During this holiday season, the carols of Christmas fill the air. They are played in shopping malls, on radio stations, in the work place and are sung by carolers and in churches worldwide. The carols give us pause to reflect on God's gift to us: His Son. They remind us as we go about our daily routines that God has given us His ultimate gift — a way to return to His presence through the life of His Only Begotten Son.
This gospel message is not confined only to the Christmas season, but is reinforced at Christmas time, when holiday festivities and good will abound. It helps us reflect on the true meaning of those sacred words. If the carols of Christmas can help us forget ourselves — at least for a few weeks in December — and help us concentrate on the needs of others, then the season has been a success.
President David O. McKay remarked, "Why not be happy throughout the whole year and every year? To do this, let us supplant the spirit of getting from others by the spirit of giving; the spirit of selfishness by the spirit of helpfulness. Let us add the little word up to giving and make it giving up. What a different world this will be when men and women everywhere will strive to give up mean, petty, selfish, sordid, uncharitable feelings and attitudes, and replace them by kindness, friendliness, forbearance and sympathy and mutual helpfulness. When that day comes, the angels will again sing: 'Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace, good will toward men' " (Pathways to Happiness, p. 30.)
President McKay's words echo the carol by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow about Christmas bells:
There is no peace on earth, I said,
For hate is strong and mocks the song
of peace on earth, good will to men.
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men (Hymns, No. 214)
To the world, at this time, we need the hope the Christmas story gives — the story of Christ's birth foretold in scripture, verified by angels to shepherds and the divine mission that lay ahead for Him.
Modern-day scripture reminds us: "To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world. To others it is given to believe on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful" (Doctrine and Covenants 46: 13-14).
We can use the words of Christmas carols and the words of our leaders to reinforce the testimony of the Savior's divine mission on our behalf.
President Gordon B. Hinckley has said, "How poor indeed would be our lives without the influence of His teachings and His matchless example. The lessons of the turning of the other cheek, going the second mile, the return of the prodigal, and scores of other incomparable teachings have filtered down the ages to become the catalyst to bring kindness and mercy out of much of man's inhumanity to man. Brutality reigns where Christ is banished. Kindness and forbearance govern where Christ is recognized and His teachings are followed" (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, p. 59).
As we celebrate the holiday season, let us reflect upon the message of our leaders and the carols of Christmas, and truly remain thankful for God's precious gift to all of us.