Santa Claus and the Temple


An Apostle Shares What Santa Claus and the Temple Have in Common


By Boyd K. Packer, excerpted from “The Holy Temple” | Nov. 30, 2016

President Packer’s book, The Holy Temple, is a classic of LDS literature that has become one of the most comprehensive and definitive works written about temples. In fact, much of the material found in the Church’s temple preparation pamphlet comes from this inspired book. The following is an excerpt from this book, where President Packer shares insights from John A. Widtsoe of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostle’s and his groundbreaking talk, “Temple Worship.”

The reason the teaching of the gospel ofttimes is so difficult is that ideals in the gospel are such intangible things as faith, repentance, love, humility, reverence, obedience, modesty, and so forth. The dimensions of size and shape and color and texture just do not serve us there. In teaching the gospel we do not re-create the material world around us; we deal with the intangible world within us. It is far easier to re-create the visible, tangible world around us in alphabetical symbols than to re-create the spiritual ideals and have them understood. And yet it can be done, and it can be done most effectively by using symbols. We live in a world of symbols. We know nothing, except by symbols. We make a few marks on a sheet of paper, and we say that they form a word, which stands for love, or hate, or charity, or God or eternity. The marks may not be very beautiful to the eye. No one finds fault with the symbols on the pages of a book because they are not as mighty in their own beauty as the things which they represent. We do not quarrel with the symbol G-O-D because it is not very beautiful, yet represents the majesty of God. We are glad to have symbols, if only the meaning of the symbols is brought home to us. I speak to you tonight; you have not quarreled very much with my manner of delivery, or my choice of words; in following the meaning of the thoughts I have tried to bring home to you, you have forgotten words and manner. There are men who object to Santa Claus, because he does not exist! Such men need spectacles to see that Santa Claus is a symbol; a symbol of the love and joy of Christmas and the Christmas spirit. In the land of my birth there was no Santa Claus, but a little goat was shoved into the room, carrying with it a basket of Christmas toys and gifts. The goat of itself counted for nothing; but the Christmas spirit, which it symbolized, counted for a tremendous lot. We live in a world of symbols. No man or woman can come out of the temple endowed as he should be, unless he has seen, beyond the symbol, the mighty realities for which the symbols stand. (“Temple Worship,” page 62.)

If you will go to the temple and remember that the teaching is symbolic you will never go in the proper spirit without coming away with your vision extended, feeling a little more exalted, with your knowledge increased as to things that are spiritual. The teaching plan is superb. It is inspired. The Lord Himself, the Master Teacher, in His own teaching to His disciples taught constantly in parables, a verbal way to represent symbolically things that might otherwise be difficult to understand. He talked of the common experiences drawn from the lives of His disciples, and He told of hens and chickens, birds, flowers, foxes, trees, burglars, highwaymen, sunsets, the rich and the poor, the physician, patching clothes, pulling weeds, sweeping the house, feeding pigs, threshing grain, storing into barns, building houses, hiring help, and dozens of other things. He talked of the mustard seed, of the pearl. He wanted to teach his hearers, so he talked of simple things in a symbolic sense. None of these things is mysterious or obscure, and all of them are symbolic.


CHRISTMAS EVE. I think we’re going to get a bunch of snow today (for a genuine “white Christmas,” but no matter what the weather is like or what’s going on in the world (including some very SAD things), this is the time when we commemorate the birth of the SAVIOR OF THE WORLD… JESUS CHRIST. Oh, what a beautiful thing it is to be reminded of Him – His life, His mission, His atoning sacrifice, His example of all that is good and pure and true and holy. I’m sharing two poems which I’ve loved and pondered for at least 30 years. They may be familiar to you, or perhaps not. Either way, let them add to your thoughts and gratitude on this CHRISTMAS EVE.


SAVIOR   (By Margery S. Stewart)

So should I, Lord, Have hung upon that cross

Which I had fashioned, year on unthinking year,

And felt the nails’ torment,

The bitter burn of thirst

And life’s slow falling loss.

