NOTE: If this seems familiar, it’s because I posted something similar in 2010. Funny – circumstances changed between posts, but what I wrote then still applies to my life now, three years later (even the part about the Saints!). Thank You, Lord, for bringing me back to this place.
In the United States, today is Thanksgiving, a day to celebrate our blessings and tell God thanks for giving them to us.
This year, even though part of the family is on the road, we’re keeping the tradition of having our biggest meal of the year. In our house that means the kitchen becomes an all-you-can-eat buffet with two meats and far too many side dishes for five people. It’s the only time of year we fix enough food at one time to eat the leftovers for a whole week.
This year when I bow my head over the family banquet, I’ll be giving thanks for many things: a steady paycheck and a decent car to transport me there; an intact family whose members actually like each other; good friends and a loving church family; a roof over my head, stable health, having a winning football team to cheer for (Geaux Saints!); and most of all, my life in Christ which, even after 25 years, is filled with peace and joy in the midst of life’s trials.
In 1996, my Thanksgiving was very different. I was far from family and home, having gone to South America with my employer, his wife and their granddaughter only 16 days before the holiday. We were without a turkey or cranberry sauce, and I was living somewhere other than Mississippi for the first time in conscious memory. I was homesick for my family and feeling lost in a new culture. My faith that God knew what He was doing in moving me there kept me going, but fighting off self-pity was a daily struggle.
Until we got the office set up I was tutoring the boss’s granddaughter, so to teach her and remind myself about gratitude, I asked her to tell me the things she was thankful to have. I took her thoughts and a few of my own, blended them into a poem, and read it as a prayer when we gathered for our Thanksgiving Day dinner. The main dish wasn’t turkey, and my parents were several thousand miles away, but that poem-prayer helped me have a good holiday with my surrogate family.
Here’s what I wrote – feel free to use or adapt it for your family gathering if you like it:
Thanksgiving Day Prayer
Oh dear Lord, now we pray
as we gather round today.
We want to say our thanks to You
for all You are and all You do –
for friends and family far and near,
for ones who’ve gone and those still here;
for pets and toys and reading books,
for homes and clothes and food to cook;
for minds to learn what we should know,
for hands to work and feet to go,
for eyes to see and ears to hear,
and voices to sing loud and clear;
for the hearts Your Spirit calls His home
and the Son who died for everyone –
for all You are and all You do,
Oh Lord, we give our thanks to You.
© 1996 Traci Bonney
November 28, 1996