I’ve always had a bit of a sour attitude about going to the movies, mostly because it seems like a lot of money to spend just to go and shush my children in public for a few hours. But when the new Pixar movie Coco came out, my 10-year-old daughter begged me to take her to see it, and my 7-year-old son promised to be good, so I decided to be brave and take them.
Before I go further, I should explain a little bit about my family. My husband is from Peru, and I am from the United States. We kind of have “his and hers” kids when you look at them. My son looks more like me and my family, and my daughter looks more like her dad and his family. For my daughter, though, these affinities go deeper than appearance. She feels a strong connection to her Peruvian side and all things Latino. Sometimes it makes me a little angry that she feels this way because I want her to love her heritage from my side just as much as she does her dad’s. I know, I should just be glad she feels connected to her heritage at all, but I am still working on that.
Back to the story. We made it to the movies, bought the popcorn and candy, and settled in to see the show. If you haven’t seen Coco yet, I won’t spoil it for you, but it’s a great story of the deep and eternal bonds of family even across the boundary of death.
Toward the end of the movie, I looked over at my daughter and saw that she was crying. She let me hold her hand for a few minutes (because it was dark, I think) while the story’s little hero helped repair the damage caused by old grudges, hurt feelings, and unresolved conflicts in his family. I’m not sure the movie’s creators knew that they would be teaching the plan of salvation through this story, but that was exactly what came to my mind as we talked about the movie afterward.
A few days later, my daughter asked me who would be on the ofrenda (the wall of family pictures and memories) for our family. This gave me the chance to tell her about a few family members she did not know. Thanks to the Family Tree app, I could even show her some of their pictures. I told her about my maternal grandmother, who always kept fudge in her refrigerator to share with any friend who might drop in, and my great-grandfather, who was so neat and clean that people said they could eat off the engine in his car. I told her about my great-grandmother, who had a fine sewing hand, fiery red hair, and a temper to match. The pictures and stories of several other ancestors were there at our fingertips.
By the end of the conversation, my daughter felt a deeper connection to her ancestors, and I felt a deeper connection to her. I realized that I needed to save my memories of these people for my future grandchildren so that they could also know those on our ofrenda. I also realized that saving such memories could be as easy as chatting with my daughter. Elder Dale G. Renlund has said that through family history and temple work, we can have the “power to turn the hearts of [our] family together and heal that which needs healing.” I felt a little of that power—of God’s power—at work in my own family, thanks to the blessings of family history work, the Family Tree app, and a movie.
Who is on your family’s ofrenda?