Save that upon a day thou

Didst quietly take my place,

And died, thorned there, between the thieves,

While angels wept

And earth in darkness mourned

The winnowed stillness of thy holy face.

And on what desolate crosses

Men have died

Rejecting thee, thine offer and thy love…

For who is there to listen In that dark. . .

Or be in a lighted instant at his side?

For if the thief could know

He steals to build the beam

On which he will be nailed by and by,

How fiercely he would strive

To find thee past the dark deceptive dream.

The cross, compassionate Lord, was never thine

But composite of all crosses, such as mine.




It is not the heaven that thou promised me,

My Lord, that moves me to love Thee;

Nor is it the hell that I so fear

That moves me to cease sinning against Thee.

Thou movest me, Lord; it moves me to see Thee

Nailed to the cross and despised;

It moves me to see Thy body wounded;

The insults Thou suffered and Thy death move me.

Finally, Thy love moves me so much

That even if there were no heaven,

I should love Thee;

And even if there were no hell

I should fear Thee.

Thou needest not give me a reason to love Thee

For though my present hope were all despair,

As now I love Thee, I should love Thee still.






Today is the anniversary of the birth of the Prophet Joseph Smith, so I want to share some thoughts and feelings about him. I shared something similar last year, and on my Blog comments yesterday were two which were VERY disturbing and unwelcome. Someone had gone back to what I posted a year ago and made blasphemous comments about Joseph Smith. Ouch! It moved me to re-post some of what I had shared. I love the Prophet Joseph Smith! I feel so thankful for his sacrifices and his willingness to be an instrument in God’s hands for restoring so much that means everything to me. I love it that his birthday is so close to the time when we celebrate the birth of the Savior. The Beloved Son of God, and another of God’s sons who was and is also greatly loved. One early morning I was reading Joseph Smith’s history from The Pearl of Great Price. It’s a story I’ve read many times, and it’s a story I’ve shared with others many, many times. But I wanted to go slowly and pay attention (with no “been there, done that” feelings). As I did, some thoughts came to my mind.  I’ll share them the best I can. Joseph had questions. Perhaps he even had doubts. He was wondering which church he should join. Some family members had joined a church. But he was confused at all the contention. As he described it, those who had been so loving at one moment were the opposite the next (when some of their members began to join other sects). You know what happens. Joseph realizes he lacks wisdom and needs to ask God. I wish I could and would turn that direction more often. I sat really thinking about it. Do I have faith that I’ll receive an answer if I lack wisdom? Do I have enough faith to ask Him? The father of evil tried to keep Joseph from receiving an answer, because he knew it would change everything. EVERYTHING! Maybe sometimes when we feel like asking questions we will feel some opposition, some darkness, some negative influence. I’m so thankful a young boy didn’t give up. I don’t want to give up either. I know we’re all surrounded by those who are no longer believers. I know they dig up negative things about the Prophet Joseph Smith. Once they doubt him, the other dominoes fall—they no longer believe that The Book of Mormon is the word of God. And although they may say they still believe in and follow Christ, how is that possible when HE is the One Who appeared to Joseph, and HE is the One Who has continued to provide guidance and revelation to every Prophet who has followed Joseph. Joseph was told by Moroni that his name “should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people.” (JS-H 1:33).  I always thought that would happen because of enemies of the Church, enemies of righteousness and of God.  I mourn (I really do mourn) that so many of those who have believed no longer believe, and that they speak evil of the Prophet Joseph Smith.


