My Christmas Ensign article

Ten years ago, while attending BYU, I spent a semester in Jerusalem. The following story was written not long after that wonderful experience. It can be found in this December’s Ensign, listed under “Three Christmas Stories”, edited and reworked. Here’s the original version my mom loves, the one I wrote just after getting home. 

“It was a cool, windy evening as we pulled up to Shepherd’s Field near Bethlehem, all 40 of us students tired from an early start and a long day of field tripping. But this last stop was the one we had been waiting for; the field where the shepherd’s sat and watched their sheep, never imagining what was about to happen.

The field wasn’t what I had imagined. I had always pictured something green with slightly rolling hills, no trees, little lambs pleasantly seated upon the soft, lush grass for the night’s rest with a few shepherds in very authentic robes watching over them.

I wasn’t prepared.

It wasn’t a field, instead it was a terraced hill with virtually no green anywhere. We walked down a little path and our teachers told us to each find a quiet place and take some time to write in our journals.

I fumbled around and finally found a rock to sit on. It was not comfortable. It was cold and very rough and there were thorns around it. This was nothing like the field in my mind. 

They had told us there would be local shepherds who would come; we could see the sheep.

I wasn’t prepared for the children in rags.

They weren’t in nice, authentic robes, they were in very worn out second hand clothing, these bright eyed, open palmed angels.

I watched as Sister Keller made them each say their name before she graciously gave them a few shekels. They took them and were immediately off to find their next contributor.

One of the children was carrying a newborn lamb, only two days old, and he offered to let me hold it for a small price.

As I sat there, chilled from the night air on the freezing rock, I took the warm baby on my lap and started to see this picture differently. 

The cold night, the rocky field, the poor, humble shepherds, the baby lamb in my arms…

The Savior knew about the life of a shepherd. He knew about the cold nights and the rocky trails and the danger of harm to his lambs by thieves and animals. He knew about holding a baby lamb in his arms and waiting for the long night to pass while standing watch.

The wise men brought gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Mohr. But the Savior knew the shepherds could offer little, knew of their sacrifice simply in coming.

The gift they brought was not a gift of material significance. They came with humble hearts and joyful spirits to partake in the celebration of their infant Lord. Theirs was the gift I am speaking of. His gift is the gift I am speaking of.

 The Savior brought joy to a cold and dreary world. The shepherds felt it, and that night I felt the truth in the Christmas gift of the Savior.”


Merry Christmas. 



  1. Denys Gallentine (Brumbaugh) says:

    Hey Annie-Stumbled on your site from Jenny’s blog. Love catching up with you. Are you in the Ogden area? I am in Orem.
    Merry Christmas. Thanks for the Christmas story – I’ll look for it in the Ensign.

  2. Thank you Annie, I really needed this. Have a Merry Christmas!

  3. So, that seemed kinda familiar…but since you said it’s a little different than the printed one I’m not so sure I really did read it before.
    Either way-it was good and I liked it and thanks for sharing!
    Merry Christmas!

  4. I just HEARD about your article in Sacrament Meeting and haven’t had a chance to read it yet. . . but I loved this telling and promise to see your name in print on Christmas Day. . . Thanks for submitting it to the Ensign and for writing it. . . I had no idea it was like that on that hill, either!

  5. I read that, and wondered if it was you…

    Merry Christmas! That story was beautiful.

  6. I need to learn to proof read…

    It should have said: I read that IN THE ENSIGN and wondered if it was you.

    I’m sleep deprived. Need I say more? Merry Christmas, friend.

  7. Bravo, well written and nice story too!

  8. Beautiful…thanks for sharing 🙂

  9. Annie, So I ready that and the other 2 little Christmas articles the first night of December and they were all so wonderful. It really got me ready for the Christmas season and brought such a wonderful spirit to our home. I was so impressed that you made it into the Ensign! I was wondering when you were going to mention this little article in your blog…and seems that you picked the perfect date to post it. You are such a wonderful writer and that was such a beautiful story and the way you related it to the savior was perfect. Two of my sisters went to study abroad in jeruslaem too and I was so sad b/c the semester I got accepted they closed down so I was never able to go. I hope to one day. Thank you for sharing such an abeautiful story and congratulations again for being spotlighted in the most popular mormon magazine ever! You go girl!

  10. ok…so i just saw a few too many typos in mine comment too…oh well…I’m sure you understood it and were able to edit in your head since you are a proffessional author/editor now!

  11. You’re right. It is better this way.

  12. Thanks for sharing this here. I don’t get the Ensign so I would have missed it! (I’m making this a New Year’s resolution to find out how to get the magazines shipped to Poland finally!)

    Lovely story, Annie. I think a lot of those stories we hear over and over didn’t actually happen just the way we might have pictured, but they happened just they way they were supposed to, and for good reasons. Thanks for sharing this.

  13. Lovely story, what a wonderful writer you are. I just stumbled upon you and wanted to say HI.