so some of our deepest feelings of reverence and gratitude are unspoken and unsung. Some are felt only deeply within. They are so sacred that speaking openly of them would seem in some way to desecrate them. I’m sure we all feel that way when we sing and ponder the birth, the mission, and the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ,” President Nelson said.
5. Elder M. Russel Ballard
One of Elder Ballard’s favorite memories as a small child was when his Grandfather and Grandmother Ballard would visit their home. When he was young, Elder Ballard's grandfather served as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. At the time, Elder Ballard didn't fully understand the calling of his grandfather; he was just Grandpa Ballard and Elder Ballard was always excited when he came to visit.
“Reflecting back on those special Christmas mornings with Grandfather and Grandmother Ballard brings special fond memories since today I find myself as a member of the Council of the Twelve and I have a new and deeper appreciation for those special Christmas mornings with my grandparents. I hope now as my grandchildren come to visit me and I go to visit them, I can create memories for them that will live on long after I am gone,” Elder Ballard said.
6. Elder Dale G. Renlund
Elder Renlund recounted the fond memories he had of Christmas with his family. According to a Swedish tradition, Jultomten—or Santa Claus—arrives on Christmas Eve, but before Elder Renlund and his siblings opened their presents from Jultomten, Elder Renlund’s father would read Luke 2 aloud to the family. After finishing the verses, Elder Renlund’s father would bear testimony of the birth of Christ, telling the family, “He is my Savior and He is yours.”
“Of all the Christmas gifts I ever received, the gift I remember most was the gift of my father’s testimony to me. I knew that he knew the reality of Christ’s birth. He knew who that babe in Bethlehem was and what He would accomplish. This gift was better than any gift that Jultomten ever brought or could ever bring,” Elder Renlund said.
Lead image from lds.org
How did Joseph Smith celebrate Christmas? What did John Taylor say about the pioneers’ first Christmas in the Salt Lake Valley? What was the heartening message that George Albert Smith included on his 1945 Christmas cards? Christmas with the Prophets provides glimpses into the individual Christmas celebrations of each President of the Church, with recurring themes of missionary efforts, Church work, family, and service. Some of the vignettes are personal, others soul-stirring, poignant, and tender. Often their experiences and messages reflect the world conditions at that time and serve as little snapshots of history.