We Americans will consume around 45 million turkeys over Thanksgiving, eating 525 million pounds of turkey meat. We celebrate Thanksgiving as a national holiday, but what is your favorite holiday?

According to surveys, Christmas is America’s first choice. Yet, it may surprise you to learn that it was not celebrated until 336 A.D. and did not become popular in America until the 1860s. We are not sure when Jesus’ birth actually occurred. It is observed on December 25 because early Christian leaders wanted to replace Saturnalia, a popular pagan holiday observed near that day.

In fact, most of our holidays are not found in scripture. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Fourth of July—none are in God’s word. Even Easter, the most significant day in human history, is not treated in the Bible as a specific holiday, but rather a daily celebration.

For Americans, the holiday that comes last in popularity is Thanksgiving. Only two percent rank it their favorite. Would you? God does. Thanksgiving is the one observance that is commanded by our Lord and is absolutely mandated by the scriptures: “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Thanksgiving is the will of God.

In Luke 17, Jesus healed ten lepers from a fatal illness, but only one returned to say thank you. Jesus was actually surprised that just one, and a foreigner at that, showed gratitude. Then He pronounced, “Arise and go forth; your faith has made you whole” (Luke 17:19). The individual who showed appreciation received Christ’s spiritual blessing: wholeness (comprehensively made right).

When was the last time you said thank you to God? Sometimes our busyness or attitudes of self-sufficiency are the enemies of true appreciation.

I remember being in London on Thanksgiving 1987. It felt weird that no one celebrated a day of gratefulness. The problem for me was not merely missing the American tradition, but also the spiritual celebration. It was and still is my habit to stop and list out all God has done, is doing, and promises to do in my life.

Is Thanksgiving a holiday or a holy day for you? Is it an annual event or a regular experience of showing the Lord your gratitude?