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.
With Grandparents Day fast approaching this Sunday, September 8th, chances are you’re thinking about giving or sending a special card to celebrate these wonderful people who have loved you all your life. Maybe your grandparents live far away and you don’t see them as often, or perhaps your grandparents raised you themselves, making them more parent than grandparent. So then, how do you begin to say all the many emotions of gratitude you feel for these special people who have so freely and unselfishly given their time, their hugs…their love?
Let your heart be your guide…
Think of some of your favorites things about your grandparents. Do they have a zest for life that makes you smile? Do you take walks together, or share stories over coffee? Did they share a favorite hobby with you? Gardening, collecting, knitting, and cooking? Do they help out by picking up the kids from school, or babysitting each week? Is Grandma’s kitchen always awash with smells of home-baked goodness? Did you ever catch “the big one” with Granddad? Maybe you love how their hugs make you feel like the safest place you’ve ever known. Here are at Blue Mountain, we have wonderful Grandparents Day cards you can add your own special messages to. Come take a look and choose your favorite, then look over some of the ideas we’ve given below to add your own special touch. If you simply say it from your heart…you’ll light up theirs.
- Wishing you a Grandparents Day filled with happiness…
- Wishing you many reasons to smile today and every day…
- Hope your Grandparents Day is filled with everything you love…
- You’re all the things that make grandparents special…
- Happy Grandparents Day to the grandest of them all…
- Happy Grandparents Day with lots of love…
For Closer Relationships
- I love the times we spend together…
- I’ll never forget the time when…
- You’ve always been there for me…
- Thanks to you, it’s easy to understand the meaning of love—because you give so much of it…
- Grandparents like you are loved so much for so many special reasons…
- You’re more than my grandparents…you’re two of my very best friends…
Sentiments of Gratitude
- Thank you for every magical memory I hold in my heart…
- You’re always there, and I’m always grateful…
- Thank you for your loving heart…
- For your faith, your wisdom, your kindness, your love…thank you.
- I am so grateful to have Grandparents as wonderful as you…
- Thinking of you on Grandparents Day, and how your kindness, your caring, and love mean so much to me…
Across the Miles
- Sending warm loving thoughts to you…
- Even though we’re not together, you’re always close in heart…
- Wish we could be together for Grandparents Day…
- There may be miles between us, but warm thoughts keep us close…
- Sending you love and hugs across the miles…
- Missing you and wishing you a wonderful Grandparents Day…
This day is for the dogs! August 26th marks National Dog Day – a day to celebrate the furry, kind-hearted creatures we love and adore so much. We thought we would celebrate by featuring everything we love sharing, like quotes, poems, songs, but with a dog twist. And don’t forget; BlueMountain.com offers a Pet ecard collection! So don’t forget to give an extra treat of belly rub today…Enjoy!
- A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.
― Josh Billings
- Dogs never bite me. Just humans.
― Marilyn Monroe
- If a dog will not come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.
― Woodrow Wilson
- Everything I know, I learned from dogs.
― Nora Roberts
- I have found that when you are deeply troubled, there are things you get from the silent devoted companionship of a dog that you can get from no other source.”
― Doris Day
The wiggle of an ear
just as you near.
A tilt of the head
from something you said.
Tail wagging, making a breeze
a sure sign you really please.
Jump up – turn around,
happy signs without a sound.
_ Patricia Waltert
I like dogs.
I like dogs.
A dog that is barking over the hill.
A dog that is dreaming very still.
A dog that is running wherever he will.
I like dogs.
_ Margaret Wise Brown
Dog Day Playlist:
Enjoy this fun little playlist we put together with some of our favorite doggone songs!
Whet Your Wienie Appetite and Celebrate Hot Dog Day!
Now that you’ve gotten some nice naptime in from yesterday’s National Hammock Day, you’re probably famished. So, satisfy your appetite and start celebrating all over again, for July 23 is National Hot Dog Day! It’s estimated that Americans eat roughly 20 billion hot dogs a year. That’s a lot of wienies!
Beef up your hot dog history and tantalize your taste buds with these mouth-watering recipes and suggestions for some hot dog dining!
A Little Hot Dog History
Although the origin of the hot dog is as widespread as there are toppings to put on it, some believe the frankfurter got its start from some enterprising butchers in Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany and Vienna, Austria. Many migrated to America, bringing their delicacies with them.
