President Gordon B. Hinckley has said, “Christmas means ‘giving.’ The Father gave His Son and the Son gave His life. Without giving there is no true Christmas, and without sacrifice there is no true worship” (BYU Speeches, 14 Dec. 1960, 3).
This advent calendar has no doors to open every day, no angels to glue on. But you can bring it to life and grow closer to the Savior by giving of yourself and learning to sacrifice this Christmas. The words of the prophets and the scriptures you will read each day highlight various parts of the birth, ministry, and mission of the Lord Jesus Christ. The suggested activities will help you draw closer to the Savior as you try to have a “true Christmas” as President Hinckley has suggested. Feel free to alter the activities to suit your individual circumstances.
“Christmas means ‘giving,’ and the gift without the giver is bare. Give of yourselves; give of your substance; give of your heart and mind. … “Christmas means ‘compassion and love’ and, most of all ‘forgiveness’ … How poor indeed would be our lives without the influence of His teachings and His matchless example. … “He whose birth we commemorate this season is more than the symbol of a holiday. He is the Son of God, … the Redeemer of mankind, the King of Kings, the Prince of Peace” (Gordon B. Hinckley, BYU Speeches, 14 Dec. 1960, 3–6).
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6).
Gather or decorate 24 ornaments for your Christmas tree and place them in a basket under the tree. Each time you complete an act of service, put an ornament on the tree.
“Have I Done Any Good?” Hymns, no. 223.
“Precious little is written concerning the childhood of Jesus. One might suppose that His birth was so revolutionary in its magnitude as to dominate accounts of His boyhood. We marvel at the mature wisdom of the boy who, leaving Joseph and Mary, was found in the temple, ‘sitting in the midst of the doctors,’ teaching them the gospel. When Mary and Joseph expressed their concern about His absence, He asked of them the penetrating question: ‘Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?’ “The sacred record declares of Him: ‘Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man’” (Thomas S. Monson, Ensign, Nov. 1997, 17).
Give your parents a break. Spend some time looking after your younger brothers and sisters for them today.
“Jesus Once Was a Little Child,” Children’s Songbook, 55.
“Have a joyous time in celebrating Christmas—for despite discouragement and disheartening conditions throughout the world, it is the happiest season of the whole year. But let us ever keep in mind that people are most blessed whose daily conduct most nearly comports with the teachings and example of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, at whose birth was proclaimed: Peace on earth. Good will toward men” (David O. McKay, in Christ’s Ideals for Living, 17).
“But behold I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father who is in heaven” (3 Ne. 12:44–45).
Be kind today. Set and keep a goal to go all day today without raising your voice to anyone.
“The First Noel,” Hymns, no. 213.
“I testify that Christ is the light to all mankind. He has pointed, marked out, and lighted the way. … But even to those who reject Him, He is ‘the light which shineth in the darkness’ (John 1:5)” (Ezra Taft Benson, in Church News, 12 Oct. 1991, 6).
“And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings; … The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God” (D&C 88:11, 13).
Look at Christmas lights and think about what they mean. Where does all light come from? Write your feelings in your journal.
“The Lord Is My Light,” Hymns, no. 89.
“Every member has made a covenant to do works of kindness as the Savior would do. So any call to bear witness and to care for others is not a request for extra service; it is a blessing designed by a loving Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ. They have provided such calls as well as other settings, sometimes without a formal call, all for the same purpose. Each is a chance to prove what blessings flow from being a covenant people, and each is an opportunity for which you agreed to be accountable” (Henry B. Eyring, Ensign, Nov. 1996, 31).
“And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish” (Mosiah 4:16).
Do something nice for someone without their knowing it was you.
“Each Life That Touches Ours for Good,” Hymns, no. 293.
“Charity is accepting someone’s differences, weaknesses, and shortcomings; having patience with someone who has let us down; or resisting the impulse to become offended when someone doesn’t handle something the way we might have hoped. Charity is refusing to take advantage of another’s weakness and being willing to forgive someone who has hurt us. Charity is expecting the best of each other” (Marvin J. Ashton, Ensign, May 1992, 19).
