A new survey finds that "The blessings that matter most are the ones money can't buy," and "people's responses to Thanksgiving seem to be shaped in part by demographics."
The list of blessings most Americans are thankful for is revealing, but not surprising.
LifeWay Research has done a fairly in-depth survey of what people are thinking and feeling this Thanksgiving.
The survey gave people 10 options to be thankful for.
Here's some of what they found.
- Most Americans are thankful for family--88%, health--77%, personal freedom--72%, and friends--71%.
- Fewer gave thanks for wealth--32%, and achievements--51%.
- Only 2% said they are not thankful for any of the 10 options.
- Demographics seemed to shape the responses.
- Those 65 and older are more thankful for family--92%, health--86%, and "fun" experiences only 48%.
- Conversely, those under 25 are thankful for "fun" experiences--70% and their achievements--61%, however, the kids under 25 have a deep appreciation for family---77%.
Americans with bachelor's degrees, 45%, graduate degrees--46%, or evangelical beliefs--41%, are more thankful for wealth. Those who didn't go to college--23% are thankful for financial blessings and those who do not hold evangelical beliefs--31% are not particularly thankful for financial blessings.
Some have suggested that it's because they don't have money to be thankful for. However, it appears that they are simply not as motivated by money as some others are.
While family was at the top of most people's list of "blessings to be thankful for," safety and security--3%, memories--3%, friends--2%, opportunities--2%, achievements--2%, fun experiences--1% and wealth--1%, were at the bottom of the list.
To whom are we thankful?
- 63% say they give thanks to God on Thanksgiving Day
- 57% say they give thanks to their family
- 31% give thanks to friends
- 8% thank themselves
- 4% thank fate
Not surprising, people living in different parts of our country, have different views of giving thanks.
Americans living in the South (72 percent), African-Americans (83 percent), those attending religious services at least once a month (84 percent) and Christians (80 percent) are among those most likely to thank God. Protestants (90 percent) are more likely to thank God than Catholics (67 percent). Those with evangelical beliefs are most likely to thank God (94 percent). One in 4 nones—those with no religious affiliation—also say they thank God.
Catholics (65 percent) are more likely to thank their family than Protestants (49 percent). Those with evangelical beliefs are half as likely to thank family (32 percent) as those without evangelical beliefs (62 percent).
Those in the Northeast are more likely to thank themselves (14 percent) than Midwesterners (7 percent) and Southerners (6 percent). Men (9 percent) are more likely to not give thanks than women (5 percent). Those younger than 25 (14 percent) are also more likely to skip giving thanks than those 65 and older (5 percent).
- Only 7% of Americans say they don't give thanks to anyone or anything on Thanksgiving Day.
- Another 4% say they don't thank God or any of the other options.
Americans have a long history of giving thanks---We've been giving thanks to God in America since 1621.
In 1621, the Pilgrims at Plymouth Plantation held a feast at the end of their first harvest.
In 1789, our first President George Washington set aside Nov. 26 of that year as a thanksgiving day in honor of "that great and glorious being who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be."
Throughout our history, states celebrated a thanksgiving on different dates until 1863, when President Lincoln set aside the 4th Thursday of November as an official federal holiday.
Lincoln credited God for the nation's blessings: "They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy."
Most all of us will give thanks this week. And most all of us will give thanks to God for those blessings. And most all of us will see the most important blessings as those money can't buy.