4th Day Christmas Past Question & Story

Posted by on Dec 15, 2017 in Christmas Past 2017 | 21 comments

On the 4th Day of Christmas Past, rekindling history to enhance today’s Light the World – “Blessed are the merciful.” 
Question:  How is President Heber J. Grant such a great example of mercy?

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“Money for Christmas”

Accounts of President Heber J. Grant, 7th President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

“Heber J. Grant was born in Salt Lake City on November 22, 1856, just nine years after the pioneers entered the valley.  His father, Jedediah M. Grant, died at the young age of 40.  This left Heber’s mother, Rachel Ivins Grant, now a young widow at 35, to make a living and raise her eight-day-old child.  Rachel provided for herself and Heber by sewing and taking in boarders.  Heber remembered that his mother bought a treadle sewing machine and that many times he sat on the floor until midnight, pumping the sewing machine by hand or with his feet to relieve his mother’s tired legs.

Heber made a little money on the side by shining boots for pennies.  Later he would remember a Christmas when his mother wept because she had no money to buy him even a stick of candy.  He determined he would work hard and earn money for them both.  His life became an example of what can be accomplished through setting personal goals and making them happen with iron discipline.  Heber resolved to help his mother out of poverty and was determined to become a bookkeeper.  In those days before computers and even typewriters, all business records were handwritten on paper with pen and ink.  So an important requirement for a bookkeeper was the ability to write well.  Heber set out to become a good penman, but writing was hard for him.  Several of his friends teased him that his handwriting wasn’t very good.  One of them said it looked like hen tracks.  Another said it looked like lightning had struck an ink bottle.  This made Heber all the more determined and he began practicing all the time to improve his writing.  His hard work paid off, and he actually won an award for his handwriting.  Eventually he was able to help his mother financially and taught penmanship at the University of Deseret (now University of Utah) and did indeed become a bookkeeper at Wells Fargo Bank.

A favorite gift President Grant liked to give away was money.  He never became a wealthy man in terms of the world, but he was always ready and willing to help others with whatever he had.  He had an especially tender heart for the difficulties widows faced because he remembered so vividly his own mother’s struggles.

Once he employed a typist in his office who had the use of only one hand.  She needed a job because she and her husband were quite poor.  After Pres. Grant learned of her circumstances, he got an idea.  With Christmas fast approaching, he proposed to his children that they play Santa Claus for a change.  Instead of him writing them a check for Christmas, each of them would write him a check.  He planned to take their checks, add what he usually would have given his children for Christmas, and then present a check for the entire amount to his typist.

On Christmas morning President Grant called at his employee’s home.  He gave her family “a turkey for their Christmas dinner and presented them with a check for several hundred dollars to pay on their house.”  It was a joyful day for the struggling family and for President Grant and his children as well.

He said, “Never forget that the true way to be happy is to do something to add to others’ happiness.  Try to forget yourself, and joy here and hereafter will come to you.”  He practiced what he preached.”

Figure out a meaningful way to ease another’s burdens today.

Taken from:

Willes, Laura F.  Christmas with the Prophets, p. 69-73

“Light the World” is a 25 day Christ-like service celebration from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Visit Mormon.org for more information.


  1. He learned Mercy from the the things he suffered as a young child. This helped him in his life to see the suffering and needs of others in hard situations. He had a deep love for people especially his mother. He taught his children the true meaning of Christmas also that it is more blessed to give than to receive. They learned this one Christmas when they gave all their Christmas money to my struggling family, and they saw how happy that made the family.

  2. It seems Pres. Grant was a very tender hearted and merciful individual; always thinking of how he could ease others’ burdens. He helped his mother with her sewing, worked to earn a job to provide for his mother and family, and taught his family to do the same by giving money to his employee instead of using it for themselves. What a good example to all of us!

  3. President Grant grew up with his widowed mother. He learned st an early age how to serve, helping his mother with her sewing. He taught his kids it was better to give than receive when they all participated at Christmas in helping a struggling mother in need.

  4. Possessing a tender heart and a watchful eye, Heber J. Grand forgot himself and gave his time, money, and service to others. Emulating Christ, his example, he demonstrated sympathy and compassion in kind acts, giving assistance where possible and donating gifts where appropriate. He was a good example to us all of Christlike mercy and love.

