Every Christmas, our family had a tradition of everyone giving presents to each member of the family. We had a big family and an extended family and part of the tradition was eating Noche Buena together then everyone receiving and opening all the gifts on Christmas Eve.
Ever since I was a child, I remember the feeling of anticipation and excitement as we beheld all the gifts in a big, mountainous pile around the tree and happiness and the laughter as those gifts were distributed and opened come Christmas Eve.
A few years ago, my father decided to start a new tradition. A few weeks before Christmas, he announced that we will do something new for Christmas. We will choose someone who is in need (individual or family member), and pledge a portion of our Christmas gift budget for the chosen beneficiary.
He asked us if we would like to help in our own small way by pledging any amount. We all agreed.
That first year, my father chose a sister from another ward whose leg was amputated due to a gangrene-infested wound that was worsened by diabetes. He wanted to donate a prosthetic leg to this sister so she could get back on her feet and live a normal life again. He gave us the amount of the prosthetic leg, and all of us, including the youngest ones in grade school, pledged an amount we were willing to contribute. We just agreed to give very simple and inexpensive gifts to each other with what was left from our budget.
By Christmas Day, we were able to come up with the needed amount for her prosthetic leg and my father was able to give it to her.
A few months later, my father received a photo of the sister happily smiling in the temple, wearing her prosthetic leg. Knowing that our small gesture helped this sister live a normal life again gave us a different kind of joy. It was more than the happiness from opening lots of gifts. Truly, it is better to give than to receive. It was our most memorable Christmas.
We still continue this tradition until now, choosing a beneficiary every year for our pledged donations. One time, we distributed small gifts to street vendors in Batangas while we were on a family Christmas vacation and seeing the smiles on their faces was indeed priceless.
I know that the best gift we could give the Savior is our acts of charity, kindness, and generosity to the poor and the needy.
'And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.' (Matthew 25:40)