From the Improvement Era, December 1953 –
No Christmas Spirit
By Alta Higbee Jacobsen
“They never get anything for Christmas,” Great Aunt Martha said. “I don’t see how John can be so stingy with his family.”
“But on their birthdays,” Great Aunt Alice mused, “on their birthdays they get such wonderful gifts. I wonder why it is? Do you think it’s because they have no Christmas spirit? Even the children do not give gifts to one another. It’s very strange indeed.”
“And when you say anything to them about it they all shut up just like clams,” Great Aunt Martha added, “that is, all but the littlest one. And my! how her eyes light up and shine when you mention Christmas presents. You’d actually think she was happy over Christmas, even without presents.”
“There’s something queer goes on in that house all right, and all these years since Clara died, too. I think we ought to speak to John about it. let’s go over there now.”
The littlest one, who had entered through the front door in time to hear their conversation, slipped away quickly, unnoticed. She hurried home. It wouldn’t do to let Great Aunt Martha and Great Aunt Alice get there before she did.
“Daddy!” she cried as she slammed through the door. “Daddy and Margie and Jim! Quick, hide the presents. Great Aunts Martha and Alice are coming to see if we haven’t any Christmas spirit.”
“We can’t let them find out!” big brother Jim exclaimed, grabbing an armload of half-wrapped gifts and heading for the stairs. “Margie, bring the paper! Dad, get the string!”
Minutes later, excited and breathless, they viewed the more orderly living room, void of any sign of presents. A gaily trimmed tree stood in the corner. Each grinned at the other, and the littlest one laughed with sheer delight.
“Now, remember,” Dad said, “we mustn’t let them know. The Savior said we must not do our good deeds to be seen of men. they must not guess that each year we hunt up some needy family and give them a complete merry Christmas. On our birthdays we receive gifts, but Christmas is to celebrate the Savior’s birthday and so we give our gifts to him – by helping those in need. He has said, ‘Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” And since we celebrate this as his birthday, we give our presents to him by helping those in need.”
“That’s right, Dad!” they all chorused just before the great aunts came in.
“Now, John,” Great Aunt Martha said with determination, “we want to know why you don’t have the Christmas spirit in your home. We feel it’s our duty to speak to you about it.”
The great aunts looked at the silent faces before them, the heads erect, eyes shining, mouths tightly closed, and threw up their hands in despair.
“You know,” Great Aunt Alice said as they were walking home, “I had more of a feeling of the Christmas spirit in that house than I have ever felt anywhere before.”
“It’s very queer,” Great Aunt Martha said, puzzled, “very queer.”