First Presidency Christmas Devotional: Pres. Eyring describes season as one of 'finding joy'

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One Christmas, President Henry B. Eyring decided to design and build a wooden chest for his wife. To complete the project, he needed the generous help of many others who had the tools and the skills he lacked.

“I worked with them for weeks,” recalled President Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency. “I also needed the help of the Holy Ghost to discover ways to convey love and faith in the gospel in that gift.”

President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, speaks at the First Presidency Christmas Devotional.
President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, speaks at the First Presidency Christmas Devotional. Photo: Photo by Scott G. Winterton

On the lid he carved his family monogram. On the front he placed two panels — one carved with his initial, the other with his wife’s initial. The box could be unlocked only by using two different keys, one to open the lock by his initial and the other the lock by his wife’s initial.

Speaking during the First Presidency Christmas Devotional on Dec. 2, President Eyring said he and his wife now use that gift as a family treasure box. “So on the Christmas when it was under the tree, and on all the days since, seeing the box has filled our minds and hearts with love for each other and for the Savior’s sacrifice that makes eternal families possible. The box, now filled with family pictures and sheets of Christmas music, rests near the old piano in our living room. Creating that gift brought a feeling of love for family and the Master.”

President Eyring said at Christmastime Latter-day Saints celebrate their Heavenly Father’s perfect gift of His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World. “In token of this greatest of gifts, the Christmas season becomes for most of us a time of finding joy in giving to others,” he said. “You and I have learned from experience how challenging that can be.”

Success in giving joy to others usually requires help from others, he explained. “And joining your efforts with the generosity of other people both spreads the joy and makes it more lasting.”

President Henry B. Eyring
President Henry B. Eyring

President Eyring said from time to time he still sees and thanks the people who helped him create the box for his wife. “When I see them again I can feel the joy we shared in creating a gift of love for a family and a token of the love we share for the Savior,” he recalled.

Such shared joy can come from creating and offering simple gifts of love, he explained.

“For instance, many of you have helped a child to take plates of cookies to those who feel especially alone at Christmas,” he said. “To the person receiving this modest gift from a child, it can appear as precious as frankincense. And a child bringing such a gift can remind them of the magi bringing gifts from the East to the Savior. Both giver and recipient can remember Christ and feel love and gratitude.”

Young men and young women in the Church, together with their leaders, can offer gifts of love and testimony in the baptismal fonts of the temples, he said. “Having more temples closer to the young people makes that experience of giving possible for more and more of them, and more often.”

And an increasing number of missionaries participate with the Savior and their companions to offer the gift of eternal life. “With the change in age of eligibility for missionary service, many more will feel the joy of offering that priceless gift.”

Missionaries offer the Book of Mormon to everyone they meet, President Eyring explained. “It is a gift of love and a gift of testimony, created through God’s inspiration to faithful prophets over centuries. The Savior needed these prophets’ help to create gifts of testimony in the Book of Mormon, and He needs the missionaries’ help to share it.”

Families also offer priceless gifts of love and testimony at Christmastime through music as well as words, he added. “As a young boy, I would gather with my family around our ‘Winkler’ piano, now more than 100 years old and badly out of tune. That piano rests in our living room, near the treasure chest. ... The music filled our small home with a spirit of peace. I could feel not only the love of my mother and father and two brothers, but of my Heavenly Father and the Savior Jesus Christ.”

President Eyring said he sensed the love he felt then was something he had experienced before this life in the spirit world.

“I wanted more than anything else to feel it someday in a home of my own. And I wanted to live so that I could return with a family of my own to our heavenly home, where I knew Heavenly Father and the Savior would be waiting.”

He said when he sees the treasure box and that piano, memories of love, of family, and love from the Savior flood back to him.

“It is my prayer that the Spirit will bless us, this Christmas and in the years to come, with the power to offer others gifts of love and of the testimony of Jesus Christ and His restored gospel,” President Eyring said. “I know that the Spirit can lead each of us in many and simple ways to give love, faith and joy to others at this season of rejoicing.

“I testify that Jesus Christ was the literal Son of God and the Savior of the world. He was the perfect gift from our loving Father. At this and every season, our Savior invites us to join with Him and others to offer the priceless gift of joy.”

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