They Couldn’t Steal the Christmas Spirit


It was four days before Christmas, and the excitement in our family was almost tangible. Heidi was busy wrapping her gifts for Mom, while Erin was fascinated by the brightly colored lights twinkling in the window. I was excited because tonight the company John worked for was treating the employees and their wives to dinner and a show.

After dropping the girls off at the baby-sitter’s, John and I were on our way. We used the time as we drove to the company party to reflect on our many blessings.

The party was a huge success. It was well after midnight when we pulled into the driveway. John went ahead to open the door and turn the lights on, while I wrapped our two sleeping girls in blankets to protect them against the wintry night air.

Suddenly, John came running back to me, shouting, “We’ve been robbed!” With Erin in my arms, I felt a chill run through me. After checking the house, we discovered that all our Christmas presents were gone. The thieves had taken everything—even our tithing receipts and patriarchal blessings. We were devastated! What could we do? We felt so helpless.

Instead of enjoying the fun of customary family events connected with the celebration of the birth of our Savior, we struggled with a cold and empty feeling. The gifts could surely be replaced, but the love and care that went into each gift and its wrapping could not.

We held a family council and decided to stay indoors and celebrate Christmas quietly, keeping our focus on a celebration of the Savior’s birth.

That Sunday, news of the robbery spread. Sunday evening, as John and I sat in the living room with the lights out, we heard the sound of car doors slamming. We both jumped, thinking the burglars had come back. Quickly we dashed to the front door. We couldn’t believe what we saw.

Tiny reflections of lighted candles flickered in the frosty air as 25 ward members sang carols to brighten our spirits. It was hard for us to hold back our tears.

As they drove off, we felt joy replace the bitterness in our hearts. When we walked back into the house, the phone was ringing—the first of many phone calls that night from neighbors wondering how they could help us. We turned on Erin’s favorite twinkling lights and decided to have a Christmas celebration, no matter how small.

The following day was Christmas Eve. About 11:00 A.M. it began—visit after visit from Church members with presents and food. One sister was prompted to give us money, and it turned out to be the same amount that had been stolen. Boy Scouts came and made their contribution. Members from a neighboring stake heard of the robbery and sent Santa himself. Heidi could not believe her eyes. This parade of love and aid continued until about midnight.

By the time we went to bed that Christmas Eve, our hearts were filled with gratitude to others. Exemplifying the spirit of Christmas, those who responded to our need had turned a nightmare into a festival of Christlike love.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Keith Larson