And now I would that ye … always [return] thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive (Alma 7:23).
“Roberto,” Mamá called. “Time for dinner!”
Roberto forgot all about the cars he was playing with and ran to the table. Papá and Carlos were already sitting in their places. Roberto could smell his favorite food, a steaming bowl of fideos. He climbed into his seat and reached for the slippery noodles.
“Roberto, did you forget something?” Papá asked.
Roberto slid down and raced to the bathroom. He washed his hands and dried them quickly. Mamá was just sitting down at the table when Roberto got back. He climbed up on the chair beside her and reached for the noodles again.
This time Mamá stopped him. “Roberto, have you forgotten something?” Roberto looked around. Everyone’s arms were folded, and Carlos was bowing his head. Roberto folded his arms and bowed his head too. Papá asked Carlos to pray.
Roberto heard Carlos thank Heavenly Father for the food, but then Roberto began to think about Mamá’s yummy fideos and he didn’t listen to the rest of the prayer. As soon as Carlos said “Amen,” Roberto grabbed the serving spoon. He piled the noodles on his plate until Mamá took the spoon away.
“Eat that much,” she said. “Then if you’re still hungry, you can have more.”
When he finished all the noodles on his plate, Roberto wasn’t hungry at all. He couldn’t eat one more bite, not even when Mamá brought out the flan she had made for dessert. He watched Carlos smile as he spooned the custard into his bowl. Roberto wished everyone would hurry and finish so that he could go back to his cars.
At last Papá leaned back and smiled at Mamá. “That was wonderful,” he said. “Thank you.”
“Yes, thank you, Mamá,” said Carlos.
“May I be excused?” Roberto asked.
Roberto played until bedtime. Carlos helped him make buildings and houses out of blocks. They made tunnels to drive their cars under. They were almost done making a city when Mamá announced, “Bedtime.”
After their prayers, Papá told Roberto and Carlos a story. It was a story from the Bible about when Jesus Christ helped ten men who were lepers. “Do you know what a leper is, Roberto?” Papá asked.
“A big cat!”
Papá laughed. “No, that’s a leopard. Lepers are people who are very sick—so sick that sometimes they have to go away and live by themselves. The Savior made the lepers well again so they could go home and live with their families. But only one of the men remembered to say thank you.”
“Oh,” Roberto said. “Why?”
“I don’t know why they didn’t thank Jesus. What do you think, Carlos?”
Carlos thought for a moment. “I think they were so happy to go home that they forgot all about it.”
Papá nodded. “And what do you think, Roberto?”
Roberto suddenly jumped out of his bed. “Just a minute,” he said. “I remembered something.” He ran downstairs.
Mamá was putting away the dinner dishes. She was surprised to see Roberto. “Aren’t you supposed to be in bed?”
“I have to tell you something first. You made my favorite food for me, but I forgot to say gracias (thank you).”
Mamá smiled. “You’re welcome. I like to do things for you, especially when you remember to say thank you.”
Roberto ran back upstairs to his bedroom. Carlos was listening to Papá finish the story. “Thank you for playing with me today,” Roberto told Carlos. “And thank you, Papá, for telling me stories about Jesus.”
“You’re welcome,” Papá said and turned off the light. “Good night, Roberto. Good night, Carlos.”
But Roberto didn’t go right to sleep. He lay still and thought of the many things he was thankful for. He felt happy, and he wished he could give Heavenly Father a hug. At last he slipped out of bed and said another prayer. This time he really meant it when he thanked Heavenly Father for fideos, and for Mamá, Papá, and Carlos. “And gracias,” he added, “for helping me remember to say gracias.”