Thursday, December 22, 2016

President David O. McKay on prolonging the Christmas spirit

President David O. McKay (1873-1970) was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1906.  He served as a counselor in the First Presidency to Heber J. Grant and George Albert Smith beginning in 1945, then then as the president of the Church from 1951 to his death in 1970 at age 96.
"What is the source of the joy of this almost universal holiday? It is found in the fact that everyone has in his or her heart the desire to make somebody else happy. There is a losing of self for the good of another. Selfishness is replaced by a feeling to do good; sordidness is banished by gratuity; enmity by friendliness and doubt and suspicion by confidence and trust. On that day we glimpse the truth that peace can come to earth only through 'good will to men.' It is the spirit of giving that makes us truly happy....
"If the world can be so happy in Winter, when, in northern climes at least, 'From snow-topp'd hills the whirlwinds keenly blow, howl thru the woods, and pierce the vales below,' how simple it should be to have the joys of Christmas mingle with the murmuring life of Springtime, or with the full bloom and sunshine of Summer, or with brilliantly bedecked Autumn. Why not be happy throughout the whole year, and every year?
"To do this let us supplant the spirit of getting from others by the spirit of giving; the spirit of selfishness by the spirit of helpfulness....
"Too often:
We ring the bells and we raise the strain, 
We hang up garlands everywhere 
And bid the tapers twinkle fair, 
And feast and frolic—and then we go 
Back to the same old lives again. (Susan Coolidge)
"What a different world this will be when men and women everywhere will strive to give up mean, petty, selfish, sordid, uncharitable feelings and attitudes and replace them by kindness, friendliness, forbearance and sympathy and mutual helpfulness. When that day comes the angels will again sing—
"'Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace, good will toward men.'"
- David O. McKay, "Extending Christmas Throughout the Year," The Instructor, December 1934, p. 528
Click here to read the full article

President McKay begins by identifying the "source of joy" in the Christmas season: it comes from our efforts to make others happy. As we become focused on sharing joy with others, we find it increases in our own lives—"it is the spirit of giving that makes us truly happy."

President McKay then asks the important question, "Why not be happy throughout the whole year, and every year?" How can we extend the spirit we feel beyond the Christmas season? It seems obvious: we must continue the spirit of unselfishness and service: "kindness, friendliness, forbearance and sympathy and mutual helpfulness." That is truly the path to joy in our lives and peace on earth.

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