And in fact, I never thank my wife, my son, my parents, my friends, my employer, my allies, my heroes enough. A day set aside to phone and write and visit those people to thank them would be a holiday above all other holidays. But that is not what Thanksgiving is. At best, that is what Thanksgiving might someday become.
For theists, Thanksgiving is an opportunity to thank "god." For muddleheaded atheists Thanksgiving is an opportunity to thank... [blank] (there's no conclusion to the sentence). And for clear thinking atheists, it's a holiday that does not fit. One cannot be thankful to nothing. If you're going to be thankful, not for what your loved ones do, but that they exist, you must be thankful to "god" or to some nameless mush standing in for "god."
Well, what - after all - is so wrong with that? What's wrong with nice warm humble feelings, even if they make no grammatical sense? I think there are two major things wrong with it, one fairly obvious, the other a little less so.
The less obvious trouble with thankfulness can be seen when we move beyond blaming "god" for the world's misery. After all, if you don't "believe in god" you can't blame "god" any more than you can praise him/her/it. And if you cannot blame "god" then the truly painful thought arrives: we must blame ourselves. In fact, we and nobody else bear the responsibility for what goes well and poorly in the world. We get no credit for the squirrels. They simply evolved. But we get credit for maintaining a world they can live in, or blame for destroying it. We acquired this responsibility when we gained the power to destroy the world. That doesn't mean a key to preserving the world doesn't lie in refraining from trying to control it.
Children who die from preventable diseases, workers who die from unsafe working conditions, and families who die in wars all die with their blood on our hands and nobody else's. We, humanity, and we, Americans in particular, are the ultimate cause of tremendous suffering. Far from thanking some primitive fantasy for the state of things, we should be standing, speaking, and acting to change things. Instinctive acceptance of the status quo as at least partially "right" is the most dangerous result of vestigial theism, and the last thing we have time for is a holiday that promotes it.