What special Christmas greeting did George Albert Smith put on his Christmas cards in 1945 and why? Do any of you remember the lights turning back on?
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A Special Christmas Card
By Christmas 1945, World War II had come to an end. For seven long years most nations of the world had been involved in or affected by the global conflict. An estimated 55 million people had lost their lives. Millions of people in Europe and in the Pacific, victims, of the war, were then living without clothing, food, and shelter. They faced a cold, difficult winter because fuel for heating, cooking, and transportation was almost impossible to obtain.
During the war, many cities enforced nightly blackouts, when no exterior lights could be turned on and inside lights could be used only if windows were tightly covered. This was a safety precaution for cities close to the fighting but was also meant to conserve fuel. Salt Lake City was no exception. Even the floodlights that normally lit up the exterior of the LDS temples were turned off to honor the blackouts. The Salt Lake Temple sat dark in a dark city every night during the war. As almost one of the last acts of his presidency, Pres. Heber J. Grant, nearing his death in May 1945, ordered the floodlights of the temple turned back on after hearing the cease fire in Europe. Imagine how wonderful it must have been to have that beautiful building lit up again at night, shining in the valley.
George Albert Smith, now Pres. of the Church, planned an inspiring and meaningful Christmas card for 1945. The card was the essence of beauty and simplicity. On the front was a night photograph of the three eastern spires of the Salt Lake Temple beautifully lit against a dark background with the angel Moroni soaring above. Below the picture were printed the words “Christmas – 1945” and a message: “The lights are on again…” Nothing could have better reflected the joy Pres. Smith, along with everyone else, was feeling after long years of death and destruction, the world was finally at peace.
But this Christmas card seemed to have another meaning, an even deeper, more important one. This Christmas card was Pres. Smith bearing his testimony that after not just seven years of constant war but centuries of darkness and despair, the bright lights of the fullness of the gospel were indeed “on again” for all the people of the world. That is the message of the Restoration, but it is also the essence of the Christmas message – not only in 1945 but also today for each and every person on the earth.
Laura Willes, “Christmas with the Prophets”, p. 81-83