As we approach Christmas, we asked 12 of our Magnify podcast contributors which word or theme was on their hearts and minds this December. We also heard from singer-songwriter Emma Nissen, the featured musical guest on the Magnify Christmas special episode. Their answers can help inspire us all to have a more Christ-centered Christmas and holiday season.
As a teacher, Kaylen Nelson had finals and the end of the semester on her mind. Her first instinct was to survive December and start fresh with the new semester. But she wasn’t willing to settle for just surviving, so instead, her word is enjoy. This is her first Christmas as a mom, and Kaylen plans to enjoy every moment, even the hard ones.
Cristi Brazao and her older daughter recently performed Handel’s Messiah, and she couldn’t help but notice that light is mentioned three times in the oratorio. Cristi has been pondering this word in its many aspects: physical lights on the Christmas tree, the light from the stars, the light within us, the light we receive when we allow others to express kindness to us, the light that grows within us as we do things that we are nervous to do, and the light that can shine through the dark moments and make our burdens light. And most importantly, Jesus Christ, who is the Light of the World.
While listening to “O Come Let Us Adore Him,” Hilary Craner realized that it is easy to adore a beautiful newborn baby. She hopes to come to adore Christ as an adult, with all that He teaches and does for us.
Andrea Cabrera recently read this definition of jubilant: the feeling where you finally feel like you have everything you’ve ever wanted. The fun sound of the word caught her attention, it certainly rolls off the tongue, but she pondered how the holiday season can be a time when we get caught up in the superficial. What we ought to remember most is that we have everything we’ve ever needed to be happy, which is Jesus Christ.
Brooke Walker was feeling a bit of sadness or heaviness, though she hesitated to call it that, this Christmas season. She has been swept up by the nostalgia of Christmases past but remains grateful for those feelings because they mean that she had Christmases worth remembering. The rich traditions that her mother and grandmother created helped evoke that Christmas nostalgia. Brooke hopes to create meaningful new traditions with her children that will help cement the true meaning of Christmas.
Reyna Aburto’s celebration of the Savior’s birth naturally reminded her of the love He feels for us. Love is the reason why Jesus Christ came to this earth as a baby in the humblest circumstances because He loves His father and each of us. Love is the reason for Christmas.
Both Kalo Latu and Janelle Gardiner chose peace as their word. Christmas is a time of joy for so many, but there are those who find this holiday season perplexing and distressing. Kalo is grateful to know that she can stand in the midst of uncertainty and distress and not feel despair. She knows that there is only one source of true peace, and she is grateful she can turn to Christ at this season and any other. Janelle added that one of Christ’s names is the Prince of Peace. He has said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you, not as the world giveth, give it unto you.” His peace is truly like nothing else we find in the world.
As Maria Eckersley considered the Christmas story, she realized that many of the characters have to seek something. The story features many seekers crossing expanses of dry land at night, following a star, or going back to an ancestral home. In order to seek, each of these characters had to keep their eyes up. Maria admitted that with the craziness of the season, she struggles to keep her eyes up. This season, she hopes to be a better seeker of the things Christ is guiding her toward.
Shima Baradaran Baughman’s four-year-old daughter has begun misusing the word heart, because her name, Joon, means heart in Farsi. She makes funny comments such as, “My heart likes eating ice cream,” or “My heart doesn’t want to go to school.” Shima began thinking about our hearts and how Christ’s specialty is healing broken hearts. The holidays can amplify hardship, but no matter what we are going through, Christ is always with us. When our lives feel empty, Christ can hold our broken hearts until they heal. Shima hopes that we can give our hearts to Jesus this Christmas so they may be full of His love.
Sometimes it seems that the amount of distress, sadness, and depression in the world is overwhelming. Between wars, rumors of wars, missing loved ones, and unfulfilled dreams, there are plenty of reasons we could despair. Eme Martin suggests we do the opposite, however, and bravely hope for what may come. We believe in Christ, the hope of Israel, and celebrate Him at this time of year. As we put our faith in Him, we can hope for the greater things the new year will bring.
Melinda Brown loves sacred Christmas music. As she was listening to “Still, Still, Still,” one of her favorites, she considered the various meanings that word can take on. Still doesn’t necessarily mean no movement. It can also mean “even yet”, as in, “Can God possibly still love me when I’m so weak and flawed?” When Melinda hears this song, she feels that, yes, God still loves me. Whatever your weaknesses are, He loves you still. To Melinda, that is the message of Christmas.
Emma Nissen shared that her theme this season has been trust. Even when people are unkind, she chooses to trust that God can turn disappointment into hope, purpose, and resolution. He knows each person’s individual battles, and He will make righteous judgments. This truth frees us from needing to judge others, empowering us to feel joy and optimism regardless of any difficult interactions.
While their words and experiences varied, there was a common theme throughout: this is a time to rejoice in the knowledge of Christ's life. Christmas makes it easy to remember the Savior, but we must also remember that all the joy the holidays bring is possible because of Jesus Christ's Atonement.
Listen to the complete Magnify Christmas special here to get additional insights from our contributors and enjoy Emma's jazzy renditions of “Joy to the World,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and more.
You can also hear her rich, jazzy take on classic Christmas songs at this year’s Deseret Book Christmas Concert. Learn more about how to watch below.
A festive family concert featuring some of your favorite Deseret Book music artists! Sing along with the Truman Brothers and clap along with The Bonner Family as they share their original tunes and joyful renditions of classic carols. You’ll even get to hear from one of our newest artists, Emma Nissen, whose rich, jazzy vocals are sure to put some new Christmas favorites on your playlist. Keep the spirit of the season going with laughter, joy, and this beautiful Christmas concert!