A recent nationwide survey found that more than half of all Americans do not expect to receive a thank-you note after giving a gift. The age-old custom of sending thank-you notes has all but faded away, but the people responding to this survey conducted for The Society of American Florists found that most people don't expect even an in-person expression of thanks, a phone call or even an e-mail.
They don't expect it, most likely, because the sin of ingratitude is a growing problem in a land where prosperity and plenty have given people more material blessings than any time in recorded history.
Thursday, Nov. 23, is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. It is the one day of the year when many people at least pause to consider all that they have. Some even go as far as to call it the "season" for giving thanks. But gratitude knows no season. It is not an event, like a birthday or anniversary, that can be plucked like a ripe fruit once a year and then forgotten again. It is an integral part of the character of God-loving people, and the Lord has made it clear that it is an attribute He demands of all who would find favor in His sight.
In a revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith He said, "And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments." (Doctrine and Covenants 59:21.)
From this scripture we learn that while it is appropriate to thank people for the things they do, it is imperative that all people remember that our Heavenly Father ultimately is the one responsible for all of creation, and for the very breath that allows humans to do things for each other.
Each year at this time, the American Farm Bureau Federation publishes a survey estimating the cost of preparing Thanksgiving dinner. The point of this survey is to show how inexpensive a lavish meal has become, thanks to modern technology and the unprecedented yields farmers are able to produce. The figures are instructive, but too many people fail to take the next step in thought and realize that the technology and the yields are blessings from a merciful and almighty Creator. Without His ability to inspire the human mind, technological advances would not be possible. Without warm sunshine and the gentle rain that waters the earth, crops would not grow and all life would cease.
Many years ago President Joseph F. Smith said, "I believe that one of the greatest sins of which the inhabitants of the earth are guilty today is the sin of ingratitude, the want of acknowledgment, on their part, of God and His right to govern and control. We see a man raised up with extraordinary gifts, or with great intelligence, and he is instrumental in developing some great principle. He and the world ascribe this great genius and wisdom to himself. He attributes his success to his own energies, labor and mental capacity. He does not acknowledge the hand of God in anything connected with his success, but ignores Him altogether and takes the honor to himself; this will apply to almost all the world. In all great modern discoveries in science, in the arts, in mechanics, and in all the material advancement of our age, the world says, 'We have done it.' The individual says, 'I have done it,' and he gives no honor and credit to God. Now, I read in the revelations through Joseph Smith, the Prophet, that because of this, God is not pleased with the inhabitants of the earth but is angry with them because they will not acknowledge His hand in all things." (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed., Salt Lake City; Deseret Book Co., 1939, pp. 270-71.)
People who don't show gratitude are less likely to treat Heavenly Father's creations with respect. They are more likely to be rude and insensitive and to show a lack of regard for all but themselves. They are more likely to commit crimes and to complain that they are entitled to all that other people have without having to do the work necessary. The terrible irony is that the more people have, the less likely they seem to humbly acknowledge the source of their blessings.
The best way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is to commit to developing an attitude of thanks at all times and under all conditions for the many great blessings bestowed by a loving Father in Heaven.