Thanksgiving can often be turkey and food centered, and I’d like to offer a gentle encouragement to you in order to refocus our attention to create a people-centered and God-centered feast. I hope you will find these suggestions to be helpful:
Dine at the table. One of my favorite scenes from the movie “The Blind Side” is when Michael Oher sits down alone at the table on Thanksgiving while his adopted family is gathered around the television watching the game. They soon recognize their oversight and join him at the table and enjoy a wonderful meal and time together. It’s family time that Michael has always dreamed of. Why not take this cue as well?
Set a beautiful table. It doesn’t have to be extravagant. When you take time to set the table and make it special, you communicate to your guests of all ages, “You are special.” The most important part of the place setting is the person who is sitting in front of it.
Offer a word of welcome at the table. This simple expression communicates great value. Stand up as host or hostess (or both) at the table and thank everyone for coming and look every person in the eye. You could say something like: “On this special Thanksgiving day, we are gathered together as friends and family. We are so glad each of you is here. Thank you for coming!”. Express it in your own words.
Say Grace. Grace is a beautiful tradition. It is offered at the beginning of the meal because it is the priority of it. It is the essential act of Thanksgiving. Though we can get into a rut about saying grace, the best table prayers are heartfelt and thoughtful. Tailor it by your own expression. You can also ask a guest (ahead of time!) to offer grace. Here is one suggestion: “Lord, we want to thank you this Thanksgiving Day for the daily provisions and blessings You have lavished upon each of us and that we often fail to recognize. May we be truly humble and grateful. Thank you for the gift of family and friends gathered here today. Amen.”
Focus the Conversation-the centerpiece of the table. Conversation means personal connection. No doubt you will learn interesting things about your guests that will lead to future conversations Let's remember that if we do not intentionally direct conversation, it will take its own course which can be disappointing and disrupting. When conversation is directed, it also helps to ease possible tension at the table. When it seems like an appropriate time, try using printed questions to kindle conversation. Make them child-friendly. I like to place these written questions in a unique container to pass around, or you can place them under the dinner or dessert plate. Here are a couple of ideas to get you started:
· What is something that is easy to take for granted?
· What do you appreciate about your family, friends, work, school, etc.
· What makes it challenging to be thankful today?
· Why do you think it was so important to celebrate that first Thanksgiving feast? What were they so thankful for?
And lastly, greet and say good bye to each person.
Enriching home and family life, especially at the Table