My Christmas Miracle

Joan Burton Stott, California, USA

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    During the fall of 1968, our bishop asked my parents if they would pledge money toward building the Provo Utah Temple. Wards don’t do that today, but it was common back then. My dad pledged U.S. $1,000. That might not seem like much money, but it was to us. My father was working two jobs to help support a son in college, a son on a mission, and five children at home.

    When my father sat us down for family council and told us he had pledged $1,000 toward the temple, I remember thinking, “You might as well have pledged $1 million because both amounts are unreachable.” I couldn’t believe he had pledged that much, and we had less than four months to gather the funds.

    We chose four ways to help raise money: we would forfeit gift giving that Christmas and donate the money we would have spent on gifts; my sisters and I would donate our babysitting money; my little brother would do odd jobs to earn money; and as a family we would go to a local farm, pick apples daily for a few weeks, and donate the earnings.

    We gift wrapped a shoebox that would hold our deposits, added a picture of a temple and a picture of Jesus Christ, and placed the box on a small table. Excitement grew as our donations increased. Our focus switched from the presents we wanted to our gift for the Savior. I so appreciated the gift He had given God’s children—His life—that I wanted to give something back to Him.

    Picking apples turned out to be the most difficult and satisfying way to earn money. It was draining, but we were strengthened and rewarded as we spent time together as a family. We began to be “knit together in unity and in love” (Mosiah 18:21).

    As Christmas approached, I would peek into the donation box, but I was always disappointed. Despite our efforts, we were far from our goal.

    I felt wonderful, though, about our decision to forfeit presents. I knew that our sacrifices were small, but I had faith that the Savior would be pleased.

    One day my dad announced that we had reached our goal and that he had donated the money. I never found out how we raised the rest so quickly.

    The fulfillment of Dad’s pledge that Christmas was miraculous. But for me, the real miracle was that through giving instead of receiving, I grew closer to the Savior. That was better than any Christmas gift I could have received. Seven years later the gift was returned to me as I knelt across an altar in the Provo Temple to be sealed for time and all eternity to my husband.