Counting Our Blessings: A Simple Family Tradition Renewed Our Faith at Thanksgiving

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

-Joseph Oatman, Jr. (1857)

Several years ago, in 2015, I ordered personalized coasters for our family Thanksgiving dinner.  As each family member or friend arrived, they were given a coaster and instructed to write on the back of coaster something for which they were thankful.  

The older children, already young adults, moaned in despair.  

“Why are you doing this, Me-me?”

My reply, as I handed them a marker, was “Just do it.”  

The comments ranged from reflective and serious to hilariously funny. Not everyone wished to have their comments read aloud and those were simply set aside.   It was a wonderful day. There was so much laughter and happiness, that I remember it as one of the best Thanksgiving Days ever.

The following March, my niece, Melissa was diagnosed with cancer at age 39.  We were devasted and for the next five months, we all fought a battle that could not be won.  Finally, August 24, 2016, was the last day with our wonderfully beautiful, intelligent and vibrant Lissy.  

Our grief was overwhelming.  How would we go on from here?  

We made ourselves prepare for Thanksgiving and when the personalized coasters were passed around, there were tears and quietness as we looked at the picture of Melissa on the coasters. We missed her.  

“Do we have to do this, again?”


So, we did.  We read the new comments and decided to re-read the coasters from last year, since some had been so funny.  The first one on the stack was Melissa’s.

“I am thankful for my faith, my grandmama’s prayers, and my family.”  

Too often, it’s the simple things in life that we take for granted.  Things like our faith, the prayers that are prayed on our behalf, and our families. However, these are the things that give us hope, courage, and a reason for being. How wonderful is that?  

So, when the coasters are passed around this year, I will share a heartfelt sentiment.

“I am thankful for my faith, my mama’s prayers, and my family.”  

That’s really all that matters and of course, don’t forget the turkey.

Thanksgiving Blessings,