Your family probably has some great Thanksgiving traditions. Turkey. Pie. Football. Many families go around the table to share something that they are thankful for. But why? Does it really matter if we “give thanks”?
In a word… YES.
Social science research that clearly shows how gratitude positively impacts our own happiness, energy level, relationships, and overall wellbeing. Beyond the positive impact on our own hearts and souls, gratitude helps us build relationships with people and maintain a healthy life perspective.
An American Tradition
If we look backwards through history at how and why Thanksgiving came to be a national holiday, it has solidly Christian roots. Take a look through the Book of Common Prayer and you’ll see numerous prayers of thanks-giving to God Almighty. When life is hard, as it was for the earliest European settlers on American soil, we can complain and grumble, or we can give thanks for the good things that we do have.
The holiday itself here in the USA was first proclaimed by Abraham Lincoln. I encourage you to reflect on his words this Thanksgiving season:
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come… No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. (1863)
This speech was given in the midst of the Civil War. Thousands of families were torn apart, losing loved ones, sacrificing for the sake of a war effort in their own homeland. Is that a natural time to give thanks? Do we recognize the blessings within our seasons of suffering and shame?
Give Thanks to the Right Person
Ultimately, the Person we need to say “thank you” to is God himself. God created us to be in relationship with Him, thankful for his good gifts and observant to who He is and what He has done for us.
Gratitude is a core Christian trait. How can we be anything but thankful when we reflect on everything God has done for us? If you’ve taken a breath while reading this post, you have something to be thankful for.
This Thanksgiving holiday, may we not “forget the source from which” these blessings come. May we recognize “the gracious gifts of the Most High God” today, and share that thankfulness with those around us.