This is the fourth of seven winners in the Deseret News' annual Christmas writing contest, "Christmas I Remember Best."
In 1931, my family traveled from Provo, where I was born and raised, to Vernon in Tooele County to be with extended family for Christmas. I was 5 years old, the sixth of seven children, and although I did not understand it at the time, we were in the depths of the Great Depression. Everybody was out of work, including my father. Due to my young age, and perhaps the conditions of the era, I had little knowledge of Santa Claus bringing gifts and did not fully understand the festivities of Christmas Eve.
On Christmas morning, Mother handed me a jar of honey with a ribbon around it and said, "Ivan, look what Santa Claus left you." I took that jar and it was mine! That was my Christmas present and I treasured it. But I had not yet experienced its true gift.
That happened later Christmas morning when we gathered as a family for breakfast. There were at least a dozen family members sitting around the breakfast table. A morning prayer of thanks was offered and we began our meal.
It was then that Mother leaned toward me and gently suggested, "Ivan, wouldn't that be fun if you could share your jar of honey with all of us for breakfast?" I really did not want to do that. It was the only gift I had received.
Eventually, I decided my mother's idea might be all right. I handed the jar to Mother and watched as it was passed around the table. Each took a helping and thanked me for sharing. There were glad responses all around. I felt so good in my heart. I was pleased that everybody was enjoying something I had shared and particularly proud of my jar of honey as it was returned to my side.
Eighty-one years have passed, and I still remember the good feelings I had while watching my family enjoy the jar of honey. Ever since that Christmas morning, I have been more willing to share and look after those in need. This has been a theme throughout my life, and what a gift that theme has become. I feel an overwhelming appreciation for my Christlike mother who showed me at an early age the gift of sharing. The Christmas of 1931 turned out to be the first Christmas I can remember, and the Christmas I remember best.