In 1904, Bavarian proprietor Anton Feuchtwanger started running out of the gloves he gave customers to handle the hot sausage he sold. He reportedly procured the services of his brother-in-law baker who concocted soft rolls long enough to fit the meat, and the hot dog bun was born.
As for how “hot dog” got its name, it’s believed that New York cartoonist Tad Dorgan coined the term after watching vendors advertise their “dachshund sausages” by hollering to bystanders nearby. Uncertain of how to spell “dachshund” while sketching the scene, Dorgan substituted the words “hot dog” and the phrase stuck.
To Grill, or Not to Grill
Whether you’re tying on your grilling apron to cook up some hot dogs or heading to the ballpark to catch a game—and that stadium mustard!—there’s nothing like sinking your teeth into one of America’s favorite foods! If you do plan on firing up the grill to cook your own, or roasting it on a stick over an open flame, here are some finger-licking recipes to liven up any frankfurter:
Finger-Licking Frankfurter Recipes
Chicago-Style Hot Dog:
Detroit-Style Coney Dog:
If you plan to pass on the grill and could use a tip on how to find some hot dog hot spots near you, here are a few sites to point you in the right direction:
Happy Hot Dog Hot Spots
And when you’re just plain dog tired and don’t want to fix your own franks, here’s a list of places that serve up some of the best plain to absolute gourmet dogs around!
It’s a Swing Thing: Celebrate National Hammock Day!
Nothing spells summer like stretching out in a nice, comfy hammock. July 22 is National Hammock Day–part of National Hammock Month–so be sure to celebrate all the relaxation your swinging sanctuary brings by indulging in a little hammock history and
tips on ways to further enjoy it.
History of the Hammock
Introduced to Christopher Columbus by a Haitian tribe known as the Taino Indians, the hamaca, (or hammock) was originally used in Central America over a thousand years ago as protection from dangerous ground organisms. Their popularity grew after Columbus brought hammocks back to Europe, with all classes of people seeking them out. The U.S. military even slept in them when on missions far from home. They were first mass-produced in Pawley’s Island, South Carolina. Today, people around the world use them as an ideal source of summertime slumber.
Rest & Relaxation Tips
Make the most of your hammock and rejuvenate yourself with these relaxation suggestions:
- Enjoy a refreshing breeze, watch the clouds drift in the sky,
and indulge a favorite daydream
- Bask in the warm sunshine and listen to the sounds of nature
- Lose yourself in a good book while sipping ice-cold lemonade
- Share a spot and the closeness of a loved one
- Take a nice, long afternoon nap (pack a pillow or cushion)
- Enjoy a tasty snack like a mouth-watering hot dog (July 23 is National Hot Dog Day by the way!) and a scrumptious dessert like ice cream (July is also National Ice Cream Month!)
Hammock Buying Guides
Don’t have a hammock? No problem. Here are a few sites to consider when buying:
By the way, hammocks are not just for summer anymore! You can buy hammock sleeping bags that keep you off the ground and warm in even the coldest temperatures!
Try Googling “hammock sleeping bags” to check it out.
Sunrise to Sunset
Throughout the next 30 days, over 1.5 billion people around the world will be observing Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, with adults fasting and praying from sunrise to sunset.
In North America this year, Ramadan begins at sunset on July 9, but there are some years when it falls in the middle of winter! This is because, for those who don’t follow an Islamic calendar, Ramadan is a moving holiday that shifts about ten days every year based on date of the new moon. Despite the changing dates, the strong traditions of Ramadan remain the same: there is fasting, prayer and the practice of selflessness.
Fasting and Other Traditions
Fasting is one the Five Pillars of the Islam religion and one of the highest forms of Islamic worship. For Muslims, it’s a way to sacrifice earthly pleasures, share the sufferings of the less fortunate and more deeply appreciate the bounties of Allah. Only adults are expected to fast, but children enjoy the other traditions including the excitement of sighting the moon and sharing special meals.
A typical day of Ramadan begins just before sunrise with a meal called Sahur, followed by the first of five prayers, which are offered all day long. And then the fast begins. Throughout the day, Muslims are encouraged to go out of their way to help the needy, both financially and emotionally. In fact, some people are so enthusiastic about helping others during this month, they barely have time for themselves. But since Muslims believe they will be rewarded more than 70 times over for good deeds during Ramadan, this is well worth the effort. At the end of each day, the fast is broken at sunset, often with social dinners or “lftar parties.” And then remainder of five prayers is offered, usually at a Mosque.
