Latter-day Saint Life

The Anonymous Christmas Gift That Transformed How One Woman Saw Loving and Serving One Another


If service were a color, what color would it be? Maybe for you it’s a soft green or pastel blue. Perhaps it’s a dazzling purple or vibrant orange. For a very long time, service was always yellow to me because of the bright, sunny way serving makes me feel. Many years ago, a significant experience at Christmastime meant from that time on, service would forever be red.

My husband had been out of work for a while, and due to the financial setbacks, we weren’t making ends meet. Christmas was fast approaching, and I was afraid it was going to skip us that year. It’s not that we really needed anything. We already had so much. But I didn’t want the holiday to pass my children by completely, and I secretly hoped there was some way to pull off a little bit of magic for them. The generosity and love of family members and anonymous friends in our neighborhood and ward meant I didn’t wait or wonder very long. Because of them, we had a modest Christmas that year, and it was one of our most memorable yet.

The miracle began in early December when we received two generous gifts of money, one from some dear family members and the other delivered to us by our good bishop. He told us the undisclosed giver had stipulated we use it however we choose. Among other kindnesses, an anonymous friend left a package of new stockings for my boys, along with a box and card addressed to me. The sweet note offered words of encouragement about our situation. With tears streaming down my face, I opened the package and discovered a beautiful red wool jacket that was just my size.

Anyone who has endured difficulty in this life (and that would be all of us) understands it’s not only the physical toll that hardship takes. We are often spiritually and emotionally impacted as well. Due to the circumstances, I wasn’t in a great place in any of those areas. That red jacket quickly became a symbol of service and Christlike love because of all the good people around me who lifted my spirits and helped me keep going, even if I didn’t always know who they were.

Prior to that December, red had never been my go-to color. However, I wore the jacket that year and at Christmastime ever since with a grateful heart. Though many years have passed since then, every time I see the red jacket in my closet or wear it now, I am flooded with memories of the generosity and sweet acts of service that came to us in a remarkable way and really saved our family that Christmas. The kind acts of many have proved to me through the years that, “God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs.”

The ironic thing about service is that in the giving of ourselves, we are not lessened or depleted in any way. It’s not that we won’t be tired or maybe even exhausted after we serve, but in a very real way, we are also lifted, filled, and renewed. In addition, serving helps us feel better about ourselves and our circumstances. President Spencer W. Kimball said, “The more we serve our fellowmen in appropriate ways, the more substance there is to our souls. We become more significant individuals as we serve others. We become more substantive as we serve others—indeed, it is easier to ‘find’ ourselves because there is so much more of us to find!”

Why does service have that effect on us? Perhaps it’s partly because the Savior has told us that serving our fellow men is a partnership with Him. We are carrying out His work, and in so doing we are serving Him and trying to do what He would do if He were here. It is also often a relief to think less about our own concerns and focus our attention on someone else. When we serve, we generally have the opportunity to notice what others are going through. In comparison, we often feel like our own burdens aren’t quite as heavy, or at the very least, we recognize through similar shared experiences that we are not in this alone. As we serve, our burdens are lifted in a miraculous way.

Many times, when we are called on to help, we may be in more difficult circumstances ourselves. Elder Neal A. Maxwell shared this thought: “So often our sisters comfort others when their own needs are greater than those being comforted. That quality is like the generosity of Jesus on the cross. Empathy during agony is a portion of divinity!” The Savior set the example for us, and He knows more about agony than anyone who ever lived. Even a portion—a tiny sliver—of that divinity is something to earnestly seek and will be a blessing in our own lives and in the lives of others.

If we are His followers, we will strive to serve our fellow men. Just like everything else He asks of us, the personal blessings we receive far outweigh anything we give away. When we are tired, when we are discouraged, when we are lacking confidence or feeling bad about ourselves, one of the best remedies is right at our fingertips. We don’t have to look very far to find someone in need.

I am a princess! Little girls cherish this simple truth, but as the years advance and childhood fades, it becomes increasingly difficult to hold on to this statement. However, the eternal reality of those simple words is indisputable. Women are princesses, divine children of noble heritage. In her debut book, Wendy Ellison reminds women of that worth—constant, unchanging, and inherent as daughters of God. Now is the time for women to claim that marvelous heritage, to be kinder to self and others, and to truly live in a manner befitting royalty.

Featuring scriptural references, prophetic quotes, and personal insights, Worth: Divine Beginnings, Happy Endings will inspire readers to see the evidence of individual worth all around—in the love of our Savior, in our Father's plan of salvation, and in countless other ways too often overlooked. By learning to hold on to the true definition of worth and to silence those outside influences that interfere with self-esteem, every woman can be empowered to dismiss self-doubt and to embrace the princess within.


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