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“Elder Snow was held in prison for many months. But his positive attitude turned that experience from a disaster to a blessing. He remembered what the Prophet Joseph had said of his persecutors: ‘If they drive us to hell, we’ll turn the devil out and make a heaven of it.’ While in prison, Elder Snow and the other men began to paint, write, sculpt, and hold classes in mathematics and languages. They turned the prison into a big school for everyone’s benefit.”

Christmas with the Prophets by Laura F. Willes takes the reader on a condensed journey from 1805 to today as they read about Christmas in the lives of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and all the Latter-day prophets through Thomas S. Monson. The book is filled with stories that inspire, teach, and remind us of the joys of a simple life.

David O. McKay once wrote: “It is only an old country home, but no place was ever filled with truer love and devotion on the part of parents, brothers, and sisters, than those which pervaded the hearts of the loved ones in that family circle.” [These were] “memories that no money could buy.”

I enjoyed the account of his pulling children and grandchildren on a yearly sleigh ride through Huntsville. It is accompanied by a photograph of one of those rides with President McKay standing in the wagon, dressed in his long raccoon coat.

Christmas with the Prophets includes the story of President Kimball passing on a gift of $50 that was entrusted to him with the plea, “Will you place this money where it will please the Redeemer most?”

The book has stories of great faith and gratitude. When Elder Taylor set out for his mission to England, he spent four months working his way to New York City. There he and his companion were taken in by Elder Parley P. Pratt “who was temporarily in the city to arrange for some publishing for the Church.”

“Elder Taylor didn’t say anything about his lack of funds. Instead, whenever anyone asked about his financial situation, he would reply, ‘I have plenty of money!’”

Elder Pratt approached him for a contribution to the publishing. “Elder Taylor replied, ‘You are welcome to all I have.’ He put his hand in his pocket, pulled out a one-cent coin, and gave it to Elder Pratt. Surprised, Elder Pratt reminded Elder Taylor that he had claimed to have plenty of money. Elder Taylor said it was true. He explained that he had clothes on his back, was provided with excellent food in Elder Pratt’s home, and ‘with all these things and a penny over, as I owe nothing, is not that plenty?’”

This is a hard-bound book to be read from every Christmas Season. It has wonderful illustrations, thick glossy pages (I wish you could feel how thick they are), testimonies, and a framed picture of each prophet. But it is the messages that make it a treasure.

In 1994, in his last address, President Hunter said, “Brothers and Sisters. . .as followers of the Master, we desire to draw closer to Him as we remember during this season His wondrous birth two millennia ago. . . .
“We should strive to give as He gave. To give of oneself is a holy gift. We give as a remembrance of all the Savior has given. . . .Mend a quarrel. Seek out a forgotten friend. Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a letter. Give a soft answer. Encourage youth. Manifest your loyalty in word and deed. Keep a promise. Forgo a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Apologize. Try to understand. Examine your demands on others. Think first of someone else. Be kind. Be gentle. Laugh a little more. Express your gratitude. Welcome a stranger. Gladden the heart of a child Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth. Speak your love then speak it again.”

“Christmas is a celebration, and there is no celebration that compares with the realization of it’s true meaning.”