Drawing upon his experiences as a farm boy, a missionary, a young widower with an infant daughter, and later, a husband and father in a family with meager resources, Elder Kevin R. Duncan testified that “it is Jesus Christ’s birthday that we celebrate each Christmas season, but because of the goodness of the Father and the Son, we still get all the presents.”
Elder Duncan, General Authority Seventy, was one of three speakers at this year’s First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional Sunday, Dec. 3.
He reminisced about Christmas mornings as he grew up on a farm, hurrying back in from attending to farm animals in freezing weather “to delve into the magic of the morning.”
“I was just beginning to learn about this man, Jesus Christ, whose birthday we were celebrating. But it seemed like a pretty good deal. It was His birthday, but we got all the presents. What child didn’t love that! Christmas was everything good.”
Later he came to realize that Christmas is everything good “simply because Jesus Christ was everything good.”
Elder Duncan spoke of the challenges of his first Christmas on his mission in Santiago, Chile. He was sick in bed in an unfamiliar country trying to understand an unfamiliar language and living with a companion he barely knew.
“Yet despite all of these challenges, I was beginning to love the people of Chile with all of my heart,” he said. “They were so wonderful and so easy to love — and many of them were very hungry for the message of the Savior.”
A few Christmases later, he was a young college student whose wife of less than two years had died a few months earlier in an auto accident, leaving him and his 7-month-old daughter alone.
The next Christmas he found himself still single. “I reasoned, ‘I might not be much of a catch, but what woman wouldn’t want a real live baby girl for Christmas? Not just a doll, but the real thing?’ And thankfully, if someone wanted the baby, well, I would be part of the package.”
His wish was fulfilled. He spent Christmas day with someone named Nancy he had met in biology class and dated. They were married that summer.
Their family began to grow, and a few years later as Christmas approached, they realized they didn’t have a spare penny to spend on presents for the children. “The only thing we had going for us was that we were full tithe payers.”
Though no one else knew of their plight, they began to experience little Christmas miracles: A neighbor came with toys her children no longer wanted; a family in their ward brought by a girl’s bicycle the family no longer needed; their young son won a coloring contest at a local store and received a popular children’s video as the prize.
“We were stunned,” Elder Duncan said. “All of these little miracles! Our children would have a few Christmas gifts after all. We had paid our tithing, and Heavenly Father and the Savior had opened the windows of heaven and poured out blessings — right down the chimney.”
He observed that at one time or another, “we all know someone who is lonely, sick, depressed, poor or far from home. Our Father and the Savior may direct us to help others, and it will be our privilege to do so.”
As a child, he said, he thought Christmas came once a year. “As an adult, I now realize that it is Christmas every day. Because of the benevolence of our Heavenly Father and our beloved Savior Jesus Christ, we are the recipients of a continuous flow of heavenly gifts — every day, heavenly gifts too numerous to mention.”