All the fourth graders were lined up in chairs at the side of the classroom with parents seated in the center. At each one’s turn, the 9 and 10 year-olds go to the front of the classroom, gather their visual aids,and read a speech. Each speech tells the story of an ancestor, mostly grandparents and great-grandparents. We hear about World War II veterans, the Great Depression, farmers, machinists, seamstresses, and pilots. With each story, I see my grandparents and hear the echoes of holidays gone by. Several times, my eyes moisten in front of memories amazingly similar to my own. Gratitude wells up because my son is learning the stories of people now dead, upon which his own story will rest.
On whom does your story rest? Is your life your own creation? Are you the main force behind your success and happiness? Have you earned the benefits you enjoy? What about the air you breathe, did you build that? What about the food you ate for the first four years of your life, did you plant, harvest, or prepare it? Of course, we all depend on others for our existence and contentment. And we all trace our dependence to the same ultimate source.
Thanksgiving may be the most beneficial holiday our country celebrates, because it reminds us what we owe. But Thanksgiving is far less meaningful if we fail to appreciate whom we owe. “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow” (James 1:17). The air you breathe, the food you eat, the blood that pays for your sins – you owe gratitude to a benevolent Creator for it all. Make sure he gets the credit!