“And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. … But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him” (Moro. 7:45, 47).
Be the first to say hello to people all day.
“A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief,” Hymns, no. 29.
“To remain true and faithful through this mortal vale of tears, we must love God with all our heart, might, mind, and strength and love our neighbor as ourselves. … We must gather strength from each other. We must also ‘succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees’” (James E. Faust, Ensign, Nov. 1996, 53).
“For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. … Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matt. 25: 35–36, 40).
Volunteer at a local food bank or shelter and help a worthy cause.
“Because I Have Been Given Much,” Hymns, no. 219.
“Each of us has his own way of remembering. At Christmas time I take delight in visiting the widows and widowers from the ward where I served as bishop. There were 87 then—just nine today. On such visits, I never know what to expect; but this I do know: visits like these provide for me the Christmas spirit, which is, in reality, the Spirit of Christ” (Thomas S. Monson, Ensign, May 1981, 48).
“For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God” (Moro. 7:16).
Visit someone who is sick. Ask him or her to tell you about a past Christmas.
“Once in Royal David’s City,” Hymns, no. 205.
“Despite all we can do, we cannot have a fullness of joy in this world or through our own efforts. Only in Christ can our joy be full. This is why the angel proclaimed: ‘I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day … a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord’ (Luke 2:10–11). We are able to have a fullness of joy only when spirit and body are inseparably connected in the glorious resurrection to celestial glory. That joy, of course, comes only through the mercy of the Holy Messiah” (Dallin H. Oaks, Ensign, Nov. 1991, 74).
“And lo, he cometh unto his own, that salvation might come unto the children of men even through faith on his name. … And he shall rise the third day from the dead; and behold, he standeth to judge the world” (Mosiah 3:9–10).
Express your love and gratitude for the Savior in your prayers.
“It Came upon the Midnight Clear,” Hymns, no. 207.
“Thoughts of Jesus … [should] be far more frequent and much more constant in all times and seasons of our lives. How often do we think of the Savior? How deeply and how gratefully and how adoringly do we reflect on his life? How central to our lives do we know him to be?” (Howard W. Hunter, Ensign, May 1993, 64).
“Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day” (Alma 37:37).
Organize your family or friends and go Christmas caroling.
“Jesus, Once of Humble Birth,” Hymns, no. 196.
“We need not wait for Christmas, we need not postpone till Thanksgiving Day our response to the Savior’s tender admonition: ‘Go, and do thou likewise’” (Thomas S. Monson, Ensign, Nov. 1994, 71).
“A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. … But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, … and took care of him. … Which now of these … was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?” (Luke 10:30–31, 33–34, 36).
Try to resolve differences with someone whom you have an unresolved problem with.
“Lord, I Would Follow Thee,” Hymns, no. 220.
“He whose birth the Christian world celebrates is indeed the Son of God, the Redeemer, the Promised Messiah. No message is more significant than the one He brought. No event is of greater importance than His atoning sacrifice and subsequent resurrection. And no mortal tongue can express sufficient thanks for all that Jesus has done for us” (Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 10).
“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isa. 53:4–5).
Do you have a specific problem you’d like to overcome? List solutions to your problem in your journal and then pray to Heavenly Father for help in implementing them.
“I Stand All Amazed,” Hymns, no. 193.
“As we remember the Savior, we remember an empty tomb, a symbol that the Lord has risen and a promise to all of the Resurrection and life after death. Because of our Savior’s Atonement, in death’s darkness there is no sting, in death’s depression there is no victory” (Robert D. Hales, Ensign, Nov. 1997, 26).
“[Then] came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it [and said] He is not here: for he is risen, as he said” (Matt. 28:1–2, 6).
