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.
Yesterday I hosted a Lady of Letters Tea, celebrating the art of corresponding by hand. It is a tea theme I have wished to create for some time. I made invitations and I invited three friends over who are all uniquely gifted in writing letters and notes. As in most all of the teas that I give, I like to incorporate an activity as well as conversation questions to complement the theme. One of our activities was to practice writing with a dip-style pen. I recently made the purchase of several of these pens which were the writing implement of choice for the entire 19th century. Elegance effortlessly flows from these pens which simply eludes the ballpoint! I purchased beautiful bottled ink through the Levenger Company and was delighted to discover that it was made in America and the ink is of superior quality. I provided quotations for my friends to practice writing in handsome notebooks that they took home. One such quote read: "It is by the benefit of letters that absent friends are, in a manner, brought together." Seneca
As we enjoyed cups of tea complemented by cucumber, roast beef, chicken salad sandwiches, scones and cookies, we talked about the importance of both handwriting and letter writing. In the invitation, I asked my friends to bring along with them a letter or two that they received that was special to them. We read aloud excerpts from these letters. It was as if additional guests joined us at the table as we read these keepsake missives to one another. I also prepared questions to guide our discussion. Two questions were: "What is an early note writing or receiving memory? and "Do you have any letter writing rituals and how do you "set your table" to write letters?" Conversation flowed easily as we exchanged ideas, habits and personal convictions about the importance of corresponding by hand. Let us not forsake this art and opportunity to influence others through our beautifully written and inspired expressions.
Enriching home and family life, especially at the Table