The first week of December during my first year of college, my roommate hung golden bells on our door and decorated our bulletin boards. The Christmas season was upon us. A ward dance and student parties were sandwiched between studies, and a new snowfall created a perfect background for the Christmas tinsel and colored lights.
Still, despite our decorations, being away from home for the first time left me feeling that something was missing. The idea of Santa Claus no longer held any excitement. A student budget limited Christmas gifts to the simple and practical. Where was the spirit of Christmas?
The Sunday before I was to go home for Christmas, I arrived at sacrament meeting early. I was nearly alone in the chapel. After the busy week I had just finished, I was relieved to just sit by myself and relax in quiet.
As I sat there, I noticed that priesthood holders were preparing the sacrament table. Reverently, they spread the cloth on the table. It somehow seemed more white and clean than even the new snow outside. Then they brought out the sparkling trays with the bread and water. Finally, they quietly unfolded another white cloth and laid it carefully over the sacred emblems.
I watched, fascinated. The impact of what I had seen hit me strongly. This, I realized, is what Christmas is about. The baby in the manger was only the beginning. The real meaning of Christmas is in the sacrifice of the Savior—the Atonement.
Since that day, I have known where to find the spirit of Christmas any week of the year. It’s there at the sacrament table.