I’m deeply thankful for how I feel about Joseph Smith.  I love him.  Sometimes when I’m thinking about him and praying about him – thanking Heavenly Father for him and all the others who remained true and faithful at great sacrifice – I have feelings come into my heart. One of the strong ones is this: “Millions shall know Brother Joseph again!” And yes, it is usually accompanied by “Praise to the man who communed with Jehovah!”  It is a strong, deep desire of my heart that I can be one of those millions – that when I see him again I will KNOW HIM.  I will know that he IS all that he said he was, that he DID experience ALL that he said he did… that I can look on him with JOY, knowing that I never doubted.  Never.  I love this message which was carved in a hearthstone from the old Solomon Mack home years after Joseph’s birth:  AROUND THIS HEARTHSTONE AND ITS GLOWING FIREPLACE, TWO DAYS BEFORE CHRISTMAS, 1805, THE SMITH FAMILY WASHED, DRESSED, AND CUDDLED THE FUTURE ORGANIZER OF “GOD’S KINGDOM RESTORED.”




This is a repeat from last year. But FEI convinced me that some of you DID NOT TRY HER RECIPE!! Therefore, she insisted it be posted again (sigh… or make that SNORT!) Fei likes to call it “Piggy Pudding.”  Whatever.  This is being published due to popular demand (and you might be asking “Who demanded this???”).  Fei has guarded this recipe a long time – she said it’s from an OLD “family recipe,” one which has made “HOGS” of many of us through the years.  HERE WE GO!


PIGGY/FIGGY PUDDING INGREDIENTS:  4 cans (No. 2) Figgies in light syrup / One box Figgy sauce / 3 hard-boiled Figgies, unpeeled / 2 dozen diced Figgies / 7 kippered Figgies / 4 pints Figgy juice / 4 small cans Figgy juice concentrate / 1 Tb Figgy extract / 3 boxes chocolate covered Figgies


DIRECTIONS: Remove the chocolate from the chocolate-covered Figgies and mix all the ingredients together.  Boil to a lumpy consistency.  Now remove all of the diced figgies from the mixture.  Toss it all into a large vat (if you don’t have a large enough vat, just turn your bath tub over on its side and use that).  Swish it around.  Let it solidify (and it really WILL solidify!).  Serve to as many as can stand it.  (Caution: This might reverse any tooth-whitening procedure that anyone in your party has undergone)


Good luck . . . and MERRY CHRISTMAS! Love, MEE (And IF you happen to try to make this, you MUST let MEE know!!! And you MUST send PICTURES!!! HA HA HA HA HA)



P.S. If any of you don’t know who Fei is, read about her on the main page of the Blog.  She’s right up there with MEE.  “About Fei.”  MERRY, MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!




I am one who strongly believes that we need to be conscious of keeping CHRIST in CHRISTMAS. But I also love the sweet magic of Santa, which adds to the love and joy and excitement of Christmas. I ran across this story (which many of you may have seen already) which touched my heart and soul so deeply. I hope you’ll enjoy it too.


This is Santa – Eric Schmitt-Matzen. He shares his love and magical joy in Knoxville, Tennessee.  A columnist (Sam Venable) shared an experience which Santa had. When I read the story, I cried. It touched my heart and soul so deeply. The story begins when Santa got a call after work. “It was a nurse I know at the hospital,” Schmitt-Matzen told the News-Sentinel. “She said there was a very sick 5-year-old boy who wanted to see Santa Claus.” Schmitt-Matzen, whose 300-pound frame and REAL white beard make him a popular Santa in the Knoxville area, got to the hospital in 15 minutes and requested that anyone leave the room if they were about to cry. Here is what happened, as related by this wonderful Santa:  ‘”They say I’m gonna die,’ he told me. “How can I tell when I get to where I’m going?” “I said, ‘Can you do me a big favor?'” “He said, ‘Sure!'” “When you get there, you tell ’em you’re Santa’s Number One elf, and I know they’ll let you in.” “He said, ‘They will?'” “I said, ‘Sure!'” “He kinda sat up and gave me a big hug and asked one more question: ‘Santa, can you help me?'”  “I wrapped my arms around him. Before I could say anything, he died right there. I let him stay, just kept hugging and holding on to him.”  After the boy’s family realized that he had died, Schmitt-Matzen said he left the hospital and cried all the way home. “I was a basket case for three days. It took me a week or two to stop thinking about it all the time” … “Actually, I thought I might crack up and never be able to play the part again.”  Schmitt-Matzen considered hanging up his red suit, but then he saw some children laughing and playing, and he changed his mind. “It made me realize the role I get to play,” said the part-time Santa. His is a different Christmas story than most of them, but oh how glad I am that he shared it! Bless you, dear Santa! Here’s a huge SHOUT-OUT to you from a very small Blog “out west….”  God bless you!

