Ask any grade school student, “What is your favorite holiday?” and nine out of ten will say, “Christmas!” The tenth kid will probably say, “Halloween!” I’m sure many adults feel the same way. I think I’m unusual because my favorite holiday is Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving? That forgotten American holiday that interrupts the Christmas shopping season? Thanksgiving? The holiday that isn’t even on the liturgical church calendar? Thanksgiving? The holiday that has a reputation for families fighting around the dinner table? That Thanksgiving? Yes, that’s the one. 

I love Thanksgiving for so many reasons. I think of it as a time when people slow down enough to take stock of their many blessings—a holiday that isn’t about money, presents, or parties, but more about reflection and quiet joy. 

As a choir director, I love the music of Thanksgiving. “Come Ye Thankful People Come,” “Let All Things Now Living,” and “Simple Gifts” are a few of my favorites. I love the Scripture lesson about the one grateful leper and the nine who did not return to thank Jesus for healing them. Unfortunately, we often act more like the thoughtless nine. It reminds me to be more like the thankful leper instead.

But most of all, I love putting into practice the prayer I say at mealtime: “Oh, give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good; for his mercy endures forever” (Psalm 106:1). We get to celebrate God’s goodness to us. We can remember his bounty that he showers on our families, our churches, and our missions. We can thank God for all of his gifts, including the greatest gift of all, our Savior.

So, Happy Thanksgiving, my friends, and may our bountiful God bless you always!

Cynthia Natsis, LWMS president