I hope that all of you had a very blessed and merry Christmas this week. I am not ready to depart from the spirit of Christmas yet. Our home was filled with peace & gladness – and our hearts were filled with happiness & love. I truly would love to “keep Christmas with us all year.” It is the greatest gift we can share, and a divine work we are called to perform;
But how is it done?
I love this poem.
The Work of Christmas
When the song of the angels is stilled.
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost, to heal the broken,
To feed the hungry, to release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations, to bring peace among brothers,
To make music in the heart.
~ Howard Thurman
Perhaps looking to the way we have celebrated and felt during this season of Christmas can best teach us how to keep it with us.
- being a little kinder to others?
- focused on giving good gifts?
- filled with music?
- choosing to smile and laugh?
- gathering with friends and family?
- reading the scriptures more?
- pondering the birth, life and mission of Jesus?
Here are some of the ways that I have kept Christmas this month, and hope to continue to keep it.
“If thou art merry, praise the Lord with singing” – D&C 136:28
Christmas Eve fell on a Sunday this year, which meant it was especially busy and also especially sweet for me. It began with early morning rehearsal and performing our weekly Choir broadcast which you can watch here.
“The spirit of Christmas illuminates the picture window of the soul, and we look out upon the world’s busy life and become more interested in people than things.” – President Thomas S. Monson
Our newly created Latter-day Saint ward held a one-hour Sacrament worship service for Christmas Eve. We were able to sing Christmas hymns together, and partake of the Sacrament. Testimonies of Jesus were shared, there was a lovely performance of a Christmas hymn by a newly formed Choir, and also a lovely violin solo. Mr. Mo and I were blessed to be able to attend and worship with our Daughter Bee, my parents, and his father.
“and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” – Genesis 12:3
On Christmas Eve my father’s extended family always gather. Because Grandma Adeline was Norwegian, Christmas Eve has been the most important night for celebrating for the Kleven/Seely clan. This year the party was held at my sister’s home. This is always a very loud and loving gathering where everyone eats a big buffet meal, there are at least 20 different conversations going at once, and there is a lot of laughing. After the meal and desserts comes a hilarious white elephant gift exchange. In the midst of all the bustle, I saw a sweet moment being shared between two of my sister’s young children cuddled on a chair watching a Christmas movie together on a cell phone.
Mr. Mo and I had to leave the party early in order to fulfill our volunteer service at the Episcopal Church of The Resurrection.
“That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” – John 17:21
Mr. Mo and I joined with our Episcopal friends to sing with their Choir for the Christmas Eve Festival and Holy Communion. It was such a joy to be welcomed so warmly into their fold, and an honor to be clothed in their Choir robes. I was also honored to sing a solo during their service.
There is such a beautiful tradition of congregational hymn singing, and expression of faith in other churches. I am always inspired and gain something whenever I have a chance to visit other religious services. There was a beautiful spirit of Christ in the Episcopal Christmas Eve service that touched my soul deeply. I love the tradition of standing and singing ALL of the verses of a Christmas hymn after a reading or lesson is given. I love the tradition of audience participation. And I deeply love the tradition of candles (which I sorely miss in LDS services). One of my favorite moments of the evening came at the end when everyone held up a small white candle in a plastic cup – a torch bearer lit one candle, and then the light was passed from person to person until we all held our lit candles together. Then, the electrical lights in the chapel were dimmed so that the congregation was bathed in candlelight as we sang the immortal hymn “Silent Night, Holy Night” together. It was so beautiful and sacred. Adding to the wonder of that moment was my personal view from the Choir loft. I could see through an outer window behind the chapel that it was snowing! And my mind instantly flashed to another Christmas Eve several years ago – my mother-in-law Elaine squealing in delight and clapping her hands with joy… “Oh, look! Come and see, everyone! Look! Look! It’s snowing!”
Later, Mr. Mo told me that he had been able to see the snowfall through the same window from his seat in the Choir loft, and he had experienced the very same memory pop into his mind of his mother being excited about the snow on Christmas Eve. Yes indeed, it was truly a perfect Christmas Eve – and the spirit of Elaine had managed to find a way to join us for Christmas – joyfully!
“As you blow out the flame of your candle tonight, please remember to take the light with you.”
– The Reverand Lyn Zill Briggs
“and behold they did pray steadfastly, without ceasing, unto him; and [Jesus] did smile upon them” – 3 Nephi 19:30
In conclusion of our very long and event filled Christmas Eve celebration, our family gathered at home around the twinkling lights of our Christmas tree. We each opened one present (which traditionally is always matching pajamas), and then we read some scriptures in remembrance of our Savior, kneel in family prayer together, and share a big group hug. 🙂
It was such a blessed day filled with every good thing. All of this is the Christmas that my heart longs for, and that I will strive to keep. – MoSop