On Dec. 15, 1985, a Church News editorial titled “The Three Levels of Christmas” was published in the Deseret News. It was written by William B. Smart, who was at the time the editor and general manager of the Church News. The column made a significant impact on author and speaker John Bytheway, and years later, Smart’s “Three Levels of Christmas” are reaching a new generation through Bytheway’s most recent book, Born This Happy Morning.
This week, a five-minute fireside with Bytheway outlining the three levels of Christmas, as taught by Smart, was released by LDS Living.
The levels are as follows:
Level one Christmas—The Santa Claus Christmas: “It’s the level at which we do too much and spend too much and eat too much, and we enjoy every minute of it,” Bytheway explains. “It’s probably fair to say that the world is mostly focused on the Santa Claus level. It’s not a bad place to visit, but it’s not the place that we want to stay.”
Level two Christmas—The Silent Night Christmas: “On this level, we’re more focused on ‘the reason for the season,’ which is the birth of Jesus Christ—and this level is captured in our beautiful Nativity scenes that we display in our homes depicting that little holy family, the shepherds, the star, the wise men, and bringing gifts from the East.”
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Level three Christmas—Christ the Lord’s Christmas: “Brother Smart observed even with all that level one and level two of Christmas have to offer, something is still missing—and he said it so well, I want to get it exactly right, ‘The angels, the star, and the shepherd, even the silent, sacred mystery of the holy night itself, can’t long satisfy humanity’s basic need. The man who keeps Christ in the manger will, in the end, be disappointed and empty.’ . . . The adult Christ, and all that He accomplished on our behalf as an adult, is exactly why we refer to His nativity as a ‘happy morning.’”
Hear more from John Bytheway on a recent interview from the All In podcast.