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Thanksgiving is one of those marvelous holidays that has religious roots, reminding us to thank God for our blessings. Many families express their thanks on this special day, from little kids writing what they’re thankful for on autumn leaves, to chalkboards filled with thought clouds of gratitude, to the tradition of going around the feast table and sharing one thing you’re grateful for. (This, by the way, has become a comedy extravaganza at our house, as we do it alphabetically and our kids try to think of the craziest things imaginable for whatever letters land on them.)
But I just learned of a wonderful idea I wish I had known when my children were younger. It’s called White Friday. We all know that Black Friday, the day right after Thanksgiving, is a huge retail shopping day. But one family in my ward has chosen not to shop, but instead to don white clothing and perform temple baptisms and other ordinances in the temple.
They try to involve as much extended family as possible, and they’ve noticed several other families who have the same idea. What a glorious way to express our gratitude for Heavenly Father’s plan of eternal families, and what a great way to share that blessing with departed loved ones who’ve been waiting for their ordinance work to be done (and many of those ancestors probably feel a Thanksgiving of their own on this day).
Prior to Thanksgiving, families can simply log in to familysearch.org on their cell phones or home computers, click “ordinance ready,” and print out names they can take to the temple. Even children who are too young to perform baptisms can help gather slips of paper, see photos of these relatives, and hear stories that bring their lives to life.
Youngsters can create Family History Newsletters online (sharing funny stories, recipes, warm memories, even historical facts of the time periods), or create a Family History Board Game where a roll of the dice can take you to the very spot overseas where great-great-grandpa was born, or to the temple where Aunt Susie served a mission. Older ones can get involved with indexing, a fabulous alternative to video game playing.
My friend shared another of her White Friday ideas: Her kids prepare “temple passports.” They keep as many finished ordinance cards as they can, whenever they travel and at home as well. Then they compile them into a booklet. This becomes a great way to mark progress and see all the fun places where they’ve gone as a family, and all the temples where they’ve been able to do this important work. You could also include family photos each time.
Truly, Thanksgiving is a time to remember that we’re all overpaid. Jesus Christ has atoned for our sins and redeemed us. Not only will we live again, but we can repent and hope to live with our Savior and our Father in Heaven again. Incredible. There is no way ever to balance those scales; we are forever humbled by our debt to Him and His generosity with us.
But perhaps we can make this holiday a notch better. Instead of merely counting what we have, we can count what we’re able to give back. That ability to offer ordinances to our loved ones is the ultimate way to express genuine appreciation, and connect families forever.
Hilton’s newest work, A Little Christmas Prayer, is destined to become a Christmas classic. This tale, for any reader of any faith, teaches us all the magic of gratitude. All her books and Youtube Mom videos can be found on her website. She currently serves as an Interfaith Specialist for Public Affairs.