—Doctrine and Covenants 59:7
Gratitude is being aware of and appreciating blessings and kindnesses given to us. We can express it through sincere words of thanks and through actions that show our appreciation. An increased spirit of gratitude will bring increased joy into our lives.
What does gratitude mean to you?
Compare your answers with the gospel truth above. Also, see Doctrine and Covenants 78:19. Then tell the following story to help family members understand that warm, loving feelings come when we show gratitude.
Laura received many nice gifts for her birthday, but when she opened the package from her grandmother, a deep, warm feeling came over her. The gift was a beautiful handmade doll. As Laura touched the carefully braided hair, the embroidered face, and the lacy dress she thought of the time it must have taken for grandma to make this doll. Grandma’s eyesight was failing, and sewing by hand was becoming difficult for her. Laura ran to grandma and hugged her tightly. “Oh, thank you, grandma,” she whispered. Grandma hugged her back. She knew Laura loved the doll and that her many hours of work were appreciated. Best of all, she knew that Laura loved her.
Discuss the feelings of love that Laura and her grandmother shared because Laura felt grateful and showed her gratitude. Ask family members to tell how they have felt when someone has expressed gratitude to them.
Tell the story of the ten lepers (Luke 17:11–18).
How did the one leper show his gratitude? (Reread Luke 17:15–16 if necessary.) Point out that although the nine were no doubt happy to be healed, they did not think of the source of their blessing or go back to thank Jesus.
What experience did the ungrateful nine miss? (They missed the opportunity of expressing gratitude and love to the Savior.)
Read Doctrine and Covenants 59:7 together. To help your family determine how well they obey this commandment, have each person write down two blessings they have received from Heavenly Father and two kindnesses or gifts they have received from other people. Then have them write by each blessing or gift the name of the person who gave it to them and how they showed gratitude to that person. Discuss how showing gratitude can help us feel closer to the giver of a gift or blessing.
Sing “Count Your Blessings” (Hymns, no. 241). Then have each family member make a list of his blessings. Be sure to include some of the blessings of the gospel. Have each person choose one blessing from the list and tell how life would be different without that blessing.
Read aloud Mosiah 2:19–24 to help your family feel the spirit of gratitude expressed by a great prophet, King Benjamin.
What blessings did King Benjamin say we should thank our Heavenly Father for?
What does Heavenly Father want us to do for him to show our gratitude? (See Mosiah 2:22.)
Ask your family to think of one thing they have done during the past week to show their gratitude to Heavenly Father and Jesus.
What more can you do? (Express thanks through prayer, more often and more sincerely; pay tithes and offerings with feelings of love; study scriptures daily; attend Church and worship reverently, especially during the sacrament.)
Each member of the family might make a commitment to show more gratitude to Heavenly Father and Jesus.
Talk together about what you would like to thank Heavenly Father for in the closing prayer of this home evening.
To help your family feel grateful to be a part of a family, tell this make-believe story: A boy dreamed he came home from playing baseball and found his home had disappeared. He wandered around forlornly, thinking, “I have no place to eat or sleep, and no one to be with.” Then he woke up.
Ask family members to imagine how it would be to have no place to eat, no bed to sleep in, no one to cook their meals or care for them when they were ill. Ask them to name other privileges they may be taking for granted.
Invite family members to name ways they have shown gratitude for the privilege of belonging to your family and what they can do to show more gratitude in the future.
Tell the following story as an example of how one mother expresses gratitude to her family:
A mother with three children had few worldly goods. On birthdays and other special days, the most she could give her children was a small homemade toy. However, she always did something else that was worth more than the most expensive toy. On each child’s birthday, she would call him into the bedroom and have him sit in a chair. Then she would kneel down to pray. In her prayer, she would thank Heavenly Father for blessing her with this child. She would mention the joys the child had given her and pray for his continued health and happiness.
Have family members express their gratitude for each other. Be sure everyone is included. Discuss what family members can do to express gratitude for each other. Family members might relate an instance or two when gratitude was expressed to them. Have them tell what they felt at the time.
Review the story of the nine lepers (Luke 17:11–19). Discuss that the lepers were probably not in the habit of showing their gratitude for a blessing received.
Read Alma 34:38.
Why is it important to make a habit of feeling and expressing gratitude constantly, not just now and then?
After the song, discuss how important it is to thank our Heavenly Father in all our prayers. It does not matter who we are or where we live, we all receive great blessings we should be thankful for.
Here are some suggestions to help your family express gratitude daily:
During a meal, invite family members to tell of something they have received from Heavenly Father, other members of the family, or others for which they feel grateful.
Keep the list of blessings made during the home evening. Have each person place this list in a drawer or on a mirror where it will be seen often and add to it from time to time.
Occasionally, let the family spend a home evening expressing their gratitude for blessings and kindnesses they have received, as individuals and as a family.
Think of other ways your family can make gratitude a habit.
Psalm 136:1–26 (Give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good.)
Psalm 147:1–20 (It is good to sing praises to our God.)
Isaiah 12:1–6 (O Lord, I will praise thee.)
1 Corinthians 15:55, 57 (Thanks be to God, who sent his Son.)
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (Give thanks in everything.)
2 Nephi 9:52 (Give thanks to God at night.)
Mosiah 26:39 (Pray always and give thanks in all things.)
Doctrine and Covenants 98:1 (In everything give thanks.)
Doctrine and Covenants 59:20–21 (We offend God when we are ungrateful.)
See also “Ingratitude” in the Topical Guide.
“We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet,” Hymns, no. 19.
“Father, Thy Children to Thee Now Raise,” Hymns, no. 91.
“Can a Little Child like Me,” Children’s Songbook, p. 9.
“My Heavenly Father Loves Me,” Children’s Songbook, p. 228.
“The Gift,” on the videocassette The Worth of Souls (53147).