Among the holidays, there’s something unique about Thanksgiving Day. Unlike Easter and Christmas, it’s only almost a religious holiday. It’s celebrated across the country. It’s not a day off work to celebrate work like Labor Day. Nor is it a day in honor of what others may have done like Memorial Day or Veterans Day. Thanksgiving is a uniquely personal day. It’s about the attitude of gratitude.

For most Americans Thanksgiving Day is family time. Traditionally, generations get together for a meal and a time to reconnect. But some people don’t.

We all know people, families and children who seem to have little to be thankful for. Life is hard. Bad things happen and, for some, trauma seems to be the modus operandi of life. We’ve all been there at the wall, the tomb, or the pit of despair. We all remember past years when we lost important people, when important things or positions were taken away, and when important plans came apart.

But every year in November, Thanksgiving Day returns, the annual opportunity to become grounded again.

There’s an old hymn, “Count Your Many Blessings”. I loved it when I was a kid because it had a catchy tune and melody. Over the years I learned to love it for the wisdom it contains, “count your many blessings, name them one by one.”

Here as a reminder of an opportunity Thanksgiving Day presents to us all, I’ll share the lyrics:

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.

When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings. Wealth can never buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.

So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be disheartened, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

“Count Your Many Blessings” was written by Rev. Johnson Oatman, Jr., a Methodist minister from New Jersey. While he authored more than 5,000 hymns, this one is generally considered his best.

So whether you’re up or down this Thanksgiving season, take a few moments by yourself and start your list. Count your many blessings!

All of us at Louisiana United Methodist Children and Family Services wish you a very grateful, very happy Thanksgiving!

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