The birth of Jesus Christ occurred nearly two millennia ago on a cool, early spring night in Bethlehem. Few if any of the sleepy inhabitants in the town of His nativity were either aware or accommodating to the needs surrounding His birth. Instead, the Savior of mankind was born in a stable and placed in a manger wrapped in strips of cloth to keep him comfort. His birth was announced by angels to select groups of people around the world, but there was little notice in the sleepy town of Bethlehem.
The scriptures mark the Savior’s birth throughout the world. The inhabitants of the American continents celebrated as the sign was shown of His birth (Helaman 14:3-8). Those shepherds, whom were visited by angels, came to pay homage to the Newborn King (Luke 2:8-14). Wise men from the East came bearing gifts to the prophesied Savior of Mankind (Matthew 2:1,11). These gifts, those of a loving Father in Heaven to the world of a Redeeming Son and the worldly gifts given by the Wise Men are the origin of our modern day tradition of gift-giving.
During this season of celebration and traditions it is easy to forget the origins and deep meaning this season holds in the history of the world. The birth of Jesus Christ marks the time the world was promised where a Savior would be born to bear upon Himself the sins of the world. In essence, our loving Father in Heaven reminds us at this time His gift to us is that of salvation, a way to return to Him cleansed from sin through the sacrifice of His Son. This is a gift of need, there is no other way man may return to live with God (Alma 38:9).
Gift giving is a mutual affair. Each of us enjoys receiving heart-felt gifts. As kids, a bicycle or doll may hold special memory for us. These memories and feeling do not simply come from the object itself, but what the object represents. The gift, given in love reminds us that there is someone who cares about us and seeks to bring us happiness. Over time, some gifts may dim or diminish in importance but the feelings and memories remain with us. The effects of these gifts of want may remain with us our entire lives but satisfy only immediate or short term desires.
As pleasing as it to receive gifts, we may also experience the joy related to giving gifts. Gifts given in love do not equate to a price tag or shiny wrappings. Instead, a gift of love may satisfy a need or want for someone we love. In this way we receive in some small measure they joy felt by our Father in Heaven (Mosiah 2:17-18).
During this season rich with tradition and symbolism remember the gifts freely given to us. Unable to save ourselves, each of us need a Savior who could live on this Earth and atone for our sins. That gift was given when an infant was born in a manger, on a cold starry night many centuries ago. As we celebrate the birth of the Savior and remember the symbols of gifts given to Him, may we never allow the gifts of want to take precedence in our pursuits this season.
Our blessings and prayers are with you this season. We hope you will enjoy all the blessings a loving Father in Heaven has for you as you receive and share the richness with which He has blessed you.