Real meaning of season comes in lending helping hand
BY TERRI FLETCHER
FT. MYERS, FLA.
I have always had a desire to be dose 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 birih. 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 babysit 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 ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye 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 came to pick up her little ones she 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 "Christ-masy." 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 do I 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.
Terri Fletcher, her husband Don and their five children are members of the Ft Myers 1st Ward, Ft Myers Florida Stake. She is on the ward activities committee and teaches the family relations class in Sunday School.
Keeping Baby Warm
by Lynda H. Laughlin
It was an inexpensive dime-store Nativity set, and he was only three years old. His back was toward me, but I could see that his chubby little hands were busily working on something at the old table.
"What are you doing?" I asked him impatiently, annoyed at him for touching the decorations after he had been told not to.
As I started toward the scene of his latest mischief, he turned toward me with wide blue eyes filling and a single tear starting down his cherubic cheek. Then I saw it. a carefully folded tissue had been tenderly placed over the small ceramic infant.
"Baby Jesus was cold. Mommy," he whispered.
Ten years have passed, and the tiny Nativity has been replaced by a much larger one. But this year, as every year, I found a carefully folded tissue covering the baby Jesus. I think I know who did it, and I hope he never stops.
TONIGHT HE IS YOURS
Tonight He is yours, Mary.
For this is the hour of His birth.
Count His little toes one by one -
A million mothers have counted newborn baby toes,
A million times before.
Marvel at His baby feet.
Tomorrow He will walk the shores of Galilee,
And there's a long hard hill ahead to climb called Calvary
But tonight He is yours.
See Him curl His tiny fingers around your own.
Out in the darkness of the night.
The deaf, the sick and blind await his touch -
But tonight His little hands are yours, alone.
Tenderly trace the outline of His lips.
Tomorrow flow the words of Life Eternal.
The world awaits the story of the lillies -
But baby lips were made to be caressed.
Touch His birth-wet hair and,
Kiss His soft, warm baby cheek.
Tomorrow the crushing multitudes will
Press and push and reach to
Touch the hem of His garment -
But tonight He is yours.
Hold Him, oh so close, to your heart.
Tomorrow He must be about His Father's business,
And all the world is waiting for salvation.
But tonight He is —
Listen! Can you hear the angels singing?
And look! The star's already shining.
Wrap Him in swadling clothes, Mary,
And lay Him in the manger
For shepherd will be knocking at your door.
-Leotha Wade Slagowski-