ThanksgivingIt’s Thanksgiving week, complete with turkey, Turkey Trot “races,” parades, football games, and family.

This time of year, there’s a lot of public expressions of thankfulness–online, in commercials, on talk shows and news shows. People share what they are thankful for, but sometimes I wonder, in our secular (post-Christian) society, who exactly are people thanking?

Don’t get me wrong. It’s a very good thing to be thankful to our parents, our spouses, our co-workers and friends. For what they do for us, working hard to provide for us, their encouragement, and just “being there” for us.

But that’s not really why the Thanksgiving holiday was established. What we know as the first Thanksgiving in America took place after a very difficult year endured by the Pilgrims. One man, H.U. Westermayer, wrote, “The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.” The feast wasn’t just a day of gratitude to each other, to the natives, or to the turkeys for their sacrifice. It was an acknowledgment of the graciousness of Almighty God for giving them strength to endure the difficulties.

According to the Encyclopedia Brittanica, the colonists frequently celebrated “days of prayer thanking God for blessings such as military victory or the end of a drought.” And when Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national holiday on the last Thursday in November, he called it “a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

So as we gather this week to observe the holiday, do express your gratitude to other people. But don’t forget to give the greatest expressions of thanks to God, because “Every generous act and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17, HCSB).

Share in the comments what you’re thankful to God for, and have a happy day of giving thanks!