Church leaders have shared some of their most touching memories of Christmas on social media lately. Reflecting on the birth of the Savior, Church leaders bore their testimonies of eternal families, the Atonement of Jesus Christ and being a light to others this Christmas season.
President Dallin H. Oaks shared a Christmas memory in a recent post on Instagram on Dec. 20. As a boy, President Oaks said he had the opportunity to deliver Christmas baskets to widows in his ward with his bishop in Vernal, Utah. Just as he was going home, the bishop gave a young Dallin H. Oaks a basket to give to his mother.
President Oaks shared how that the concept of his mother being a widow was new to him. That Christmas, he said, was “formative in my understanding of the eternal family and in my appreciation for the faith of my mother. She always taught us that we had a father and she had a husband and that we would always be a family because of their temple marriage.”
Reflecting on Christmases when he was a boy, President Henry B. Eyring said that his family was not able to afford much by way of presents. But his family did have a piano, and singing carols and hymns together left a lasting impression that has taught him about the joy of eternal families.
“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,” he said in a Dec. 13 Instagram post. “I sensed that love I felt then was something I 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.”
Years ago, Elder David A. Bednar said he met a woman whose husband was killed in Iraq in 2003. After she heard of her husband’s death, she received his Christmas card that gave her the comfort she needed during her time of loss, according to a Dec. 17 post on the Apostle's Instagram page.
“‘The Lord has made it possible for us to be together forever,’” the card read. “‘So even when we are apart, we will still be together as a family.’”
In a Dec. 19 Instagram post, Elder Neil L. Andersen said that while he was serving as a mission president in France in 1990, he and his family nearly didn’t make it home for Christmas when their car broke down. But after his daughter suggested the family pray, the Andersens came to an inn where there was an innkeeper who was willing to do whatever it took to make sure the family could make it home in time for Christmas.
“At a time when only He could bring us home, He had heard our prayers,” Elder Andersen testified. “May you feel His love as you celebrate the Savior’s birth this Christmas.”
During Christmastime, Elder Ronald A. Rasband said he especially misses his grandson Paxton, who only lived for three months. In memory of his grandson, Elder Rasband related in a Dec. 12 Instagram post how his sister made a quilt that featured 26 different names of Jesus Christ on the fabric. The quilt was donated and auctioned for a children’s hospital in Paxton’s name.
Since then, Elder Rasband said he has made a study of the names of the Savior — so far, he has discovered more than 200 of them. Those names include, “Alpha and Omega,” “Counselor,” and “Deliverer.”
Quoting Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women,” Elder Dale G. Renlund shared on Instagram on Dec. 19 how Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without the Savior, and how, as the character Jo March has said, “Families are the most beautiful thing in the world.”
Sharing the story of his parents' conversion to the gospel, Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained how the light of Christ can be shared from one person to another in an Instagram post on Dec. 19.
In his post, Elder Soares told of his aunt, who was the first in his family to be baptized and who then shared the gospel continually with his parents. Although that same aunt eventually became inactive in the Church, he said it was her goodness and persistence in sharing the light of Christ with his parents that led to their eventual conversion.
"One of the missionaries who baptized my parents recently shared with me that after their baptism, my parents began to invite our neighbors to hear the missionary lessons in our house and that some of them were baptized," he said in the post. "Thus, in similar fashion, my parents repeated what my aunt had done previously — they brought light to the lives of others, sharing the gospel with them."
Sister Sharon Eubank, first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, encouraged members to not be afraid to invite others to Church in a Facebook post on Dec. 18. Sharing the challenge issued by President Nelson to invite a friend to Church, Sister Eubank said that the special one hour, pre-Christmas Sacrament meeting is the perfect opportunity to do so.
"I know many people’s thoughts turn toward Jesus Christ at this time of year. They seek for the sacred feelings they felt as a child or at other times in their lives. Those feelings are about friendship and acceptance and the assurance that God is alive and loves us all. Some hearts long to feel that way again if only they knew what would bring it," Sister Eubank said in the post. "Take heart, take a big breath, and invite a friend or person you admire to Christmas sacrament meeting on December 23. Together we will feel 'the wonders of His love.'"
Sister Reyna I. Aburto, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, shared a Christmas reminder to "Light your Family" with the gospel of Jesus Christ in a Facebook post on Dec. 20.
"One of the greatest gifts I have ever received was the gift of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Church and its teachings came at a time in which I needed direction and support from a loving Heavenly Father. My conversion to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints brought me the understanding and gratitude that I have now," Sister Aburto said in the post.
In a Dec. 17 Facebook post, Sister Michelle D. Craig, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency, shared a reminder to "Light our Families," during the Christmas season. Detailing a family tradition to express love for individual family members during their family dinners, Sister Craig noted that expressing love for one another through words and actions is one of the best ways to "Light our Families."
"I challenge you to find the opportunities to light your family this week by sincerely telling each of them that you love them and WHY," Sister Craig said in the post. "After all, every person, no matter their age, needs to hear that they are loved and valued."
It is easy to get distracted and worn out at Christmastime with everything that goes on during the season, Sister Becky Craven, second counselor in the Young Women general presidency, shared in a Facebook post on Dec. 19. The post was a reminder to refocus on the Savior and invite others to do the same.
Reminding all that the Christmas season provides wonderful opportunities to give to others through one's time, talents and resources, the Facebook account of Sister Lisa L. Harkness, first counselor in the Primary general presidency shared details of her recent trip to Guatemala in a Dec. 13 post. In the post, Sister Harkness noted that watching Church members minister to one another has been a reminder of how all can #LightTheWorld in their own communities.
"I am grateful for the examples of these wonderful saints and have reflected on ways I can light my own community," the post read. "What plans do you and your family have to light your community this Christmas season?"