The following has been one of my favorite Christmas readings for more than a dozen years.  It is a timeless gem taken from the writings of Spencer W. Kimball (1895-1985), the 12th president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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Christmastime is a glorious time of happy friendliness and unselfish Spencer_W._Kimball3sacrifice; a time of increased hospitality, devotion, and love; a time of the subduing of selfish impulses; a time of renewing friendships, cementing loosening ties, and the swelling of the heart.  It transcends the individual, the family, the community, the nation; it approaches the universal, crosses borders, and touches many nations of the earth.  Our caroling voices sing the sweet songs of Christmas reminiscent somewhat of the host of heavenly angelic voices in the long ago, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

We set up the evergreen tree with its gleaming, brightly colored lights; we hang wreaths and bells; and we light candles – all to remind us of that wondrous gift, the coming of our Lord into the world of mortality.

We send Christmas cards to numerous friends and relatives, pulling back into happy memories the loved ones who have moved out of our immediate association. Like the wise men who opened their treasury and presented to Jesus gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh, we present to our loved ones things to eat and wear and enjoy.

Though we make an effort to follow the pattern of gift giving, sometimes our program becomes an exchange – gift given for gift expected.

Never did the Savior give in expectation. I know of no case in His life in which there was an exchange. He was always the giver, seldom the recipient. Never did He give shoes, hose, or a vehicle; never did He give perfume, a shirt, or a fur wrap. His gifts were of such a nature that the recipient could hardly exchange or return the value.

His gifts were rare ones: eyes to the blind, ears to the deaf, and legs to the lame; cleanliness to the unclean, wholeness to the infirm, and breath to the lifeless. His gifts were opportunity to the downtrodden, freedom to the oppressed, light in the darkness, forgiveness to the repentant, hope to the despairing. His friends gave Him shelter, food, and love. He gave them of Himself, His love, His service, His life. The wise men brought Him gold and frankincense. He gave them and all their fellow mortals resurrection, salvation, and eternal life.

We should strive to give as He gave. To give of oneself is a holy gift.

He whose birthday we celebrate is the Son of God, the Eternal Father. In him is all majesty and power. No life is comparable to his. He stands alone on the pinnacle of all that is holy and good and righteous and exemplary. My heart is filled with joy to know that he marked for us the plan, the way of life, whereby if we are faithful we may someday see him and express our gratitude personally for his perfect life and his sacrifice for us…

We can do nothing more to show our love for him than to give our ourselves in a silent, quiet, loving way. This, the gift of self, is the highest gift of all.

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Brief biographies of Spencer W. Kimball can be found here and here.