And here’s a picture of Santa and “Mrs. Claus.”




I might get in “Big Trouble” for posting this, because I didn’t ask for permission . . . but I’m going to do it anyway. It happified me SO MUCH! And I think it brings the sweet, powerful “spirit of Christmas” to my heart. So here goes: A SHOUT OUT to Ruth and Lisa. Ruth is our stake Primary president, and Lisa is one of her counselors. They both have a streak of FUN in them, combined with a generous amount of kindness and goodness. So on Thursday, they put on Santa hats, got some jingle bells, and went to the Post Office with 3 dozen glazed donuts!! YES! They went along (doing their “HO HO HO” thing!), passing out the donuts to all the people in the long, LONG line (we all know what it’s like at this time of year). They also shared with the P.O. workers, who, they said, acted like they couldn’t believe that there was actually someone SMILING – some SMILING going on in that place! They said it was a bunch of FUN! It makes MEE smile just thinking about everyone there and what might have been their reaction. Things like “Why didn’t I think of that?” Or “Oh what a KIND thing to do!” Or even some feelings of “I shouldn’t be so impatient and obnoxious when I’m in a long line….”  And the reason this is a SHOUT OUT is that it takes a lot of LOVE (combined with courage, kindness, and the CHILD inside) to pull off something like that. So here’s to YOU, Ruth and Lisa!! THANK YOU for shining such a happy, bright LIGHT, for being so courageous and hilarious, and for helping to spread the JOY that is Christmas!! (I think it might be INFECTIOUS! Note to those reading: Are YOU thinking of perhaps doing something similar??)






Christmas Trees

THE FOLLOWING IS A PIECE WRITTEN BY BEN STEIN (I don’t know when it was written, but I like his style). And I LOVE CHRISTMAS TREES!


Apparently the White House referred to Christmas Trees as Holiday Trees for the first time this year, which prompted Ben Stein, to say, on CBS Sunday Morning,


My confession: I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejewelled trees, Christmas trees. I don’t feel threatened. I don’t feel discriminated against. That’s what they are, Christmas trees.
It doesn’t bother me a bit when people say, ‘Merry Christmas’ to me. I don’t think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn’t bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a nativity scene, it’s just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.
I don’t like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don’t think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from, that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can’t find it in the Constitution and I don’t like it being shoved down my throat.
Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship celebrities and we aren’t allowed to worship God? I guess that’s a sign that I’m getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where these celebrities came from and where the America we knew went to. In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different: This is not intended to be a joke; it’s not funny, it’s intended to get you thinking.

Billy Graham’s daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her ‘How could God let something like this happen?’ (regarding Hurricane Katrina). Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response. She said, ‘I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we’ve been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives.And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?’
In light of recent events… terrorist attacks, school shootings, etc. I think it started when Madeleine Murray O’Hare (she was murdered, her body found a few years ago) complained she didn’t want prayer in our schools, and we said OK. Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school. The Bible says thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said OK.
Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn’t spank our children when they misbehave, because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr. Spock’s son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he’s talking about. And we said okay.
Now we’re asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don’t know right from wrong, and why it doesn’t bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.
Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with ‘WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.’
Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world’s going to hell.
Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says.
Funny how you can send ‘jokes’ through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing.
Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace.
Are you laughing yet?
My Best Regards, Honestly and respectfully,
Ben Stein






