Here we are, getting ready for Christmas. We keep the Savior in our hearts—or we try to, as we decorate, bake, shop, and wrap. It’s a big holiday with big expectations. And though most people seem cheerier than ever, there are definitely grumpy shoppers and drivers, trying to check things off their list.

We try to remember the symbolism, to keep Christ in Christmas. Candy canes remind us of the shepherd’s staff, stars depict the Star of Bethlehem, gifts echo those of the Wise Men, and so on. Many of us read the story of the first Christmas in Luke and in 3rd Nephi. We play Christmas music, and dress up our kids for a nativity skit. These are wonderful ways to keep the focus on the birth of the Messiah.

But there’s another way to celebrate our Lord, the One who ultimately died for us, who made it possible to live again, and to return to the presence of God. It won’t need wrapping paper or a bow, and it might even ease the tensions you feel this time of year.  It’s to do something Christ told us to, and in fact it was his final act: Forgive someone.

If Christmastime has become so busy that you can’t even think about this, you’re too busy. If you think forgiving that person is just too hard, think about how hard it has been to carry this burden all these years. Earnestly pray earnestly about it. Get a Priesthood blessing for strength.

More than any other gift you give, this is the one for Christ. This is the one He asked for. This one shows that we truly want to follow him, be like him, and fit ourselves for Heaven. Christ tells us in D & C 64:10, “Of you it is required to forgive all men.” 

Do you wish you could set aside all the accumulated hurt in your life? Our Prophet, President Russell M. Nelson said, “Through His infinite atonement, you can forgive those you have hurt you.”

Do you need a miracle? President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “Somehow forgiveness, with love and tolerance, accomplishes miracles that can happen in no other way.”

Do you want to be forgiven, yourself? President Henry B. Eyring said, As you forgive, you will feel the joy of being forgiven,”

Do you want a bright future? Elder David E. Sorensen said, “Forgiveness means that problems of the past no longer dictate our destinies, and we can focus on the future with God’s love in our hearts.”

And this is where the double gift comes in. When we forgive, we are actually the beneficiaries. The forgiven person may not even be alive anymore. Or, may not care. It doesn’t matter—by letting go of poisonous resentment and grudges, we are breaking the chains that hold us down and we can fly.

That’s what the rush of joy feels like, when we finally let go and choose to stop hating. Not only is it a gigantic emotional release, but we are suddenly—and often, to our surprise—on Christ’s team. We feel at one with him, close to him. We suddenly “get it.”

Our minds open to the concept, and we want to forgive all the others, too. In fact, we want to forgive so swiftly that there’s no pile of grudges to address. Elder Neal A. Maxwell said, “We cannot repent for someone else. But we can forgive someone else, refusing to hold hostage those whom the Lord seeks to set free.”

This brilliant insight reminds us that He loves them, too. He wants them back, just as he wants you back. All at once we realize that the space where our bitterness used to be, is now flooded with love and happiness. You might want to sit down for this one!

And that’s the magic of the double gift: You receive it yourself. It’s precisely what Christ wants you to have, it’s exactly your size, and it will never wear out. Let go and lift up. Do it for Christmas. Do it for Christ.

Hilton’s book, A Little Christmas Prayer, is the perfect Christmas gift. Sometimes it takes a child to raise a village, and this tale teaches anyone, of any faith, the magic of gratitude. All her books and Youtube Mom videos can be found on her website.