The month of Ramadan ends with a festive celebration called Eid-ul-Fitr (commonly called “Eid”) which often lasts three full days. Muslims get together with family and friends, share gifts and eat delicious dinners. Or they take a short vacation…before patiently waiting for the next year.
Overall, Ramadan is a very special time of brotherhood and customs that brings about a feeling of closeness, community and religious commitment, which is a wonderful experience for Muslims of all ages around the world.
Canada Day, once called Dominion Day, is celebrated with the same intent and fervor as Independence Day in the USA. Canada Day marks the event in 1867 when Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the Province of Canada began the process of becoming an independent and united nation. It wasn’t until 1982, however, that it became fully independent from the United Kingdom. Though Canada Day has only been celebrated since the ’50s with fireworks and barbeques, it’s now a notable day for relaxing and appreciating family and freedom.
Canada’s capital, Ottawa, Ontario, and many other cities and provinces host holiday activities with games, cookouts, parades, carnivals, concerts, and air and maritime shows. There are countless events and festivals to be found throughout each city’s streets, parks, and museums. Fireworks are launched everywhere from Nova Scotia to Vancouver to conclude a day of patriotic festivities.
So how can you celebrate your neighbors to the North or honor Canada Day at home? Try decorating with some maple leaves and add splashes of red and white everywhere.
Another way to have fun is to create some crafts. You can make delightful Canada Day Birds of red and white paper or a simple red and white pinwheel to play in the breeze at the local parade. Today, craftsmen and hobbyists find lots of ways to celebrate the rich heritage of beautiful Canada.
You can find links for some great recipes and craft ideas for Canada Day below.
It’s always fun to join in a celebration, so come on and honor your Canadian friends and neighbors by recognizing one of their greatest days in history. It all happens on July 1!http://www.canadianliving.com/food/canada_day_picnic_sandwich.php http://www.canadianliving.com/food/baking_and_desserts/canada_day_cake.php http://www.canadianliving.com/food/beaver_cupcakes.php http://www.rightathome.com/Food/Recipes/Pages/EggsinMapleHamCups.aspx http://pinterest.com/twintrospective/canada-day/
Photo Credits: Strawberry Maple-leaf Flag cake: smallhomebigstart.blogspot.com Eggs in maple Ham Cups: rightathome.com
A Little History…
Although President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation freed many African Americans, slavery itself wasn’t abolished altogether. It wasn’t until June 19, 1865, when Union General Gordon Granger marched into Galveston, Texas, declared the end of the Civil War, and read aloud General Orders, No. 3, that all slaves were freed, creating a ripple effect across the country in what has become known as Juneteenth.
Celebrated the following year, in 1866, Juneteenth became a day similar in festivities
to the Fourth of July, with prayer services, inspirational speakers, a reading of the Emancipation Proclamation, and merrymaking which included food and drink, dancing, storytelling, and other exciting events.
Here are a few ideas to jump start your Juneteenth celebration, both in educational and entertaining ways:
Host a day-at-work seminar: Invite guest speakers knowledgeable of Juneteenth
and its timeline to talk to your company’s employees in order to familiarize them with
the observance and its meaning. Create a theme and post your company’s involvement
on its web site.
Community involvement: Organize events at your local schools and libraries. Create interactive displays that can educate participants on the origin of Juneteenth and its evolution, and ask local businesses to sponsor these events.
Plan a picnic: Land in parts of Texas purchased by ex-slaves, known as “emancipation grounds,” was later turned into Emancipation Parks in such areas as Houston, East Austin, and now Booker T. Washington Park in Mexia, Texas. Host your own outdoor gathering with food and festivities to celebrate the day.
Contact Congress: Although it was made an official holiday in the state of Texas on January 1, 1980, Juneteenth has yet to receive national recognition. Several U.S. Senators, public officials, and other outspoken individuals have been working to ensure that Juneteenth becomes an officially recognized national holiday, similar to Patriot Day or Flag Day. Show your appreciation for these men and women by contacting them and supporting their efforts.