The Christmas season is a time for believers to be grateful for God's goodness, and shouldn't be celebrated as a mere secular observance, says the Rev. Billy Graham.
In a question-and-answer column published by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association on Thanksgiving Day, a recent immigrant asked the distinguished evangelist his opinion on which of the two holidays, Thanksgiving or Christmas, is more siginificant.
"I am a newcomer to your country, and I am still trying to understand your holidays. Which one is more important, Thanksgiving or Christmas?" inquired the person.
Graham responded that in the United States most people would probably say that Christmas is more important than Thanksgiving.
"Which holiday is more important to Americans? Most people probably would say Christmas, since it occupies more of their time and attention," wrote Graham.
"But in reality both should be of great importance, because both should remind us of God's goodness to us— first by providing for our daily needs, and then by sending His Son into the world for our salvation."
Graham went on to express dismay over how many Americans choose to celebrate Christmas and Thanksgiving as secular holidays.
"Unfortunately, for many people both Thanksgiving and Christmas are merely secular holidays. But take time today to thank God for His goodness to you, and to commit your life anew to Him," continued Graham.
"And as Christmas approaches, take time also to remember God's greatest gift to us — the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ. Make Him the center of your life — not just today, but every day."
Graham's sense that most Americans would pick Christmas over Thanksgiving has been found to be true in assorted polls taken about Americans' favorite holidays.
For example, last December the political polling site FiveThirtyEight conducted an online survey of about 1,000 respondents and found that 78 percent of them listed Christmas in their top five favorite holidays.
This made Christmas No. 1 on the list, with Thanksgiving coming in second with 74 percent, Independence Day at third with 47 percent, and New Year's Eve/New Year's Day fourth at 41 percent.
"The Christmas juggernaut dominates — so much so that enough people said 'Christmas Eve' that it was worth breaking out on its own rather than combining it with the official holiday as we did with New Year's," noted FiveThirtyEight.
"If we used the same criteria as the Baseball Hall of Fame, only Christmas would show up on enough ballots to make the Hall."