Thomas S. Monson is the president and prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose members are sometimes informally called Mormons. In this small collection of quotes, he reminds us of the true spirit of
Christmas, which is not about getting gifts, but of remembering the Savior, Jesus Christ, and honoring His gift to us.
Giving, Not Getting
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 than things. To catch the real meaning of the “spirit of Christmas,” we need only drop the last syllable, and it becomes the “Spirit of Christ.”
When we have the spirit of Christmas, we remember Him whose birth we commemorate at this season of the year. We contemplate that first Christmas day, foretold by the prophets of old. You, with me, recall the words from Isaiah: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel”4—meaning “God with us.”
On the American continent, the prophets said: “The time cometh, and is not far distant, that with power, the Lord Omnipotent … shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay. … He shall suffer temptations, and pain. … And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”
Then came that night of nights when the shepherds were abiding in the fields and the angel of the Lord appeared to them, announcing the birth of the Savior. Later, Wise Men journeyed from the East to Jerusalem, “Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. …
“When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.”
Times change; years speed by; but Christmas continues sacred. In this marvelous dispensation of the fulness of times, our opportunities to give of ourselves are indeed limitless, but they are also perishable. There are hearts to gladden. There are kind words to say. There are gifts to be given. There are deeds to be done. There are souls to be saved.
Thomas S. Monson, “The Best Christmas Ever,” Liahona, Dec 2008, 2–6
My Christmas Treasury of Books
At this time of the year my family knows that I will read again my Christmas treasury of books and ponder the wondrous words of the authors. First will be the Gospel of Luke—even the Christmas story. This will be followed by A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and, finally, The Mansion by Henry Van Dyke.
I always must wipe my eyes when reading these inspired writings. They touch my inner soul, as they will yours.
Wrote Dickens, “I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round— … as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.”
In his classic A Christmas Carol, Dickens’s now converted character, Ebenezer Scrooge, declares at last: “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.”
Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ—He who was burdened with “sorrows, and acquainted with grief” —speaks to every troubled heart and bestows the gift of peace: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
Thomas S. Monson, “The Gifts of Christmas,” Ensign, Dec 2003, 2–5
What Did You Give For Christmas?
“What did you get for Christmas?” This is the universal question among children for days following that most celebrated holiday of the year. A small girl might reply, “I received a doll, a new dress, and a fun game.” A boy might respond, “I received a pocketknife, a train, and a truck with lights.” Newly acquired possessions are displayed and admired as Christmas day dawns, then departs.
The gifts so acquired are fleeting. Dolls break, dresses wear out, and fun games become boring. Pocketknives are lost, trains do nothing but go in circles, and trucks are abandoned when the batteries that power them dim and die.
If we change but one word in our Christmas question, the outcome is vastly different. “What did you give for Christmas?” prompts stimulating thought, causes tender feelings to well up and memory’s fires to glow ever brighter.
Someone has appropriately said, “We make a living by what we get, but we build a life by what we give.”
Thomas S. Monson, “Christmas Gifts, Christmas Blessings,” New Era, Dec 1986, 4
Christmas Is Prophecy Fulfilled
On the eve of His birth, the voice of the Lord came unto Nephi, saying, “Lift up your head and be of good cheer; for behold, the time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world, to show unto the world that I will fulfil all that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouth of my holy prophets.”
What did the holy prophets of old declare? Isaiah, more than 700 years before the birth of Christ, prophesied, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
On the American continent, King Benjamin said: “For behold, the time cometh, and is not far distant, that with power, the Lord Omnipotent … shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay. … He shall suffer temptations, and pain. … And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary.”
Then came that night of nights when the shepherds were abiding in the fields and the angel of the Lord appeared to them, announcing: “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy. … For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”
The shepherds with haste went to the manger to pay honor to Christ the Lord. Later, wise men journeyed from the East to Jerusalem, saying: “Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. … When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.”
Since that time, the spirit of giving gifts has been present in the mind of each Christian as he or she commemorates the Christmas season. Our Heavenly Father gave to us His Son, Jesus Christ. That precious Son gave to us His life, the Atonement, and victory over the grave.
What will you and I give for Christmas this year? Let us in our lives give to our Lord and Savior the gift of gratitude by living His teachings and following in His footsteps. It was said of Him that He “went about doing good.” As we do likewise, the Christmas spirit will be ours.
Thomas S. Monson, “What Is Christmas?,” Liahona, Dec 1998, 3