Yep… I’m sharing a LONG post about GRATITUDE. And yes, it’s the day AFTER Thanksgiving. It occurred to me that I need a reminder to be grateful ALWAYS – every single day of my life – and not just on a certain day, or during a certain season. So as you enjoy your turkey sandwich, return with mee to many thoughts on GRATITUDE. I hope I can share some ideas which will be thought-provoking – which will cause us to have a desire to THINK – to PONDER our need for GRATITUDE, for giving THANKS. You might be interested to know that I looked up every single verse of scripture which dealt with gratitude … and I think you’ll be grateful to know that I’m NOT going to list them all (do I hear a “WHEW” ??). Interestingly, the word GRATITUDE does not appear anywhere in scripture.  It was a short search… the word used is THANKS. But YOU already knew that, didn’t you. I’m not going to share everything I found (more WHEW!).  There are so many times in scripture where an altar was built and a sacrifice offered to GIVE THANKS. Lehi and his family have just left Jerusalem and the good life they had there (they apparently didn’t bring a lot of “precious stuff” with them, because later the sons went back to Jerusalem and tried to purchase the Brass Plates with the wealth that was still in their home)  So here they are in the wilderness, living in tents rather than in their nice home, and here is what the Prophet Lehi did: And it came to pass that he built an altar of stones, and made an offering unto the Lord, and gave thanks unto the Lord our God. (1 Nephi 2:7) He had a wonderful perspective, didn’t he. PERSPECTIVE and AWARENESS can bring deep, deep feelings of gratitude. We no longer build alters of stone to offer sacrifices as a way of expressing gratitude to our Heavenly Father. OUR sacrifice is a BROKEN HEART and a CONTRITE SPIRIT. Consider these as ways to offer gratitude as we go back to Lehi and family for a moment: Lehi did send his sons back to Jerusalem to get the Brass Plates, and it took them longer than their Mother thought it should, and she began to get upset with Lehi. But the boys returned, with the plates, and both parents were joyful. And it came to pass that they did rejoice exceedingly, and did offer sacrifice and burnt offerings unto the Lord; and they gave thanks unto the God of Israel. (1 Nephi 5:9). Rejoicing is a great way to give thanks.

One of the best ways to show gratitude to our Heavenly Father is through service. King Benjamin taught this so powerfully: Mosiah 2:17-19: And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God. Behold, ye have called me your king; and if I, whom ye call your king, do labor to serve you, then ought not ye to labor to serve one another? And behold also, if I, whom ye call your king, who has spent his days in your service, and yet has been in the service of God, do merit any thanks from you, o how you ought to thank your Heavenly King!  When Alma Senior had baptized all the believers in the Waters of Mormon, he taught them what it meant to be members of Christ’s Church, including this: And he commanded them that they should observe the sabbath day, and keep it holy, and also every day they should give thanks to the Lord their God. (Mosiah 18:23)  Jacob taught the importance of gratitude in the amazing message about the Atonement:  (2 Nephi 9:52) . . .  remember the words of your God; pray unto him continually by day, and give thanks unto his holy name by night. Let your hearts rejoice. After Alma and his people had received Heavenly Help in escaping from the bondage of the Lamanites and Amulonites (by causing a deep sleep to come upon those who were guarding them):  . . . they poured out their thanks to God because he had been merciful unto them, and eased their burdens, and had delivered them out of bondage . . . . . . And they gave thanks to God, yea, all their men and all their women and all their children that could speak lifted their voices in the praises of their God. (Mosiah 24:21-22) And “listen” to this, which the Lord gave to us through the Prophet Joseph Smith: And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious: and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, YEA, more.(Doctrine and Covenants 78:19). I love it so much when I read YEA in the scriptures!

