All of my life I have looked forward to the Christmas season. Family traditions, breaks from school, trees, lights, songs, and skiing have filled my Decembers with memories that I cherish. But as I reflect this year on the Christmas season, I remember more than anything, how I’ve felt throughout these Christmas seasons. In Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the Grinch is surprised to find after his night of plundering the town of Christmas gifts, decorations, and food:
He HADN’T stopped Christmas from coming!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!
And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow
Stood puzzling and puzzling: “How could it be so?”
“It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
It came without packages, boxes or bags!”
And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.
“Maybe Christmas … perhaps … means a little bit more!”
I grew up wondering how the Grinch hadn’t stolen Christmas. I didn’t realize that Christmas didn’t mean cookies, trees, presents, and families. But as I further contemplate the meaning of Christmas, I realize that it is all about gifts. Gifts that we give to each other, not sweaters, fruitcakes, and books, but what the Savior implored us to do, that “[our] joy may be full…This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you.” The feeling behind the giving is what’s most important.
The most important gift that we have ever received is the Son of God Himself, from His Father: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” He gave His Son so that we could return to live with Them, so that we, as imperfect beings, could be re-united with a perfect God.
As a Christian, I love to reflect on this glorious news. But I wonder what I can give to Jesus for what He has done for me. I cannot repay Him. This was taught by King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon:
20 I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another—
21 I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.
But what I do know is that He wants us to come to Him, for “[His] yoke is easy, and His burden is light.” He wants to come to Him, and give Him the things that we cannot take away from ourselves, either by the sheer challenge of it, or because we are mortal. He asks us to humble ourselves, and to GIVE to Him the things in our lives that bring us down. He will take them. Jesus is never disappointed by what we give Him; He is there continually to take whatever we can find within our humility and faith to give Him. Think of paintings of the Savior. Never will you see Him with His arms folded, or His back towards those in the painting, but with His arms stretched towards us, or holding us close, or teaching us how to become more happy.
So how can we come to Him? How can we put our burden upon Him, and walk more confidently on the straight and narrow path? I would recommend what my Sunday School teacher advised to my class last Sunday: write down what we have to give to Him, and just give it to him. Don’t take your gift back (that would be rude), but remember your gift that you gave to the Savior when it becomes a problem, and remember that you can’t take back something that you gave to Him.
After this lesson on giving to Jesus, I decided to give my grudges to Jesus. I decided to give to Him the things that I had tried to overcome myself, prayed, pleaded, and worked for, but had not come to realization yet. My experience has been wonderful. I want more than anything to forgive this grudge that has been the source of pain, spiritual stagnation, and negativity that has plagued my life for far longer than it should have. And I feel like I have given it to Him. Whenever I start to dwell on the unfairness of life, the seemly lack of justice in how I feel I have been wronged, or blame persons for things that have not gone as planned in my life, I remember that I have given my anger, spite, and bitterness to the Master, who loves the gift that I have given Him more than anything. My gift to Him adds to my testimony of His healing power. I can feel the difference in the lat 24 hours. I can feel the difference that I know this healing will continue to have in the coming weeks, and years. All because I gave my Elder Brother and Friend a gift that He so desperately wanted.
I know that the Savior’s greatest gift is that we can return to live with our Father, our Savior, and our families. I know that the Atonement that makes this possible, is the only thing that makes this possible. Let us live this Primary hymn this season, and as we give to others, let us remember to give to Him, and to ourselves.
Give what is in your heart
Give away, Give away
Give what is in your heart
And your heart will ever live