It was at that moment that I noticed something unusual—their house was hardly decorated on the inside! This family’s true joy was in spending time with their family and friends.
This year, a friend invited me to his home for Thanksgiving dinner. Being at college and far away from any of my own family, I accepted his offer.
I arrived at his home in the early afternoon. He lived in a modest neighborhood. The houses there were nice, and the lawns were kept well, but there was nothing extravagant about the area. They had two or three plain cars for the parents and the older teenage children—not old, worn cars, but modest, normal cars that didn’t call attention to the eye.
Upon entering his home, I was greeted by the grandparents and aunts and uncles and nieces and nephews. When I introduced myself to them, they all remembered my name and called me by it for the rest of the night.
The living room was set up with fold-up tables and chairs to accommodate all the guests. I found a place to sit down and I chatted with a few of the relatives while we waited to eat. They all took interest in me and were so friendly! After the meal, we continued talking and laughing and playing board games, and I even performed a few Christmas songs for them on the piano.
In between a round of Tenzi (a dice game), I took the chance to look around the room. Everyone was spread around the kitchen and family room, chatting and smiling, and little kids were running around, hopping over furniture and wearing Star Wars masks. The TV was even turned on to a football game, but the volume was muted and nobody seemed to be paying it much attention anyway.
It was at that moment that I noticed something unusual—their house was hardly decorated on the inside! The bookshelves beside the TV were empty, and the walls featured only one or two paintings. Near the piano was stood a solitary lamp, and in the kitchen, the only things on the counters were the great platters of food.
I excused myself and went to the front bathroom. Inside, I found only a nice soap dispenser and a rug.
I was amazed. This family, which I know had an ample income, hardly cared for worldly possessions. Indeed, the only item of interest in their home was a wooden turkey, which they had ceremoniously pardoned after the kids had named it Billy Joe. This family’s true joy was in spending time with their family and friends.
“Before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God” (Jacob 2:18).
We would all do well to follow the example of my friend, who lives modestly and treasures his relationships above any material goods.
“Families are not just meant to make things run more smoothly here on earth and to be cast off when we get to heaven. Rather, they are the order of heaven. They are an echo of a celestial pattern and an emulation of God’s eternal family” (In Praise of Those Who Save, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf,).
This Christmas season, may we strive to improve our family relationships, looking to the Savior to mend our differences. As we do so, the love of God will distill upon our souls, and we will receive the assurance that our families can be together forever.