As you and your family and friends gather this Thanksgiving season, what are you thankful for? Sharing a meal with others is a blessing. As you gather around the table, consider the many gifts and blessings you are thankful for and say thanks.
Thanksgiving is the perfect time to express thanks, joy and love. It’s a time to support one another. A lovely tradition that brings everyone into the circle is to go around the table and ask each person to name a blessing for which they are thankful. Old and young alike will find meaning in sharing a blessing, big or small, that’s important to them.
One family tradition is to have children cut out leaves from colorful construction paper and have each person write what he or she is thankful for on the leaves. The leaves can be scattered on the table or displayed in other ways for everyone to see. Or as guests arrive, give them a blank slip of paper and have them write their blessing on the paper. Put all the slips in a bowl and pass it around the table for each person to take one and read aloud.
Saying grace for the meal is a way to be mindful of God’s gifts. It’s also a way to teach children the importance of being thankful and to help them receive blessings and encouragement. Author Anne Lamott, who grew up in an atheist household, writes eloquently of the importance of saying grace. She writes that even as a little girl she knew that everyone at every table needed blessing and encouragement but her family didn’t ask for it.
“No matter how you say it, grace can transform an ordinary meal into a celebration — of family, love and gratitude,” writes Lamott.
Before your family gathers, ask someone in advance to say the prayer, either an adult or child. Or, if you prefer, let your prayer be the blessings that each person shares.
Or you might share a blessing that has been written by others. Here’s one:
Oh, God, help us be grateful
for gifts you’ve sent our way.
For these we want to thank you on this Thanksgiving Day.
(from Thanksgiving Day Prayer by Kris Ediger)
Another idea is to read scripture. Psalm 100 is a good one to consider:
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the lands!
Serve the Lord with gladness; come into his presence with singing!
Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise;
Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his steadfast love endures forever;
his faithfulness to all generations.