Thursday, December 11, 2014

Gifts Beyond Christmas


Gifts smI’ve always enjoyed Christmas — giving is such a joy. I spend a significant amount of pondering what to give my wife and children. I’ve always enjoyed Christmas — giving is such a joy. I spend a significant amount of pondering what to give my wife and children. One year is particularly memorable because of the happy circumstance that allowed me to help my wife and daughter give presents to each other that they both would have loved for themselves. Here’s what happened:

One November my wife excitedly called me and said she had found the perfect gift for our youngest daughter but wanted my opinion as to which one to buy. She sent me pictures of two small paintings by Annie Henrie, one of my daughter’s favorite artists. They were reasonably priced, for originals, but she wanted my help in deciding between the two.

Young girl surround by blossoms by Annie Henrie 2011 Gift 2011 - Lara sm

I liked both but felt the young girl praying with two angels hovering over her fit our daughter best. I asked if I could go to the store and see them in person before we bought one. What you should know is that my daughter worked in the bookstore where these paintings were being sold.

Gifts 2011 - Alisa smA couple of hours later my daughter called me from the store and said she had a great gift idea for mom. She said that mom had been at the store and had been hovering over several paintings by Annie Henrie. My daughter sent me pictures of the three she felt mom really liked. Two of the three were the ones my wife had shown me. I told my daughter the same thing I had told my wife—that it was a great idea but I wanted to come see them before a final decision was made.

I dutifully went to the store and looked at the artwork with my daughter. There were a number of small paintings by Annie but the three she picked out were the ones I liked best. I bought all three, telling our daughter that I now had presents to cover mom for the next year — Christmas, Mother’s Day, and her birthday. When I arrived home I showed my wife the angel picture we had decided was best for our daughter. The other two paintings I hid in my office closet.

Gift 2011 - ExpressionMy daughter and her husband were with us Christmas morning. She was so excited for mom to open her present.  Mom had the same feeling about our daughter. I, of course, was the most excited but couldn’t really show it. Mom opened her painting (girl with flowers) and was delighted. When our daughter opened hers’ she was all smiles, as evidenced by the photo. And me, their reactions made this one of my favorite Christmases.

Note, the third painting (a mother with her baby) was given to our oldest daughter as a Mother’s Day gift.


We learn from the scriptures (I Cor 7:7, I Cor 12:4-12, D&C 46:11-26) that God has given each of us gifts (talents, attributes, traits …).

  1. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
  2. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
  3. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
  4. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
  5. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
  6. To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
  7. To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
  8. But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
  9. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
    I Cor 12:4-12.

I found the following challenge, given by President Henry B. Eyring in a 2012 conference address, thought provoking. 

God knows our gifts. My challenge to you and to me is to pray to know the gifts we have been given, to know how to develop them, and to recognize the opportunities to serve others that God provides us. But most of all, I pray that you will be inspired to help others discover their special gifts from God to serve.3

If like me, you love Christmas, consider the time we spend trying to find the perfect gift for those we love. Now, in comparison, think about the time we devote to helping others discover the gifts they’ve received from God. The question I’ve asked myself is, do I spend enough time on the latter. The answer is I could do more.

Additional questions I’ve asked myself are:

  • Have I really spent time pondering the gifts of my children and worked to help them discover and develop them.
  • How about my wife? Have I done the same? Am I doing it now?
  • Neighbor’s and friends?
  • Am I doing it for them as opposed to me?

Think about the joy we feel when our Christmas gifts are received and the recipients are delighted with them. I believe more long-term joy is to be found in helping others open their heavenly gifts. I know we can feel the spirit of Christmas the entire year and truly bless the lives of others if we will help those around us discover and develop the gifts they already have in their possession.

  1. William George Jordan, 1900, The Royal Road to Happiness, The Majesty of Calmness
  2. D&C 46:11
  3. Henry B. Eyring, Help Them Aim High, Ensign, Nov 2012

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