Christmas is now less than three weeks away. That means there are only 19 (or 20 if you really want to push the last-minute limit) days to finalize all shopping, gift wrapping, decorating, caroling, baking, cleaning, and a million other plans and to-dos on your list this December.
In a chestnut shell, it's crunch time.
But that doesn't mean our focus should be on our to-do list instead of the true reason for the festivities. In fact, now is the time to realign our focus on the Savior and revitalize the spirit of Christmas in our lives to keep throughout the year.
But with so many things to distract us this season, how is that even possible?
Sister Marjorie Hinckley not only shows us how to keep the focus on Christ this season but also how to enjoy the little moments of wonder as we experience the true spirit of Christmas, even with all our to-dos.
Janet Lee, wife of the late Rex E. Lee, former president of Brigham Young University, remembers an occasion when Sister Hinckley's optimistic outlook changed her own perspective. In Glimpses into the Life and Heart of Marjorie Pay Hinckley, she says:
Several years ago, during the Christmas season, President and Sister Hinckley came to BYU for a musical event. Before the program, there was a buffet dinner, and at one point while the men were away from our table, the women began to talk about the frustrations of getting ready for Christmas. Our conversation focused on the fact that everything about the season was becoming a burden for women. We bear the responsibility of selecting gifts, organizing social events, preparing everyone's favorite food, and making certain that family, guests, and even the less fortunate have a merry Christmas. We felt overwhelmed if not resentful.
Sister Hinckley listened patiently, and then without the slightest edge of criticism in her voice said, “I love Christmas. It is the most joyful of all seasons. I love seeing the eyes of little children light up on Christmas morning. I love giving gifts. I love being with my family. We just need to simplify and remember what we are celebrating.”
After she had spoken, something magical happened. Our attitudes shifted, and we began to talk about the birth of our Savior and the spirit of giving. In the years that have passed since those words were spoken, a burden has been lifted for me during the holidays. As I shop, prepare food, and join with friends and family to celebrate the birth of our Savior, her words nurture and calm me. “I love Christmas,” I hear her say, and I let her teach me to relax and enjoy the season.
Sister Hinckley also shared her thoughts about the Christmas season in a talk titled "The Savior."
Christmas is a wonderful time of the year. As the season begins, we are still basking in the glow of Thanksgiving Day, when we paused to thank our Heavenly Father in a special way for our multitudinous blessings and in many instances enjoyed the company of beloved family members and friends.
And then we come into the beautiful Christmas season.
I love everything about it. I know it has become too commercial. We would all agree. But perhaps in our particular culture, that is the way we have of showing that this is the most important day of the year. I love the street lights, the Temple Square lights, the store decorations, the folks from the Salvation Army ringing their bells. Yes, even the crowds of Christmas shoppers, knowing that most of them are looking for something that might make someone happy. There is much of hustle and bustle, of gift wrapping, card sending, baking, housecleaning, phoning, and feeling concern about proper gifts for this one and that one. But the wonderful thing is that through it all there is an escalating awareness of the Savior. We will, sure as anything, read again about His birth in Luke. We will sing and listen to all kinds of music about Him, from “Away in a Manger” to The Messiah. But what does it all mean if it doesn't do something to us inside? The words that always jump out at me are “Come, follow me.” What did Jesus do that we could follow him in doing?
Jesus went about doing good.
He healed the leper, cast out devils, raised the dead. None of this can we do in just the same way. But in the environment we find ourselves in, there is so much we can do. There is no such thing as a small act of kindness. Acts of kindness come easily at Christmas. Our grandchildren are having a great time shopping for a family who cannot provide a Christmas for their children. But there are myriads of kindnesses we can do all through the year if we are alert to them.
Lead image from Getty Images
In Glimpses into the Life and Heart of Marjorie Pay Hinckley, dozens of family members and friends share experiences and feelings that demonstrate the character of a quietly remarkable woman. These vignettes combine with the words of Sister Hinckley herself, gleaned from talks, letters, and conversations, to create a portrait that is engaging and inspiring. From her profound yet simple faith to her optimism and sense of humor, from her love of mothering and grandmothering to her enthusiasm for learning, Sister Hinckley's personality traits are perfectly suited to her mission. She goes through life with a smile in her heart and a gift for loving that reaches out to embrace everyone she meets. As you meet her in these pages, you'll fall under the spell of her warmth, her genuineness, and her testimony.