I have always loved Christmas. When I was a child I loved to decorate the tree with my mom, bake cookies for Santa, and to wake up to all the gifts on Christmas morning! Now that I am an adult, Christmas has changed to mean something more.
Growing up in a family active in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, my parents always made sure we understood that as fun as it was to celebrate the idea of Santa Claus and give gifts, what we were really remembering was the birth of our Savior. A tradition of our families was to recite the “symbols of the season.”
The star on top of the tree was to represent that Christ is the shining hope of all mankind, the light of the world. The evergreen tree is a symbol of life. Just as the trees never lose their green color, Christ also will never lose His life through His resurrection and consequent triumph over death. The companion color to green during the Christmas season is red. Red is a symbol of the blood Christ freely gave to suffer for the sins of all who lived, are living, and will yet live.
We adorn our homes with bells. Shepherds of old used bells to call back their lost sheep, just as Christ beckons to His lost sheep to come unto him and have everlasting life. In my house, Santa would “candy cane” the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve; but, candy canes help us to remember the shepherd’s staff that could bring in a straying sheep, so that we may know our responsibility is to bring in Christ’s straying sheep today.
Finally the last symbol of the season is a Christmas Wreath. Wreaths are hung on doors to let our friends know that happiness and love are in the inside of our home. Just as a wreath has no beginning or end, it is through Christ that our lives may be eternal and more importantly eternal with our families.
Matthew recorded in his gospel:
But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us (Matthew 1:20-23.)
I have had time to reflect on the meaning of the name “Emmanuel.” Why would his
name be interpreted as the phrase “God with us”? Jesus Christ truly was born of a mortal mother and a Heavenly Father. He had the powers given Him from His Father to heal, cast out devils, raise the dead, and ultimately make the sacrifice that would “save his people from their sins.”
Because of this sacrifice, God made it possible for His children to never be alone. Today we feel God is with us through the Holy Ghost. It is no wonder that during this time of celebration at the birth of Christ that hearts are softened. People are kinder, more forgiving, happier, etc. As the book of Galatians states:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23.)
Just as those who were present at the birth of Christ felt these gifts, we too feel them as we focus not on the material pleasures of the season, but on the spiritual gift of having God with us, even our Savior Jesus Christ.
This article was written by Joy Nardini, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Joy takes a logical, no-nonsense approach to life and is passionate about the gospel of Jesus Christ, Joy enjoys long-boarding and Sudoku. Raised in Woodland, CA, she earned her undergraduate degree in Nutrition & Food at California State University. After graduating, Joy served for 18-months as a missionary in the Washington DC North mission, and DC Temple Visitors’ Center. After returning home, she moved with her family to the Mesa, AZ valley. A blessing associated both with her missionary service and relocation to Arizona was finding an awesome man to marry, whom she can’t really complain about, even when she tries. Currently, she is working as a seminary teacher seeking to help fortify youth in the Church as they apply the gospel to their life.