  5. He learned how hard life could be as a young boy with his mom. When he became older he could see the needs of others and wanted to help. He would rather make someone else happy than himself.

  6. One definition of mercy is ” a desire to relieve suffering, motivated by compassion”. President Grant did this many times during his life – from helping his mother with her sewing to teaching his children to give freely to a family that really needed help.

  7. One definition of mercy is ” a desire to relieve suffering, motivated by compassion”. Heber J. Grant did this many times during his life – from helping his mother with her sewing to teaching his children to give freely to a family that really needed help.

  8. Pres Heber Grant showed mercy to his mother by peddling the sewing machine for her when her legs were tired, even til midnight and to people he employed as well.

  9. President Heber J Grant lived his life as a true disciple of Christ. He had lived a life of poverty and sacrifice, learning compassion and mercy at a young age and gaining a desire to serve. He was a great father to teach his own children to have compassion and mercy.

  10. Heber learned to show mercy at a young age. He worked hard to help provide for his mother as well as himself. I am sure he believed that all he had came from the Lord, and was meant to bless others as well. When the giver gives out of love, and the recipient accepts gracefully and out of live, both are edified.

  11. President Grant was an incredible example of mercy from his youth, helping his mother with the sewing machine to relieve her feet, then remaining determined to achieve his dreams and thereby being able to later provide for his mother. Even though he wasn’t very wealthy, he still would help others by giving away money. He showed mercy especially to the widowed and he and his children helped one, one-handed typist whose family struggled, to provide them with a Christmas dinner and several hundred dollars to pay on their home. What a great example!

  12. Heber J. Grant’s life has always been an inspiration to me and an example of what can be accomplished by determination. It seems to me that his mother’s love is probably what taught him about mercy and about how money can be a great and merciful blessing to those in need. His gift of money to his secretary showed his sensitivity to others, but he also involved his family so that they could learn the joy of being merciful, too.

  13. President Grant recognized that in showing mercy and kindness to others , we are mirroring the mercy that the Savior shows to us. Joy comes from this Christlike service.

  14. I have always loved reading stories about President Grant and how he worked so hard to develop abilities that were hard for him initially–playing baseball, handwriting and singing. What a great example. He is also such a sweet example of kindness, compassion and generosity!

  15. Heber J. Grant was a great man who learned gratitude and mercy at a very early age. Because he had little or nothing growing up with his widowed mother, he learned to appreciate the small possessions in life. As a result, when he grew up and later had enough, he was merciful to those who had very little by giving freely.

  16. President Grant thought of others before he thought of himself. He was a true disciple of our Savior as he showed love and kindness to others

  17. Like it said in the story, Heber J. Grant never did became a wealthy man in worldly terms. He showed mercy in many ways. He showed mercy to those who may have been passed by, by others. Such as he was always ready and willing to help others with whatever he had. He looked especially kindly on windows, because of what his mother had to do to make ends meet. He helped his mother with her job, by pumping the sewing machine sometimes until midnight. So that she could rest her legs.

  18. I couldn’t remember what Mercy really meant. I looked it up and this is what it means. Compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm. I didn’t understand how this could apply to Heber J. Grant or any prophet. Then it occurred to me that, that power could be someone ability of knowledge, friendship, wealth or the ability to employee. He showed mercy at a young by helping his mother work. He employed a women who would have found it hard to find a job elsewhere, because of her physical disadvantage. He also asked his children to give of their money and help his employee. In the end he gave her family a turkey for their Christmas dinner and presented them with a check for several hundred dollars to pay on their house.

  19. From giving his mother relief by working the treadle while she sewed to give her relief, to hiring the woman as a typist that had only the use of one arm because she and her husband were having a hard time, and then providing a turkey and money for them at Christmas, show a life continuously showing mercy.

  20. President Grant spent his life giving service and compassion to others. He was a very devoted son to his mother, helping her throughout his life. He also showed concern and care for others. It seems this was his life’s mission.

  21. President Heber J. Grant showed mercy by finding ways to help others in need. He helped his widow mother by working the treadle sewing machine, earned money as a bookkeeper to help his mother, and gave money to a needy family. He believed in forgetting about himself to help make others happy.

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