Monday, August 6, 2007

Giving Thanks

We’ve been saying grace on and off for a few years now. Sometimes we forget, other times we’re so rushed to finish dinner and get on with the evening that we just skip it. For a while Sabrina did not want to hold hands and refused to say Amen, and she almost never wanted to add to what we were thankful for. What started off as a lovely way to begin the one meal we have as a family was turning into just another thing to get through on the long path to bed, kind of like brushing teeth.

But just a few nights ago as we started to eat, Sabrina said, “What do I want to say thank you for?” She often asks questions she wants to be asked as a way of introducing a topic. I asked her, and she had a whole list of things… ending with “thank you for all the suns, all the moons and all the stars in the night. Amen.” Nobody in our home has ever said it better. Grace is back on the table.

I’ve witnessed families handling this custom in different ways, some religious and others not. We’re still figuring out what will work for our family, and what works will likely change over the years, but here are some inspiring ideas:

  • Family members take turns saying grace
  • Everyone says the same prayer or expression of thanks together
  • Every person at the table says something they are grateful for
  • Every person at the table says one good thing, one bad thing that has happened that day
  • The parents take turns saying the same prayer
  • After the prayer, everyone together says a little cheer about the family
  • Family members take turns selecting and reading prayers and poems from a book, like the charmingly illustrated Saying Grace: Blessings for the Family Table edited by Sarah McElwain

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