I am now a great-grandmother, but I shall never forget a Christmas I experienced as a young child.
I was one of 14 children in my family, and we lived in a farming town. We were very poor as far as worldly goods are concerned, though I didn’t know it then. A family in our town was even poorer than we were. The mother had died, and the father was working away from home, leaving the older children to care for the younger ones.
After we had opened our Christmas gifts, my father spoke to us about this motherless family and how they might not receive gifts. He suggested that each of us choose one of our new gifts to be placed in a box, along with food and other goodies, for this family.
I had three presents—a doll, a necklace, and an article of clothing. What a hard decision it was for me! I needed the clothing, and I wanted the doll badly, but the necklace was so pretty and sparkly. After a time, I reluctantly dropped the necklace into the box.
It was dark on Christmas night when Dad buttoned our coats and placed all of us in our horse-drawn sleigh. We left the box on this family’s doorstep, with no indication of the giver.
The next Sunday, I saw the necklace around the neck of a girl my age. She excitedly told me that Santa had left a box of gifts for them on Christmas night. Of course, my parents had sworn us to secrecy. Dad had told us that being anonymous was the best part of giving. But I can’t say it felt that good to see what had been my necklace on someone else’s neck.
Though it wasn’t an easy lesson then, I now realize the great impact this experience has had on my life. As a child I thought my father was asking me to give up a gift, but later I understood that he was actually giving me one of the most precious gifts I have ever received. How much he must have loved me, to teach me that loving someone is far more important than having something! My father’s example of love has helped me understand the love of Heavenly Father, who presented us the greatest gift of all when He gave His Only Begotten Son.