Gift Giving and New Year’s Resolutions

by G.G. Vandagriff

This time of the year we turn our thoughts to our loved ones, to the less fortunate among us, and to the miracle of the atonement.

As I was sitting in the temple today, doing a vicarious endowment for an ancestor from a tiny village on the Volga River, I contemplated very carefully what I was doing. If I could choose any gift in all the universe, in all time and all eternity to give this woman who lived in such difficult circumstances, what gift would I choose?

The atonement stands supreme in the history of a multitude of worlds as the greatest gift ever given. Because of it, we have the chance to be eternally free of Satan and of our own sins, shortcomings, and unfortunate circumstances. It is literally beauty for ashes. It is the recompense for all the sorrows of mankind. I have chosen to make it part of my life through faith, repentance, baptism, and the temple covenants. This is, in many ways, the privilege of my birth and lineage.

In our gift-giving have we ever considered giving the gift of the atonement? Ultimately, only Christ can save, but we can grant the opportunity for our ancestors to grasp the blessings of the atonement by finding them and doing their ordinances by proxy. Surely, these progenitors should be high on our list of those less fortunate we traditionally remember at this time of year. And just because they have gone on before us, are they any less family than those who dwell with us in this life? It is their sacrifice that has made it possible for us to live in this world Just as we work for our posterity to inherit a better world, so did they work for us.

I do not live on the Volga, carrying water from the river on buckets across my shoulders. I live in a house with running water, close to a temple and a genealogy library. I am accountable for these blessings.

As we look to the New Year, let us include in our New Year’s resolutions some basic steps to further our family history work.


1.Find some new genealogy lists on the Internet that will help you locate your family. (I just found a man in Russia through the Internet who has access to the archives there and will do research for me!)

2.Write letters to your aging relatives, quizzing them about their memories of family and the existence of old family heirlooms, letters, photo albums, journals, etc.

3.Make a goal for temple attendance and keep it.

4.Organize your family history and make an action list for at least one line. Then take action!

5.Start a family organization. Find out what work has been done and what you can do.


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


2001 Meridian Magazine.  All Rights Reserved.