When we think of Christmas, we often think of giving and of receiving gifts. Gifts can be part of a cherished tradition, but they can also detract from the simple dignity of the season and distract us from celebrating the birth of our Savior in a meaningful way.
I know from personal experience that the most memorable Christmases can be those that are the most humble. The presents of my childhood were certainly modest by today’s standards. Sometimes I received a mended shirt or a pair of gloves or socks. I remember one special Christmas when my brother gave me a wooden knife he had carved.
It doesn’t take expensive gifts to make Christmas meaningful. I am reminded of a story told by Elder Glen L. Rudd, who served as a member of the Seventy from 1987 to 1992. One day before Christmas a number of years ago, while he was managing a bishops’ storehouse, he learned from an ecclesiastical leader about a needy family that had recently moved to the city. When he went to visit their small apartment, he discovered a young single mother with four children under age 10.
The family’s needs were so great that the mother could not buy treats or presents for her children that Christmas—she couldn’t even afford a tree. Brother Rudd talked with the family and learned that the three little girls would love a doll or a stuffed animal. When he asked the six-year-old son what he wanted, the hungry little boy replied, “I would like a bowl of oatmeal.”
Brother Rudd promised the little boy oatmeal and maybe something else. Then he went to the bishops’ storehouse and gathered food and other supplies to meet the immediate needs of the family.
That very morning a generous Latter-day Saint had given him 50 dollars “for someone in need.” Using that donation, Brother Rudd bundled up three of his own children and went Christmas shopping—his children selecting toys for the needy children.