“Christmas Greetings from the First Presidency,” Friend, Dec. 1983, 3
To all our young friends everywhere, we send Christmas greetings and our wishes for a joyous new year.
As we remember the happy times in our own lives when we were your age, we wonder which of the Christmas traditions at your house is your favorite. Is it making things—Christmas cards to send to friends, gifts for your mother and father, ornaments for the tree?
Might your favorite tradition be sharing—sharing secrets with your brothers and sisters, sharing surprise gifts for someone whose Christmas might be sad or lonely, sharing stories and customs of others lands?
Perhaps you like best to sing carols while creating sugar cookies and other holiday treats or while standing around the piano or fireplace during family home evening. Singing can also be enjoyed while wrapping gifts so carefully chosen for family and friends, while being a shepherd or an angel in the program at church, or while visiting each neighbor on Christmas Eve.
No matter what our favorite Christmas traditions are, the most joyous feeling comes when we remember that they each came about because of a certain baby.
Who is this Jesus whom angels sang so joyfully about? Who was this baby whom the shepherds left their flocks to seek? Who was this Hebrew child for whom wise men traveled from the East to bring precious gifts of adoration?
Jesus was born in a stable and lay in a manager. As He grew up, He learned, He worked, He shared, He sang, He prayed. He loved everyone and had a special love for children. He helped people, and He taught them to love and help one another.
When we read the story of His birth at this season of the year, the warm inner glow that we feel is our testimony of the reality of Jesus Christ growing within us. It grows, too, as we realize that our very best Christmas traditions are those in which we honor Jesus by doing things for others. The poet James Russell Lowell, writing what he thought the Savior might say, put it this way:
Not what we give, but what we share,
For the gift without the giver is bare;
Who gives himself with his alms feeds three,
Himself, his hungering neighbor, and me.
That you may enjoy all of your favorite Christmas traditions with a growing testimony of Him whose birth we celebrate is our prayer for you and your families during this joyous holiday season and always.