Read the accounts of the Resurrection in the New Testament and in 3 Nephi. Record your feelings in your journal.
“I Know That My Redeemer Lives,” Hymns, no. 136.
“That we might love one another, and through that love contribute to the establishment of peace. That was the great message heralded by the heavenly hosts at the birth of the Savior, when they declared, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men’ (Luke 2:14). To proclaim that message to an indifferent world is the divine responsibility of the Church. What greater message could there be?” (David O. McKay, in Conference Report, Oct. 1952, 7).
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you. … By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:34–35).
Remember Christmastime is a special time to wish for peace on earth, so foster that peace by not quarreling with your siblings. Try to treat your family as well as you treat your friends.
“Love One Another,” Hymns, no. 308.
“I testify that the Savior will come again, and that at his second coming some will say, ‘What are these wounds in thine hands and in thy feet?’ He will show the wounds in His hands, wrists, and feet, and they will ask when and where he received these wounds. He will answer: ‘I am Jesus that was crucified. I am the Son of God’ (D&C 45:51–52)” (James E. Faust, Ensign, Nov. 1983, 11).
“When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats” (Matt. 25:31–32).
Write to full-time missionaries in your ward encouraging them as they testify of the Savior to ‘all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people’ (D&C 112:1).
“When He Comes Again,” Children’s Songbook, 82.
“While the prophets in the old land were receiving revelations from God, the people of Lehi on this, the American continent, were not left without guidance. … He revealed to them also, 600 years before Christ’s coming, that he would come, that he was the Savior of the world, that he would be persecuted and crucified, and that he would be resurrected. … They were told of the signs which would be shown on this, the American continent, at the time of Christ’s birth and crucifixion. Every word which had been revealed to them regarding these events was fulfilled” (N. Eldon Tanner, in Conference Report, Apr. 1964, 61–62).
“For behold, the time cometh [that] the Lord Omnipotent … shall come down from heaven among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay, and shall go forth amongst men, working mighty miracles” (Mosiah 3:5).
Use the Book of Mormon Index to find references to the first or second coming of the Savior.
“Far, Far Away on Judea’s Plains,” Hymns, no. 212.
“At this Christmas season, I hope that we may cultivate grateful hearts so that we may cherish the multitude of blessings that God has so graciously bestowed. May we openly express such gratitude to our Father in Heaven and our fellowmen” (James E. Faust, Ensign, Dec. 1996, 7).
“And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more” (D&C 78:19).
Write a letter to your parents thanking them for the things they have done for you. Being grateful is a wonderful gift.
“While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks,” Hymns, no. 211.
“Each of us is a partaker of the experience called death. None escapes. Were we to remain unrescued, lost would be paradise sought. Lost would be family loved. Lost would be friends remembered. Realizing this truth, we begin to appreciate the supreme joy which accompanied the birth of the Savior of the world. How glorious the pronouncement of the angel: Behold, a virgin ‘shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins’ (Matt. 1:21)” (Thomas S. Monson, Ensign, June 1971, 96).
“Behold I say unto you, that as these things are true, and as the Lord God liveth, there is none other name given under heaven save it be this Jesus Christ, of which I have spoken, whereby man can be saved” (2 Ne. 25:20).
In a prayer today, thank Heavenly Father for all he has given you, without asking for anything.
“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” Hymns, no. 214.
“In mortality, the babe of Bethlehem’s birth and life, concluding with the atoning sacrifice, was prophesied by ancient prophets in all dispensations. Only he could make the atoning sacrifice—having received the power over death from his Father. He overcame death, the grave’s power was nullified, and he became our Savior, Mediator, and Master of the Resurrection—a means of salvation and immortality to all of us” (Robert D. Hales, Ensign, Nov. 1983, 67).
“And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives! … That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God” (D&C 76:22, 24).
Read the accounts of the Crucifixion in the New Testament. Write your feelings in your journal.
“I Believe in Christ,” Hymns, no. 134.
