The Christmas Story
I loved Steven P’s recent post about Bergsonian philosophy and Christmas (and Star Trek, to boot). Reading it reminded me of my favorite Christmas-y story.
Many years ago in a small town in the southern part of the state of Utah, my great-grandmother was called to be the president of the Relief Society. During this period of our Church’s history there existed a very bitter and antagonistic spirit between the Mormons and the Gentiles.
In my great-grandmother’s ward one of the young sisters married a Gentile boy. This of course did not please either the Mormons or the Gentiles very much. In the course of time this young couple gave birth to a child. Unfortunately the mother became so ill in the process of childbirth that she was unable to care for her baby. Upon learning of this woman’s condition, great-grandmother immediately went to the homes of the sisters in the ward and asked them if they would take a turn going into the home of this young couple to care for the baby. One by one these women refused and so the responsibility fell completely upon her.
She would arise early in the morning, walk what was a considerable distance to the home of this young couple where she would bathe and feed the baby, gather all that needed to be laundered and take it with her to her home. There she would launder it and then return with it the next day. Great-grandmother had been doing this for some time when one morning she felt too weak and sick to go and perform the service that had become her custom. However, as she lay in bed she realized that if she didn’t go the child would not be provided for. She mustered all her strength and went.
After performing this service she, and I suppose only with the help of the Lord, was able to return to her home and upon entering her living room, collapsed into a large chair and immediately fell into a deep sleep. She said that as she slep, she felt as if she were consumed by a fire that would melt the very marrow of her bones. She began to dream and dreamed that she was bathing the Christ child and glorying in what a great privilege it would have been to have bathed the Son of God. Then the voice of the Lord spoke to her saying, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these, ye have done it unto me.”
[Anonymous, published in a 1970s priesthood manual, quoted in Chieko Okazaki's Cat's Cradle, pp. 205-206]
In his post Steven eloquently says, I can’t reduce [the Savior's] birth to a story separate from my own. As the birth was so intended, it touches and intertwines with mine and the story of the Savior’s birth becomes part of my story.
Today, as my family celebrates that birth, I give thanks that his story is part of mine–and that my story is part of his. I can’t put my arms around him and kiss his cheek and hold him tightly in love and gratitude, as I would like to do. But I can embrace him by embracing my loved ones. And that’s exactly what I will do again and again as we eat together, sing together, and retell the Christmas story, which is anything but ancient history.