If you’re hosting Thanksgiving this year, we know you’re busy reviewing your guest list, making centerpieces, and digging deep into your cabinets to pull out Grandma’s very good china. Whether you’re planning a formal affair, or gathering friends and family together for a casual day of comfort food and football, we thought it would be helpful to share this handy infographic of varying place setting etiquette to help you set a festive Thanksgiving table with the “proper” flair.
Now that you’ve had some time to pull your own ideas and thoughts together using the tips from our last blog post, we thought we’d share with you some favorite traditional prayers and inspirational poems that you may like to lead with, or combine with your own expression of thanks.
Remember, gratitude in and of itself is a beautiful thing and there is no right or wrong way to speak about it. Simply relax and speak from your heart, and enjoy the opportunity to let those around you know how thankful you are that you’re all together for Thanksgiving.
Poems, Graces and Prayers:
- Bless us, O Lord
and these Thy gifts,
which we are about to receive from your bounty.
Through Christ our Lord.
- Bless this home
with love and cheer,
And bless all those
who gather here.
- Thank you for the day so sweet,
Thank you for the food we eat,
Thank you for the birds that sing,
Thank you, Lord, for everything!
- Every so often, we all need a day to stop everything we’re so busy doing
and simply be. A day to turn off all the noise and step outside to breathe
in the air, and to know we are part of something bigger than ourselves.
A day to realize the richness of our blessings, the miracles we are,
the wonder that is our lives, the gratitude in our hearts.
- With a prayer that this beautiful season
gives us many new reasons
to rejoice and thank the Lord.
- Thanksgiving is a time of awareness,
of caring and sharing —remembering the best,
seeing the beautiful,
being grateful for the fullness of life.
When you eat, remember the farmer.
From the Poem i thank You God
by E. E. cummings
i thank You God for most this amazing
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
Dear Lord, thank you for this gift of food
You’ve placed upon our table.
And help us all to do your work
In any way we’re able.
Serving Food by Thich Nhat Hanh
In this food, I see clearly
The presence of the universe
Supporting my existence.
by Ralph Waldo Emerson
For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends,
We offer thanks. Amen.
A Blessing based on Gandhi’s Principles
Oh God, bless this food we are about to receive.
Give bread to those who hunger; and hunger for justice to us who have bread.
Shortest Grace by Dag Hammarskjöld
For what has been—thanks! For what shall be—yes!
November brings with it the flurry of preparation for the upcoming holidays, and in these next few weeks as menus and guest lists are planned, it’s also a good idea to start thinking about the annual tradition of the Thanksgiving prayer or blessing.
Perhaps you give the blessing each year, or maybe you’ll be invited to lead a prayer
as a guest in someone’s home. If the latter makes you tremble like Tom Turkey in the barnyard, fear not— we’ve written a two part series, including some helpful tips on how to offer warm and gracious blessings and prayers full of gratitude.
Thank you…to whom?
Many people feel pressured on the “what should I say” moment during grace. You don’t have to be Christian, or belong to any religion, to offer a prayer of thankfulness. If you are a Christian, than your prayer very likely would include God and you could thank Him for being among friends and family and for the food you’re about to share. Some tribal traditions thank the animal that sacrificed its life, others address the Universe, and many acknowledge the Earth and those who worked and labored to produce the food. Taking time to speak gratitude out loud is a soulful gesture in itself, regardless of one’s tradition.
Think about what you’re thankful for:
Everyone has something to be thankful for, even if it’s simply being alive. Write down a list of people and things you cherish, and also think about things that have happened to you, or others that will gather with you, and speak positively about them.
Here are some thoughts to get you started:
- Think of the friends and family members you cherish
- Are people traveling to see you? Think about gratitude for safe travels.
- What about faithful pets? Give thanks for their companionship and comfort each day.
- A warm home and food on the table is more than many have, and worthy of much gratitude.
- Is someone ill and trying to heal? Think about offering thanks for the doctors and medical care they are receiving, or were fortunate to find.
- Maybe someone is waiting on a new job, or perhaps someone lost a job—you could give thanks for the blessings ahead, and the courage and strength to persevere.
Help words and phrases:
For those writing a custom Thanksgiving prayer, these words and phrases can be plugged into any prayer during Thanksgiving:
- giving thanks
- God’s gift of feast
- family harvest
- harvest gathering
- feast of life
- Autumn togetherness
- unmeasured appreciation
Hopefully, your mind is swirling with ideas, and don’t forget to check back next week with our follow up post which will include poems, graces and prayers you can use for your blessing.