Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Christmas Spirit

Today I taught in Relief Society. Being a member of the presidency I get to pick my topic when I teach and since it is December and all I went with a Christmas theme.

There is so much to Christmas and so much that can be covered that at first I was overwhelmed. BUT as I read story after story I couldn't help but think that knowing WHAT the Christmas Spirit is and HOW we can have the Christmas spirit would make this Christmas so much better. :o)

So, two things. FIRST I want to share part of my lesson with you. There is a story that President Thomas S. Monson has shared on a few occasions that really struck home for me, it goes like this:



Many years ago I read of an experience at Christmastime which took place when thousands of weary travelers were stranded in the congested Atlanta, Georgia, airport. An ice storm had seriously delayed air travel as these people were trying to get wherever they most wanted to be for Christmas—most likely home.
It happened in December of 1970. As the midnight hour tolled, unhappy passengers clustered around the ticket counters conferring anxiously with agents whose cheerfulness had long since evaporated.  They too wanted to be home. A few people managed to doze in uncomfortable seats. Others gathered at the newsstands to thumb silently through paperback books. If there was a common bond among this diverse throng it was loneliness: pervasive, inescapable, suffocating loneliness.




The fact of the matter was that there were more passengers than there were available seats on any of the planes. When an occasional plane managed to break out, more passengers stayed behind than made it aboard.




Gate 67 in Atlanta was a microcosm of the whole cavernous airport. Scarcely more than a glassed-in cubicle, it was jammed with travelers hoping to fly to New Orleans, Dallas, and points west. Except for the fortunate few traveling in pairs, there was little conversation at gate 67. A salesman stared absently into space as if resigned. A young mother cradled an infant in her arms, gently rocking in a vain effort to soothe the soft whimpering.




Then there was a man in a finely-tailored gray flannel suit, who somehow seemed impervious to the collective suffering. There was a certain indifference about his manner. He was absorbed in paperwork: figuring the year-end corporate profits perhaps. A nerve-frayed traveler sitting nearby observing this busy man might have identified him as an Ebenezer Scrooge.




Suddenly the relative silence was broken by a commotion. A young man in military uniform, no more than 19 years old, was in animated conversation with the desk agent. The boy held a low-priority ticket. He pleaded with the agent to help him get to New Orleans so that he could take the bus to the obscure Louisiana village he called home.




The agent wearily told him that prospects were poor for the next 24 hours, maybe longer. The boy grew frantic. Immediately after Christmas, his unit was to be sent to Vietnam—where at that time war was raging—and if he didn’t make this flight, he might never again spend Christmas at home. Even the businessman looked up from his cryptic computations to show a guarded interest. The agent clearly was moved, even a bit embarrassed. But he could only offer sympathy, not hope. The boy stood at the departure desk casting anxious looks around the crowded room, as if seeking just one friendly face.




Finally the agent announced that the flight was ready for boarding. The travelers who had been waiting long hours heaved themselves up, gathered their belongings, and shuffled down the small corridor to the waiting aircraft: 20, 30, 100, until there were no more seats. The agent turned to the frantic young soldier and shrugged.




Inexplicably, the businessman had lingered behind. Now he stepped forward. “I have a confirmed ticket,” he quietly told the agent. “I’d like to give my seat to this young man.” The agent stared incredulously; then he motioned to the soldier. Unable to speak, tears streaming down his face, the boy in olive drab shook hands with the man in the gray flannel suit, who simply murmured, “Good luck. Have a fine Christmas. Good luck.”




As the plane door closed and the engines began their rising whine, the businessman turned away, clutching his briefcase and trudged toward the all-night restaurant.


No more than a few among the thousands stranded there at the Atlanta airport witnessed the drama at gate 67. But for those who did, the sullenness, the frustration, the hostility all dissolved into a glow. That act of love and kindness between strangers had brought the spirit of Christmas into their hearts.

This story so perfectly shows what I feel should be the focal point of the Christmas spirit - Christ-like love. It is so hard to develop this, but when we do have the opportunity to share that love and to develop it in our hearts we will be blessed.

And SECOND I want to share with you the printable that I'm printing out for my sisters to help remind them of Christmas this year. Enjoy! :o)

CLICK HERE to download a pdf of this printable - for personal use only.

4 comments:

  1. Wow, I'm sad to see no comments here:(

    I would like to thank you for this download! :) I volunteer for Send A Smile 4 Kids. We are a group of people who collect handmade cards from around the country and deliver them to children's hospitals. I am also a card maker:) I will be using this download to make cards for one of my three hospitals.

    It's the only hospital served by our group that accepts religious cards. I know the kids there will love cards made with this download. Thank you and God Bless

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    Replies
    1. You are so welcome! I'm glad you're going to get some wonderful use out of this printable.

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  2. Beautiful story and printable. Thank you for sharing!

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  3. thank you for such a beautiful story. This year will be the first year I've centered my Christmas on Christs birth. I'd googled A Christ centered Christmas and your blog came up with this story. It was exactly what I needed. thank you for the print out. Letia

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