The Postscript: A day dedicated to feeling grateful

Published 10:24 pm Wednesday, November 21, 2018

By Carrie Classon


I have always liked Thanksgiving.

I know its origins are a little dubious. I cringe a little when I think about the construction paper Indian costumes and the happy story I learned as a child about that first Thanksgiving. I cringe a little more when I read about people missing their holiday meal so they can work at retail jobs where people will wait for hours at the store’s entrance to buy things. I don’t understand this, I have to confess. I have never been in such a hurry to buy anything in my life.

But even if the mythology of Thanksgiving is a little suspect and the current traditions can be a little crass, I like Thanksgiving because I cannot dislike a day dedicated to feeling grateful.

My first Thanksgivings were spent at the farmhouse where my mother grew up. If I had to put my finger on the moment that made it Thanksgiving, I would say it was at that moment after all the food had been piled onto the big dining room table, and grandma (for just a moment) had her apron off, and the cousins (for just a moment) had been herded together into some sort of group, and everyone (for the one and only time all day) had fallen more or less quiet. Then we would sing the blessing. My mother’s family had a lot of good singers in it, sisters who played the piano and sang harmony in the church. And so someone, an aunt I am sure, would begin:

Be present at our table Lord,

We didn’t ask for help, or intercession, or forgiveness. We just asked the God we believed in to be there with us.

Be here and everywhere adored.

But not just with us; we asked for God’s presence to be everywhere it was welcomed.

These mercies bless and grant that we…

We asked for all this abundance to be blessed—all that was on our table, in our hearts, and standing there beside us, singing in the farmhouse. Then, in my family, we concluded:

May strengthened for Thy service be.

I have since learned there are many ways to finish this prayer. The more common ending is: “May live in fellowship with Thee.” Some families sing, “May feast in Paradise with Thee.” But my mother’s family was a farming family and we asked for strength to keep on working. Feasting in Paradise might have been fine for some families, but that was a little more than any of us could imagine. Asking for strength so we could keep on doing what we had been doing seemed like a pretty safe bet and, perhaps, not too much to ask.

Then we sang, “Amen,” and we ate. There were many more people than chairs so the cousins sat on the stairway and the aunts squeezed side by side on the couch and some uncles ate standing up—despite my grandmother’s repeated warnings that this would lead to fat feet. And the table would be filled with enough pies to nearly cover its surface, served with whipped cream and weak coffee. And a cold wind would rattle the last stubborn leaves hanging on the trees, reminding us that colder days were ahead.

And so, even though I am many miles away from my family and years away from that farmhouse, I am going to sing today.

Be present at our table Lord,

Be here and everywhere adored.

These mercies bless and grant that we

May strengthened for Thy service be.

Because it’s a simple request, and a good one.

Till next time,



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