As Thanksgiving Day approaches, I have started thinking about all of the things, small and great, that I am grateful for. It doesn’t take long to sit down and make a list of all of the things we have that make our lives, better, happier, and more convenient.
WHAT IS THANKSGIVING?
According to Webster, Thanksgiving is an “act of giving thanks, a public acknowledgment of divine goodness and mercy.”
In the year 1621, a group of colonists celebrated the first Thanksgiving, three days of prayer and feasting, to give thanks for their first harvest and for surviving the first terrible Massachusetts winter.
Since that time the United States has grown from a few scattered colonies in the 17th century to a continent-wide nation of more than 325 million persons. There have been many people who have made great contributions in order to make the life we live better and more convenient. People like, Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, Henry Ford, the Wright Brothers, Alexander Grahm Bell, Andrew Carnegie, Harvey Firestone, William Wrigley, Frank W. Woolworth, Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King Jr., Walt Disney, John Wayne, Bill Gates, Sam Walton, Joseph Smith, prophets, the pioneers, the soldiers, our ancestors, and all of the other people who have ever lived and contributed their time and talents, who have struggled for a cause, who have been persecuted for trying, but have risen above it all to make life better for all.
How often do we stop and think about people and things that have helped to make our lives better? Do we ever express our thanks or think about how grateful we should be. It’s kind of strange how it takes a certain event, or circumstance, situation or a big scare, to make us sit back and reflect about how really blessed we are. So what are we thankful for?
I guess the thing that is at the top of the list is LIFE itself. What a wonderful gift to have. To experience life and the opportunities and challenges it has to offer. To receive a perfect body, to have lungs to breathe with, eyes to see, ears to hear. To be able to speak, to touch, to run, to have a healthy heart to pump blood through our veins. To have a mind to control our bodies and to think of ideas, to store information, and for understanding. Do we take LIFE for granted?
What else are we thankful for? How about LOVE? To be loved. To give love. To have unconditional love for others and to be unconditionally loved. To be loved, no matter what we do or what mistakes we make. What would this life be like without love?
HEAVENLY FATHER AND JESUS CHRIST
Are we thankful for a loving Heavenly Father who helps us make it through this life, who hears and answers prayers, who protects us from harm, who gives us comfort when we need it? What about our Savior and Elder Brother Jesus Christ? He loved us enough to atone for our sins, to suffer for all our burdens, and to sacrifice his life for us. He made it possible for us to repent and be forgiven, be comforted, and find peace through our trials. He also made it possible for all of us to be resurrected and live forever with our loved ones. Are we grateful for Him?
What about the Holy Ghost? The Holy Ghost gives us comfort when we need it, teaches us right from wrong, and gives us the opportunity to receive personal inspiration. Where would we be if there wasn’t modern-day revelation or if we couldn’t receive our own personal inspiration? Are we grateful for the Holy Ghost, the comforter, the still small voice, revelation, and personal inspiration?
Are we grateful for the gospel and for the principles of the gospel–faith, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost? Are we thankful for the priesthood and its’ power, for the Book of Mormon and other scriptures and the things we learn from them? Are we grateful for prophets, both anciently and modern-day? Are we thankful for missionaries who sacrifice time, money, and other things to teach the gospel throughout the world?
What about miracles? Do we believe in miracles? Do we accept them and do we appreciate them when the Lord performs those miracles. Are we grateful for temples and the opportunity to go to the temple and perform the work? Are we grateful for the opportunity to be sealed to our families forever and to have eternal life, and for the opportunity to reach exaltation? Are we grateful for our testimonies, even if we have just a small mustard seed of belief?
What about families? Are we grateful for the eternal line of loved ones? Are we grateful for our parents and do we appreciate all the things they give us, the support and encouragement, and the unconditional love they have for us? Are we grateful for grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, and all of our relatives? I am grateful that, not only did I know both sets of grandparents but that I had a good, relationship with them. I am also grateful for my 14 aunts and uncles, 77 cousins, and for all of their spouses and kids, and for my nieces and nephews.
Are we grateful for our spouses and our children and grandchildren? Do we appreciate them and love them individually and unconditionally? When we have so many people who care about us and who will do anything for us. Who loves us and supports us and when we are sick or need some special help, they will always be there for us and give us any help we are in need of then we are truly blessed. Are we grateful for our ancestors and for all of the trials they went through? Are we grateful for all of the things that we have done with family members, the traditions we have established, and the relationships we have with our families?
Are we grateful for all of the teachers we have had in our lives? Not just formal ones at school or church but all of the people who have ever taught us something?