“Christ suffered for the sins and sorrows and pains of all the rest of the human family, providing remission for all of our sins as well, upon conditions of obedience. … As the Apostle Paul wrote, we were ‘bought with a price’ (1 Cor. 6:20). What an expensive price and what a merciful purchase! … “Perhaps we do not always attach that kind of meaning to our weekly sacramental service. … Do we see it as our passover, remembrance of our safety and deliverance and redemption?” (Jeffrey R. Holland, Ensign, Nov. 1995, 67–68).
“And the church did meet together oft, to fast and to pray, and to … partake of bread and wine, in remembrance of the Lord Jesus. And they were strict to observe that there should be no iniquity among them” (Moro. 6:5–7).
Focus your thoughts on the Savior during sacrament meeting and while taking the sacrament.
“Tell Me the Stories of Jesus,” Children’s Songbook, 57.
“The Book of Mormon is the keystone in our witness of Jesus Christ, who is Himself the cornerstone of everything we do. It bears witness of His reality with power and clarity. … Much of the Christian world today rejects the divinity of the Savior. They question His miraculous birth, His perfect life, and the reality of His glorious resurrection. The Book of Mormon teaches in plain and unmistakable terms about the truth of all of those” (Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, Nov. 1986, 6).
“Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth. … Wherefore, he is the firstfruits unto God, inasmuch as he shall make intercession for all the children of men; and they that believe in him shall be saved” (2 Ne. 2:6, 9).
Write your testimony of the Savior in a Book of Mormon and give it to someone not of our faith.
“Angels We Have Heard on High,” Hymns, no. 203.
“The Son of God, he who was the great Jehovah and condescended to be born in Bethlehem’s manger; he who went about doing good, blessing and healing the people; he who gave his life on Calvary’s cross in the great atoning sacrifice; he who rose from the dead the third day. He lives, and sits on the right hand of his father. He is our Lord, our Redeemer, our guide, our helper, and our friend, through whose atonement there has been opened the gate of immortality and eternal life. This is a beautiful and a blessed season. Let us rejoice in the Lord Jesus Christ and in his most basic of teachings—to do good always” (Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, Dec. 1994, 5).
“As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10).
One way you can do good is to pay a generous fast offering next month.
“The Nativity Song,” Children’s Songbook, 52.
“Joseph Smith lived as an instrument in the hands of the Lord for the establishment of His restored work in this, the dispensation of the fullness of times. He died in testimony of the Savior of mankind” (Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, May 1994, 75).
“Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it” (D&C 135:3).
Read John Taylor’s account of the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum in Doctrine and Covenants 135.
“Praise to the Man,” Hymns, no. 27.
“Giving, not getting, brings to full bloom the Christmas spirit. Enemies are forgiven, friends remembered, and God obeyed. The spirit of Christmas illuminates the picture window of the soul, and we look out upon the world’s busy life and become more interested in people and things. To catch the real meaning of the spirit of Christmas, we need only to drop the last syllable and it becomes the Spirit of Christ” (Thomas S. Monson, Ensign, Dec. 1995, 2).
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
Read the accounts of the birth of the Savior in the New Testament with your family.
“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” Hymns, no. 209.
“True happiness comes only by making others happy—the practical application of the Savior’s doctrine of losing one’s life to gain it. In short, the Christmas spirit is the Christ spirit, that makes our hearts glow in brotherly love and friendship and prompts us to kind deeds of service. “It is the spirit of the gospel of Jesus Christ, obedience to which will bring ‘peace on earth,’ because it means—good will toward all men” (David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals, 1953, 551).
“And I looked and beheld the virgin again, bearing a child in her arms. And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father!” (1 Ne. 11:20–21).
Give the gift of yourself to your family and loved ones. Spend the day doing kind things for your parents and siblings. You could cook breakfast for your parents, clean up wrapping paper, or help to prepare dinner.
“Joy to the World,” Hymns, no. 201.