Somewhere down the generations of mankind, we’ve decided the New Year is our clean start. We set goals left and right. We are resolved to change, to improve our lives starting January 1st. Among all the goals for finances, work, and health, I hope we all add a sentence or two at the top for the spiritual matters.
To help, I’d like to share a lesson I learned from trees. Trees are glorious and majestic examples of God’s creativity. They reach from the earth toward heaven, always growing toward the light. This alone can be a lesson to us, but there is another I’d like to focus on. No matter how tall they grow, they cannot survive if their roots do not reach deeply.
In the Grove a tree recently fell. This patriarchal tree was the largest tree in the Grove, apparently strong and great. It had stood for more than 170 years, but it failed to sink its roots deep enough. The shallow roots, wet from the fall and winter storms, began to rot. When the wind came, the roots could not support the grand above-ground growth. And it fell.
As the world gets less and less stable and trials arise all around us, we need to be anchored deep in the truth. The winds of trial will come, though we do not know when and we must have the spiritual strength to stand through the storm. This year set a new goal to sink yourself deep in the gospel.
See also Rest unto Your Souls and My Favorite Quotes
I’m not sure how some Christmas traditions get started. My family has a profusion of them that make Christmas morning delightful from early in the morning to late in the evening. Of course, the biggest moment is opening presents. First of all, we don’t even look at the tree without the whole family. And Dad has to lead the way.
At 7:30 in the morning we get to wake up Mom and Dad. We hand them robes and slippers as they climb out of bed and we quickly make their bed once they’re out. If we don’t make it fast enough they’ll climb back in. Dad takes his place at the head of our “Christmas Train” and he leads us around the upstairs to make sure we made our beds and cleaned our rooms clean. Finally, he leads us downstairs and when he turns the lights on for the Christmas tree we can head to our stockings.
In 2005, though, Christmas Day was on Sunday. This could’ve been a big problem for us since we also had Church at 9 a.m. We all knew that we would take longer than an hour to enjoy opening presents, but we couldn’t see ourselves walking past the tree all morning as we got ready. Talk about torture to a 9-year-old sister and a 6-year-old sister. We held a family council and those two little girls made the decision. Worshiping our Savior was more important than presents.
We decided Santa would figure it out if we left our stockings in the family room downstairs rather than our living room. Of course, he did. Christmas morning we found a giant red bow on the door. We went to Church and had one of the best Christmases I can remember. We had just as much fun as ever opening presents, but we had remembered the important thing: Gifts are nice, but Christmas is about Christ.
See the new LDS Christmas website