By Kari Diane Pike
What I do remember about Christmas during my childhood is the anticipation. The closer the big day came, the longer time took to pass. I thought Christmas would never arrive. Mom would tell us that the sooner we went to bed, the sooner the next day would get here. Going to bed was easy. Falling asleep, not so much.
I wanted to go to sleep. I really did. But I wasn't tired. So I threw the bed covers off and stretched out on my back. I kicked my legs as hard and fast as I could, hoping to tire myself out. Mom would hear all the activity and yell at me to settle down. I could see the Christmas tree lights glowing through the curtains hanging over the French doors that separated my bedroom from the living room, so I started counting how many times the green lights flashed, then the white ones, then the red ones. Lights turned to stars and the next thing I knew, it was Christmas morning.
I also remember wishing that every day could be Christmas and how I expressed that thought out loud. One grown up who heard my wish crushed my heart when he told me that if every day were Christmas, then no one would care any more and then there would never be Christmas again. My adult self understands what that person tried to teach, but I still remember how sad I felt at his words.
The more mature me has learned that I can make my childhood wish come true. Every day can be Christmas when I remember Jesus Christ and follow in His footsteps. Every day that I choose right over wrong, defend the weak, mourn with those who mourn, and comfort a weary heart, I give a gift to Christ.
Through the years, our children have asked, "Mom, what do you want for Christmas?" My number one wish has always been, "I want my children to be happy."
3 John 1:4 - "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth."
This scripture expresses my heart's desire. When I see my children and grandchildren walk in truth and light I know that no matter what circumstances they might find themselves facing, my children can feel joy and peace in their hearts and live "after the manner of happiness."
I know how much joy the gospel has brought to my life. It's the kind of joy that sustains me through tough times and opens my eyes to the Lord's tender mercies. The light of the gospel shows me how to truly be happy. Heavenly Father gave us His Only Begotten Son who gave us the greatest gift of all.
Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He lived on the earth. He performed miracles. He loved. He suffered, bled and died, just for you and me. And then He rose again. He broke the bands of death so that we, too, might one day live again and return to live in our Father's presence. Gordon B. Hinckley taught, "There would be no Christmas if there had not been Easter."
I hope all of you find peace and joy this Christmas and throughout the coming year. Life truly is magnificent - but we have to decide to make it that way.