Since being home, things have been wonderful. I've had some good conversations with my Dad and Rae Lyn, gotten to watch and play basketball with Ben, relax a bit, shop a big, learn a bit, work a bit, and sleep.
And yet, things have also been hard. Until I come home, I forget how deeply some of the things and people here tear into my soul and grieve my heart. I can usually keep a handle on these things when I'm far away at school, but actually being here is different. Simply the proximity to problems puts me in a whirlwind of emotion and anxiety. The constant discussions of people we don't understand, the worries of trying to help someone gone astray. It may be partially a result of all the dental work I got done last week, but I've had the most painful headaches this week that I've ever experienced.
Which has helped me realize how hard I've fought to create a life different that this one. There are things I love about home, don't get me wrong. But in Utah, my home, I've tried to create an atmosphere of love- where even if you don't agree with someone, everyone is treated with love. No constant backbiting and bad-mouthing, just discussions of how to treat others in a more Christlike way. Now I know it's far from perfect, but it's something I cherish. And something I miss. The quiet nights of smiles and laughter. The sappy animal/baby videos on youtube. The opportunity to help my students every day. An apartment where things are shared and service is rendered daily.
Now that I'm home, I'm realizing how vital it is to make my influence felt here. I don't always succeed in doing right- in fact I had to face the hard truth yesterday that I need to stop treating Ben like a little child. And yet I know that I'm here for a reason, and that I've had some advantages that others haven't.
And so...I'm trying to share the Christmas Spirit.
When I was 15, I was asked to give a talk on Christmas. Not a normal youth talk, a full 20 minute adult talk. I was petrified. But it was also one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. And my favorite part was a poem I discovered from one of President Thomas S. Monson's old talks.
This December, the Christmas Message by President Monson included that same poem from so long ago. As I read the words to myself, I remember that the spirit of Christmas, indeed the spirit of Christ, means simple, quiet service wherever we stand.
I am the Christmas Spirit—
I enter the home of poverty, causing palefaced children to open their eyes wide, in pleased wonder.
I cause the miser’s clutched hand to relax and thus paint a bright spot on his soul.
I cause the aged to renew their youth and to laugh in the old glad way.
I keep romance alive in the heart of childhood, and brighten sleep with dreams woven of magic.
I cause eager feet to climb dark stairways with filled baskets, leaving behind hearts amazed at the goodness of the world.
I cause the prodigal to pause a moment on his wild, wasteful way and send to anxious love some little token that releases glad tears—tears which wash away the hard lines of sorrow.
I enter dark prison cells, reminding scarred manhood of what might have been and pointing forward to good days yet to be.
I come softly into the still, white home of pain, and lips that are too weak to speak just tremble in silent, eloquent gratitude.
In a thousand ways, I cause the weary world to look up into the face of God, and for a little moment forget the things that are small and wretched.
I am the Christmas Spirit.1