Sarah Sanders is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (inadvertently called by friends of other faiths as the “Mormon Church”) and student at Brigham Young University studying Communications.
Celebrating Christmas as a Latter-day Saint (“Mormon”)
Once the snow begins to fall, the decorations begin to come up, and most of all the Christmas songs begin to play, I just can’t help but walk around with a smile on my face. Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. But as I wondered why I love this holiday so much, I realized some of the different reasons Christmas has become so special to me throughout my life and how it has brought me closer to my Savior, Jesus Christ.
It has always been that way, ever since I was little. I believe I grew to love Christmas first because of my mother. When you are a young child it’s common to often turn to your parent’s opinions to form your own, which is exactly what I did. My mom knew the words to every Bing Crosby song and consistently played the Carpenter’s Christmas Album every year. I could see it in her eyes when she went down to the storage closet to bring out the decorations. Her excitement has caused me to still feel those butterflies in my stomach when I go to turn on her same Christmas music in my home today.
But as a little Latter-day Saint (Mormon) child, Christmas music and decorating wasn’t the only thing that I dreamed about at night. My older sister Jessica was sure to fill me in on the magical idea of Santa Clause. She told me about the North Pole, and read to me The Night before Christmas. Weeks before the big day we would make lists of the most desired presents which we hoped that Santa would bring. Walking through the toy stores filled us with excitement and new ideas to add to that growing wish list. That night was the hardest to go to sleep for we were too anxious about what we might find the next morning.
Reflecting on Jesus Christ
As I grew a little bit older, and although still feeling these exact emotions around Christmas time, I began to realize why I truly loved Christmas. This was a time to remember the birth of my Savior–Jesus Christ. I recognized him as the light of the world, and how every Christmas was an opportunity and blessing to remember that special event. I realized this idea wasn’t as foreign to me as I looked back on past Christmases. I began to think about the times that stood out to me most.
I remember when I was just a little girl my favorite part of decorating our house was the job of putting up different nativity sets. This has still remained so special to me, but even as a young girl I knew of its significance. I remember holding the baby Jesus in my hands softly as my mom would teach me that He was a gift to us from our Heavenly Father.
I remember every year on Christmas Eve, my Latter-day Saint (Mormon) family gathering costumes to act out the Nativity as we read the story from the scriptures. Hunter, the only boy in the family, always played the role of Joseph but Mary would consistently change. I vividly remember one year, when I could only have been about eight or nine, it was my turn to play the part. As I placed the shawl over my head and cradled the baby Jesus I looked at my reflection in the mirror. I thought about Mary, and what she would have been feeling or thinking as she held Christ in her hands. Although just a babe now, he would be the one to save the world. I felt gratitude towards her as well as for Jesus Christ. He had come to this earth just like me, yet sacrificed so much. These memories helped me realize how Christ has been a very important part of my life ever since I can remember.
A Latter-day Saint (“Mormon”) Apostle of the Lord, Henry B. Eyring spoke on Christ as the greatest gift we can possibly receive. He explained how Christ came to us in humble birth, healed the sick, taught those who rejected him, gave his life and rose to break the bands of death. But above all, he paid the price for all of our sins.
President Eyring said, “The celebration of Christmas helps us to keep his promise to always remember him and his gifts to us. This creates a desire to give gifts to him.” He then explained three gifts that we could give back to our Savior.
1. A broken heart and contrite spirit. He loves us, and desires that we would but repent and come back to him.
2. Doing good to others as he would do for them. Each act of kindness to someone becomes an act of kindness to him.
3. To point those we love and serve toward him, the only source of eternal life. The witness of our Savior is the most precious gift we could ever give.
As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (inadvertently called by the media, “The Mormon Church,” my family has strived to live these principles. I have learned that without him in my life I feel especially alone. It is when I am humble enough to turn to him that I feel his pure love. Because Christ’s gift of the Atonement is for all men who will accept it, it is our obligation to share that message to everyone. Once it is recognized that he has provided a chance to change, accepting his love and following him will lead people to become what they are intended to be.
An LDS Apostle of the Lord, President Thomas S. Monson said, “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. Let us in our lives give to our Lord and Savior the gift of gratitude by living His teachings and following in His footsteps.”
Christmas is an important time to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as they remember the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ.