Thanksgiving dinner at my great-aunt’s house was something to behold. My maternal grandfather’s Irish Catholic family was huge – 16 siblings. Aunts, uncles and their children all crammed into the small living room and dining room. The women in the family cackled at each other in the kitchen about gravy-making technique and the readiness of the turkey. They unveiled dish after dish, bringing them proudly to the buffet table in the dining room. Mashed potatoes, green bean casserole (my favorite!), sweet potatoes, stuffing and the centerpiece turkey vied for attention on the overcrowded table.
Too many people attended these gatherings to have us all sit at the table at once, so we each took one of the fancy china plates, filled it to the brim and brought it to the living room, and ate, balancing the plate on our laps. All afternoon, we grazed on the buffet table between plays of the Dallas-Washington game.
One thing that is missing from my vivid memories of these vibrant holiday gatherings is faith. All my extended family was devout Catholics, never missing Sunday mass. All children, like me, attended Catholic schools. But, outside the obligatory Catholic meal blessing, I don’t ever recall talk about faith.
My experience was typical. For decades, church was church and home was home and never the twain ever met. I hope and pray we can change that. Where should our faith be practiced if not at home at special family gatherings?
So, as I’m planning my own Thanksgiving meal, I’m adding faith practices to the menu. I have Vibrant Faith Ministries’ Milestones Blessing Bowl and Faithtalk cards at the ready on my table. And, I’ve been surfing the internet not just for recipes, but for Thanksgiving traditions for my family and friends. Here’s some ideas you might want to use, too. You can see even more on my Pinterest board, Thanksgiving Rituals:
- Invite everyone around the table to talk about what they are thankful for. (This idea is not new or original, but we can’t be grateful enough.)
- Read a scripture from the day’s lectionary.
- Invite people to share stories using the Milestone Blessing Bowl or Faithtalk Cards.
- Invite children to prepare favorite holiday dishes while you tell them stories about your favorite Thanksgiving memories.
- Teach children an age-appropriate prayer and ask them to lead it before eating the meal. I really like this five-finger prayer.
What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving rituals and traditions? How have you integrated faith into your holiday?