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Music and the Spoken Word: The true meaning of Christmas

Editor's note: “The Spoken Word” is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square broadcast. This will be given Dec. 2, 2018.

What does Christmas mean to you? One couple learned something about the meaning of Christmas several years ago when, the day after Christmas, their infant son passed away. Each year since that tragic event, they have placed a Christmas stocking by the fireplace in his memory.

The couple has also made it a tradition to go to the cemetery at Christmastime to visit their son’s grave. Every time they do, they discover that someone has already been there and has placed something special on the baby’s small grave: some flowers, a stuffed animal, a little toy. They tried for years to discover who the good-hearted giver could be; they asked family and friends, but no one would admit to leaving the gifts.

One year, heavy snowstorms made travelling difficult, and the couple was unable to visit the grave until several days later than usual. When they finally did make it to the cemetery, they were surprised to find on the grave a small, decorated Christmas tree, covered with snow. The couple was deeply moved; someone still cared so much about their grief and loss that they were willing to brave the snowstorms to show their compassion.

This couple never found out who this caring person was, and they have decided to stop investigating. The benevolent giver, after all, wanted to remain anonymous. So instead, they try to treat everyone as if he or she might be “the giver.” Their need to thank their unidentified friend has been replaced with a desire to simply live better. Now they pause to examine their hearts a little more, and they ask: Why do we give? Are we hoping to be praised or recognized, or do we give because we love, because we care?

For them, the true meaning of Christmas is symbolized by a little Christmas tree, “half-buried in snow, resting in a quiet cemetery." It reminds them of the great gifts so abundant in this joyous season: pure love, compassion, kindheartedness. It brings to mind the greatest gift of love, given to the world some 2,000 years ago. Such gifts are what give Christmas its deepest meaning.

Read the full story in the December 2008 issue of the Ensign.

Tuning in …

The “Music and the Spoken Word” broadcast is available on KSL-TV, KSL Radio 1160 AM/102.7 FM, ksl.com, KSL X-stream, BYU-TV, BYU Radio, BYU-TV International, CBS Radio Network, Dish Network, DirecTV, SiriusXM Radio (Channel 143) and on the Tabernacle Choir's website and YouTube channel. The program is aired live on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. on many of these outlets. Look up broadcast information by state and city at musicandthespokenword.org.

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