A Christmas Memory from President Monson
Whether it is his kindness toward “his widows” or reaching out to “the one,” President Thomas S. Monson has led a life of Christlike service. Even as a young boy—often with encouragement from his mother—he was able to look outside of himself and serve others around him, especially at Christmastime. One story tells of the joy he felt as he helped another boy have a happy Christmas.
The account of that Christmas is recounted in his biography: “He was 10 or 11 years old, and he begged his parents for an electric train. ‘My desire was not to receive the economical and everywhere-to-be-found wind-up model train,’ he has related. ‘Rather, I wanted one that operated through the miracle of electricity.’ Depression era notwithstanding, his parents—through some sacrifice—placed the longed-for train under the tree. On Christmas morning, he played for hours with the transformer, moving the engine forward and back on the tracks, pushing and pulling the cars. When his mother told him she had purchased a wind-up train for Mrs. Hansen’s, son, Mark, who lived nearby, Tommy asked to see it. The engine was short and blocky—not long and sleek like the expensive model he had cruising around his track. He did notice an oil tanker car that was part of the inexpensive set bound for Mark. Tommy’s train didn’t have such a car, and after great coaxing his mother let him pluck that car out of the box and place it with his. Her words, ‘If you need it more than Mark,’ did not dissuade him. He was pleased with the addition to his already remarkable set.
“Tommy dismissed his mother’s disappointment in him as the two of them took the remaining cars and engine down the road to Mark. He was a year or two older than Tommy but was thrilled with the gift. He wound the key to his engine —not electric like the one up the street on the floor of the Monson home—and watched, beaming, as the engine with its two cars and caboose chugged around the track.
“‘What do you think of Mark’s train?’ Tommy’s mother asked, looking at her son, who was nearly out the door before he responded, ‘Wait just a moment—I’ll be right back.’ Up the street he raced, scooped up the oil tanker from Mark’s train and another car from his own set, and ran back to the Hansens’. With a smile he announced, ‘We forgot to bring two cars that belong to your train.’ Mark added the two, carefully coupling them to the others. Tommy ‘watched the engine make its labored way around the track and felt a supreme joy difficult to describe and impossible to forget.’” —from To the Rescue, by Heidi Swinton