Latter-day Saint Life

LDS Judge Brings Christmas Joy to Prison Inmates


Christmas is a time of selflessness--but often, the service we provide and the gifts we give during this season extend only to family and friends. Brothers buy gifts for sisters, moms bake cookies for kids, and grandchildren shovel their grandparents' driveways. But for prison inmates, the spirit of Christmas is usually nonexistent. Other than a better-than-average meal, there's nothing in jail that distinguishes Christmas from any other day.

Utah 2nd District Court Judge Thomas Kay is trying to change that, one poem at a time.

Sixteen years ago, Kay was reading his Bible. He came across Matthew 25:36, which reads, "Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me." After subsequent investigation revealed that there was no special Christmas program offered at the nearby Davis County Jail, Kay decided to make his own.

That's why, for the last sixteen years, Kay has given up part of his Christmas day with his family to visit his incarcerated brothers and sisters. He reads seasonal poetry and sings Christmas songs with large groups of inmates. A talented poet, Kay has written 46 poems since 1993, and looks forward to sharing his gift with the prisoners. 

Kay's wife Kathy often accompanies him on his trips to the jail. "I imagine it's pretty hard to be away from the family," she told KSL. "I could see one lady who was having a really hard time, and I could just picture her thinking of her family at home."

One inmate, Destiny Morgan, expressed her gratitude for this act of service. "This really helped my day, I had just been feeling bad for myself, and now I'm happy and I can take that back to the pod," she said. "It can be hard to be positive around here, there's so much negativity in our lives."

Check out this sample of one of Kay's poems:

The Greatest Night on Earth

  • It was
  • the greatest night
  • on earth
  • The coming 
  • of the Lord

  • The coming of 
  • the Son of God
  • the Savior
  • of the world

  • It was
  • the greatest night
  • on earth
  • The birth 
  • of Jesus Christ

  • The baby wrapped
  • in swaddling clothes
  • beneath that star
  • so bright

  • It was 
  • the greatest night
  • on earth
  • a silent, holy night

  • The condescension 
  • of our God
  • The way, the truth
  • the life.
Lead image from the Salt Lake Tribune.
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