I consider gratitude one of the highest forms of Christ-like behavior. It is the ESSENCE of WORSHIP! Gratitude is what happens when our hearts remember. It turns what we have into enough. It is the primary factor in achieving contentment.(One of my favorite definitions contentment is: “tranquil happiness.” Love it!! The Apostle Paul shared something which has had me pondering since I first really thought about it as I read it (I Timothy 6:6-8: 6- But GODLINESS WITH CONTENTMENT is great gain.7- For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.8- And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. There can be NO contentment without gratitude! No way!  Gratitude is one of the most important desires of our heart. And Cicero called gratitude the Mother of ALL virtues! I’ve become more conscious of the fact that I need an increased awareness of all the tender mercies and blessings and miracles which have surrounded me unnoticed … and for which I have not expressed thanks. I want to become much more AWARE. I am convinced it will increase and deepen my gratitude.

Ingratitude is a sin! Plain and simple! And it happens mostly because we don’t take time to remember. (That’s a very important word, isn’t it!). Ingratitude is one of the weapons used by whnf (what’s-his-no-face) to thwart the purposes of God. Ingratitude is self‑centeredness and is a form of pride. Selfishness, greed, and indifference are all by-products of ingratitude. Elder W. Eugene Hansen shared this: It has been said that the sin of ingratitude is more serious than the sin of revenge.  With revenge, we return evil for evil, but with ingratitude, we return evil for good.  (Ensign, Nov 1989, p. 24) President N. Eldon Tanner said that ingratitude is stronger than traitors’ arms. (Conference Report, October 1967, p.54). The Prophet Joseph Smith said that one of the greatest sins for which the Latter-day Saints are guilty is the sin of ingratitude. (Elder Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, October 1948, p.98). And this from President Joseph Fielding Smith: How much happier we are in the presence of a grateful and loving soul, and how careful we should be to cultivate, through the medium of a prayerful life, a thankful attitude. I believe that one of the greatest sins of which the inhabitants of the earth are guilty today is the sin of ingratitude, the want of acknowledgment, on their part, of the Lord and his right to govern and control. (Conference Report, October 1969, p.110). Selfishness and ingratitude are destructive!

Here are two verses from the Doctrine and Covenants (59:7, 21) worth thinking about:  7- Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things. (In ALL THINGS!… not just those which are pleasant, easy, enjoyable and so forth). 21-  And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments. As President Marion G. Romney taught: It is perfectly evident… that to thank the Lord in all things is not merely a courtesy, it is a commandment as binding upon us as any other commandment. (Ensign, November 1982, p. 50)  Sir Izaak Waltong (an English author who lived 1593-1683… it makes me happy that things were recorded “back then”): God has two dwelling places: one in heaven, and the other in a thankful heart – which, O Lord, grant to me. President J. Reuben Clark, Jr. said this: Hold fast to the blessings which God has provided for you. Yours is not the task to gain them – they are here. Yours is the part of cherishing them. (Church News, 14 June 1969, p. 2)  From President David O. McKay: Gratitude is the heart’s recognition of kindness that the lips cannot repay.” (Conference Report, October 1955, p. 4)  And from President Gordon B. Hinckley: … get on your knees and thank the Lord for his bounties. Cultivate a spirit of thanksgiving for the blessing of life and for the marvelous gifts and privileges you enjoy. The Lord has said, “The meek shall inherit the earth.” (See Matt. 5:5.) I cannot escape the interpretation that meekness implies a spirit of gratitude as opposed to an attitude of self-sufficiency, an acknowledgment of a greater power beyond oneself, a recognition of God and an acceptance of his commandments. This is the beginning of wisdom. (Conference Report, October 1964, p. 117)


