Christmas memories: 'What did you give for Christmas?'

"What did you get for Christmas?" is a question that will be asked often in the days ahead. President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, has suggested that one word be changed in that question: " 'What did you give for Christmas?' prompts stimulating thought, causes tender feelings to well up and memory' fires to glow ever brighter," he said.

President Monson has witnessed this on many occasions. One was in the 1950s. He was just 22 1/2 years old when he was called to preside as bishop of the Sixth-Seventh Ward in Salt Lake City. The ward had 1,060 members, with perhaps 85 widows, many with limited means.

President Monson recalled one particular Christmas during the time he served as bishop:

"All the year long, the boys in the deacons quorum had saved and planned for a glorious Christmas party. They were thinking of themselves, until the Christmas Spirit prompted them to think of others. Frank, as their leader, suggested to his companions that the funds they had saved so carefully be used not for the planned party, but rather for the benefit of three elderly widows who resided together.

"The boys made their plans. As their bishop, I needed but to follow. With the enthusiasm of a new adventure, the boys purchased a giant roasting chicken, the potatoes, the vegetables, the cranberries and all that comprises the traditional Christmas feast. To the widows' home they went, carrying their gifts of treasure. Through the snow and up the path to the tumbledown porch they came. A knock at the door, the sound of slow footsteps, and then they met.

"In the unmelodic voices characteristic of 13-year-olds, the boys sang: 'Silent night, holy night; all is calm, all is bright.' They then presented their gifts. Angels on that glorious night of long ago sang no more beautifully, nor did Wise Men present gifts of greater meaning.

"I gazed at the faces of those wonderful women and thought to myself, 'Somebody's mother.' I then looked on the countenances of those noble boys and reflected, 'Somebody's son.'

"Not one of those boys ever forgot that precious pilgrimage. Christmas gifts had become Christmas blessings."

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