As a kid I had an elderly relative who would always pray at mealtime, "Lord, for what we are about to receive, make us truly thankful, in Christ's name we pray, Amen."
Not to make fun of the prayer of a departed loved one, but that blessing always worried me a little. I'm really not interested in a divine slap upside the head with a 2x4 to make me thankful. It's like praying for patience. If I need greater patience God will give it to me without my asking. If I ask for patience God could answer with hardships that make my little problems diminish simply by comparison – then I'll be patient. That's not really the route I want to go.
So I don't ask God to MAKE me thankful (nothing like a three-year stint in a Mexican prison to make you thankful for life in the suburbs).
When I pray this Thanksgiving I'll simply thank God for what he's done for me this year. I'll thank Him for our country and ask Him for continued protection for our country, our soldiers, and our leaders. I'll pray that He grants wisdom to our leaders.
I'll express thanks that our economy seems to be recovering. I don't think this is too mundane or materialistic to express thanks for. Our country has noble ideals. One key to our strength that many haven't fully appreciated is the morality behind our freedoms. But if our economy were to collapse, we would lose the ability to defend those ideals. Of course it's important for the unemployed to find work, but it is especially important for the country to prosper now during this dangerous time. The fact that our country is prospering is encouraging.
Then I'll thank God for my family. This year I've been blessed with another son. This little guy is healthy and strong and growing fast. My wife has fully recovered from the delivery. Except for the sniffles we're all healthy and doing fine. I'll ask God for continued protection for all of us.
And then, of course, I'll thank God for the food and we'll eat. Turkey, dressing, ham, deviled eggs, potato salad, and pies. It'll be good. We'll eat and then I'll kick back on the couch and doze off while half watching the television.
Thanksgiving is celebrated by nearly everyone in America. This morning I saw a "factoid" on the news that 91% of Americans will eat turkey tomorrow. Of the remaining 9% many will celebrate Thanksgiving with different food (good luck to all the vegetarians eating tofu turkey).
It's good that Thanksgiving is almost universally celebrated. But many who celebrate the day have no relationship with God at all. I would think that it would be difficult to be thankful when you have nobody to thank. "Gee, thanks cold, indifferent, unknowing cosmos for not stomping me out this year – sure hope my luck holds!" is not much of a Thanksgiving prayer.
So I'm thankful that I have Someone to thank. Someone who is not indifferent to the fate of the world, my country, my family, or me.
And if God decides I need to be MADE more thankful, hopefully a reminder of others who have real problems will suffice.