It has occurred to me that I might have neglected to thank Heavenly Father for FIVE pennies if I’m constantly complaining because I don’t have TEN! And they ALL belong to HIM anyway! In General Conference in April of 1990, President James E. Faust shared a message entitled “Gratitude is a Binding Commandment.” He emphasized that gratitude is not only an expression of faith, but is a saving principle (and a binding commandment). He reminded us that we are blessed in many ways, and that when we express gratitude we are involved in the essence of worship. Quoting him: A grateful heart is a beginning for greatness. It is an expression of humility. It is a foundation for the development of such virtues and prayer, faith, courage, contentment, happiness, love, and well-being. [WOW!!]  The thankful heart opens our eyes to a multitude of blessings that continually surround us. He said that “One of the evils of our time is taking for granted so many of the things we enjoy.” And he closed his remarks with: I hope that we can cultivate grateful hearts so that we may cherish the multitude of blessings that God has so graciously bestowed. May we openly express such gratitude to our Father in Heaven and our fellowmen. (“Gratitude As a Saving Principle,” Ensign, May 1990).  I noticed that he reminded us to thank others as well as our Heavenly Father. In re-reading this, I have thought of many things for which I haven’t expressed thanks in a long, long time…. Maybe you can think of some things too. Here’s a hymn which can reminds us of some of these things: NOW THANK WE ALL OUR GOD  (Hymn #95)  Now thank we all our God With hearts and hands and voices, Who wondrous things hath done,  In whom his earth rejoices; Who from our mothers’ arms,  Hath blessed us on our way  With countless gifts of love,  And still is ours today.  Oh, may our bounteous God  Through all our life be near us,  With ever-joyful hearts  And blessed peace to cheer us.  And keep us in his love, And guide us day and night,  And free us from all ills, Protect us by his might.

Harold S. Kushner is a favorite writer and speaker of mine. He is Rabbi Laureate of Temple Israel in Natick, Massachusetts. He spoke at BYU several years ago, and I’d already read some of his books and oh how I loved his message!  He has shared some wonderful thoughts about gratitude: Once we have learned to see our lives as the accumulation of gifts that God has given us, gifts we could not have acquired by our own efforts, once we have learned to appreciate what we have, rather than complain that we don’t have more, because we could have had nothing, we can respond in several ways. First, we can reciprocate God’s generosity by giving Him our thanks and our trust….   Second, if we have benefited from God’s generosity, it becomes our obligation to let others benefit from our generosity, or more accurately from God’s generosity flowing through us to those to whom we reach out.  The remarkable thing about gratitude is that, like forgiveness, it is a favor we do ourselves more than it is something we do for the recipient of our thanks. God would have us develop the habit of gratitude for all the blessings of our lives, not because He needs our thanks, but because when we acknowledge those blessings we come to feel differently about His world and live happier lives as a result. Learn to see more of the “givens” of your life as gifts. Learn to respond to the sun’s coming up every morning as a miracle. Our ability to receive God’s blessings with thanksgiving will never outstrip God’s ability to bless us! If gratitude is so basic and so beneficial, if it makes us happier about our lives, why is it hard for so many people to cultivate the habit of feeling grateful? I can think of [some] reasons. One is a sense of entitlement. If we have grown up believing that we deserve only the best, we will respond to every gift, whether from God or from friends, like the petulant child who examines a new toy and complains, “I want the newer model.” For people who feel entitled, it is not enough to be alive and well; they resent every blemish, every limitation on their physical grace and athletic skill. It is not enough for them to have a loving partner and healthy children; they envy the glamorous romances of celebrities and the honor roll achievements of the children next door. They are never satisfied because they measure their wealth not by what they have but by what they lack.


Here is a thought I found which is similar to the message of Hymn # 219 (“Because I Have Been Given Much”). It’s from Janie Alford, The Treasure Chest, p. 216 – THANKS BE TO GOD

I do not thank thee, Lord, That I have bread to eat while others starve;  Nor yet for work to do  While empty hands solicit heaven;  Nor for a body strong  While other bodies flatten beds of pain.  No, not for these do I give thanks!  But I am grateful, Lord, Because my meager loaf I may divide;  For that my busy hands May move to meet another’s need;  Because my doubled strength I may expend to steady one who faints.  Yes, for all these do I give thanks!  For heart to share, desire to bear  And will to lift,  Flamed into one by deathless Love –  Thanks be to God for this! Unspeakable!  His Gift!

PSALMS 136:1 – O give thanks unto the LORD; for [he is] good: for his mercy [endureth] for ever.