What about friends and associates? Do we appreciate our friends? Are we grateful for them and the relationship we have with them, and for what they mean to us? Are we grateful for the special bond that we have with our friends and for the love and support they give us? It has been said that “richness is not in money but in friends.”
Are we grateful for our freedom, for the Country we live in? Are we grateful for a place to live, clothes to wear, a job to work at, money to support ourselves with, food to eat, books to read, recreation, and the opportunity to get an education?
Are we grateful for the talents which we have been blessed with, and do we try to develop those talents? Are we grateful for the experiences and opportunities life has to offer, and do we appreciate the tests and trials we have that help us to grow and become stronger?
THUNDERSTORMS AND RAINBOWS
What would this world be like without mountains, oceans, waterfalls, sunsets, pine-trees, thunderstorms, rainbows, sunshine, the stars in the sky, flowers, birds, animals, springtime, the colors of the trees in autumn, the freshly fallen snow in winter, or the green grass in the summer? What would we do without the fresh air we breathe, or clean water we drink, or the food we eat? Are we grateful for these things?
DR. SEUSS AND CHOCOLATE
What would life be like without Walt Disney, John Wayne, Doris Day, Santa Claus, Dr. Seuss, Mother Goose, fairytales, make-believe, music, television, computers, telephones, internet, electricity, dishwashers, movies, baseball, football games, holidays, automobiles, airplanes, air conditioning, indoor plumbing, running water, heat, ice cream, and chocolate, or a million other things that make our lives more enjoyable and convenient?
Bruce R. McConkie has said,
“In prayer, song, and by walking uprightly before him, they should render thanks to the Lord for the very fact of creation and existence: for the redeeming sacrifice of Christ which ransoms all men from death and offers eternal life to the faithful; for the gospel, the priesthood, the church and kingdom, and the assurance that the family unit will continue in eternity; for the gift of the Holy Ghost, living oracles, to guide the saints, and freedom to worship God according to the dictates of conscience; for temporal and spiritual prosperity and all the good things of life.”
We should be thankful for all of these and many more that make life worth living. In talking about blessings, there is a quote that says, “if you don’t get everything you want, think of the things you don’t get that you don’t want.”
We take so much for granted. How often do we stop to count our many blessings and to thank the one who gave it all to us?
Richard L. Evans has said,
“So many things we may take for granted: health–until we lose it; food–until it is difficult to get; life-until it hangs in doubt–and many things besides. But it is not wise or well to take blessing or privileges for granted, however, commonly they may occur: not the harvest of the year, nor our daily bread, nor the comfort of home, the love of those who wait there–nor freedom nor even life itself. Nor must we expect to receive without giving, to prosper without working, to inherit without deserving. And so, taking nothing for granted, we voice gratitude for all our blessings, naming only a few.
We are thankful that men may speak their minds; that public opinion and moral force are factors in fashioning our way of life, and that none are beyond their reach. We are thankful for our many material blessings but more thankful for the measure of freedom that has survived in a world where much has not survived. For all our bounteous blessings we give gratitude to God, our Father, with fervent hope that we may never take them for granted. And in the words from Shakespeares’ Henry VI: ‘Let never day nor night unhallowed pass, but still remember what the Lord hath done.'”
The Lord has given us all we have, and we need to be grateful to him and express thanks to him often. The following is a quote from an Institute Manual from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints:
“The debt to God is completely beyond our ability to repay. Benjamin points out that even if we devoted our whole soul to Him we are still unprofitable servants. In other words, we can do nothing that puts God in our debt. Nephi expressed the same idea when he taught that we are saved by the grace of God even after all we can possibly do. And yet God does not require us to repay him for all he does for us. All he asks is that we keep Hs commandments, and if we do, we are blessed both temporally and spiritually. This is the marvel of God’s love. The more we try to serve him and repay him for what he has done, the more he blesses us; therefore, we become even more deeply indebted to him. We remain indebted to him forever.”
We are truly blessed, and so let’s take the time to think about the many blessing we have and to express our gratitude to our loved ones and to God above, and not take so much for granted. Once a year we are reminded by a national holiday to give thanks. This holiday is called Thanksgiving, and Thanksgiving is an act of giving thanks, and public acknowledgment of divine goodness and mercy. The Lord has truly given of his divine goodness and mercy, and so at this Thanksgiving time, I say THANK YOU TO ALL of the many special people in my life and to a loving Heavenly Father who has so richly blessed my life.
WHAT ARE YOU THANKFUL FOR?