As soon as I returned from the Thanksgiving break during my freshman 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 residence hall parties were sandwiched in between studies, and a new snowfall created a perfect canvas for the tinsel and colored lights.
Still, despite our decorations, being a freshman away from home for the first time left me feeling like 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 we were to go home for Christmas break, I arrived at sacrament meeting early. I was nearly alone in the chapel. After the business of the week before, it was a relief to just sit by myself and relax in quiet.
As I sat there, I noticed the priesthood holders had come in to prepare the sacrament table. Reverently, they spread the cloth on the table. It somehow seemed more white and clean than even the new snow outside. They then brought out the sparkling trays with the bread and water. Finally, they quietly unfolded another white cloth and laid it carefully down over the sacred emblems.
I watched spellbound. The impact of what I had seen hit me full force. This, I thought, 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.