Christmas memories: Love found during search for star

MIRATEJO, Portugal — Every year, always on Dec. 1, our family decorates the Christmas tree. It is an activity that fills us with joy and pleasure and brings anticipation to the children, who are excited for the Christmas season, the gifts, the sweets, the family gatherings.

As always, it fell to Grandfather to place the star at the top of the tree. It was a large gold star, and brought to mind that star which guided the wise men in their journey to Bethlehem. This year would be no different.

But it was. This year was very different. The beautiful star could not be found. Everyone searched, but no one could find it. The house was turned upside down and the star did not appear.

Then I noticed that someone was missing — someone who normally helped Grandfather with the star. It was my 4-year-old son, Luis, who was missing. I went to look for him, and found him in his bedroom, sitting on the floor with a very thoughtful attitude.

"So, Luis, what are you doing?" I asked.

As there was no response, I asked again, "What are you doing Luis? Don't you want to help us find the star for the Christmas tree? We're all looking for it."

Luis raised his head and his eyes looked into mine. Tears began to roll down his cheeks. He wrapped his arms around my neck and began to cry even more.

"Papa," he stammered, "I did it. I did it."

"You did what?" I asked.

"I took the star."

"You took the star where?"

Luis, still sobbing, tried to explain.

"I gave it . . . to a friend of mine . . . . He told me they wouldn't have any presents, or sweets, or a Christmas tree . . . they didn't have food . . . and I thought that beautiful star could cheer up his family."

My eyes couldn't contain the tears, and I hugged Luis against my chest. "You did the right thing, Luis. You did the right thing. We will buy another star and we will invite your friend and his family to spend Christmas with us."

"Papa, that will be very nice. They will like that a lot, won't they? Thank you, Papa. After all, the star isn't lost, is it?"

"No, Luis. The star is not lost. Now it is shining even more, much more."

Carlos Santos is a member of the Miratejo Ward, Setubal Portugal Stake; courtesy Clementina Nogueira.

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