Real meaning of season comes in lending helping hand

I have always had a desire to be close to the Savior, but often in December – the month we celebrate His birth – was a time when I felt the least close to Him. I was too busy doing things getting ready to celebrate His birth. There simply were not enough hours in the day left to reflect upon His life, His example and what I should be doing to follow Him. That would have to come after Christmas.

However, Christmas 1985 was different. More accidentally than particularly planned for, I had my Christmas shopping completed and wrapped, packages to distant relatives mailed, baking and decorating all under control by the first week of December. It just sort of happened. Because of that, I had the time to give some meaningful service to someone truly in need. It ended up being a wonderful way for me to draw close to my Savior that December.I was able to baby sit for a family of four little children, one of them a tiny 3-month old baby, while a frantic, distraught and overwhelmed mother attended to a hospitalized child. The family emergency had come up 10 days before Christmas. I was in a position to be able to help the mother, and I felt so good tending those children. I rocked for hours that fussy nursing baby, and I felt so close to my Savior. The scripture in Mosiah 2:17 in the Book of Mormon came to my mind: "When you are in the service of your fellow beings you are only in the service of your God."

I knew that as I was rocking that child I was in the service of my God. I felt enveloped in His warm spirit. How grateful I was that I was organized and prepared for Christmas that year. If I had been my usual disorganized "December self" I would have panicked if I had been asked to tend four little ones, and one of them a new baby, so close to Christmas.

I might have done it, but I know I would not have felt spiritually strengthened from the experience. I would have felt only overburdened, maybe even resentful. Oh, but I did not feel that way at all! I felt so in tune with my Heavenly Father's spirit. I remember when the mother can to pick up her little ones she even commented on how peaceful and calm I looked. I looked that way because I felt that way.

I could only thank the mother for the wonderful, wonderful opportunity she had given me to serve her, and by so doing to draw closer to my Savior. I tried to explain that because of her I felt so "Christmasy." I felt filled with the genuine spirit of Christmas, which is loving and caring as the Savior has commanded us to do. I knew that this was the right way, the Savior's way, to be spending my December.

Since that experience I have tried – not always successfully – to be organized for Christmas before the month of December. My intent is to not be so overwhelmed and burdened with the shopping, baking, programs, parties, etc., of Christmas, but to have energy and time left to meet those unexpected service needs that others may have during December. I know that by meeting those needs we can really feel the true spirit of Christmas and emulate Him whose birthday we are celebrating.