Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Blessings

Anna June has been bringing home artwork of Indians in teepees, cornucopias filled with fruit, and turkeys. It must be time for Thanksgiving!

Above is what she brought home from church on Sunday: a list of things she's thankful for - including Mom, Dad, dog, and house, bike, food, flowers, sun, and the thing that looks like a flag but she told me was "air." I'm pretty grateful for air, myself.

We talk about why we're thankful on a pretty regular basis. We used to try saying a blessing before dinner, but when AJ objected, we switched to saying one thing that we're thankful for. Unfortunately, we're not the most consistent folks, so when Thursday rolls around, AJ will either have a long list, or else she'll go blank. We've got a couple of days to work on this.

My family celebrates Thanksgiving, but we focus almost entirely on the food and each other. It's very casual - we don't dress up and wear ties. We don't drag out the good china, crystal or silver. There was a small window of opportunity for this before AJ was born, when we were all grown and fairly confident we could avoid smashing stemware, but we sort of missed that. We can't even get through dinner without spilled milk or a major sauce malfunction, so a special occasion in tight quarters is a particular challenge. We are glad we hold more of the Chinet plate/Solo cup type gatherings, where it's OK to be interested or not interested in the football game, the kids are allowed to be loud, and TV trays are a necessity.

We do, however, manage to say a blessing. Sometimes, I am asked to do this, and, even if I know it is coming, I tend to stumble over my words, stammering the phrases I so often heard my late grandfather and grandmother use in their family blessings, "bless this food and the hands that have prepared it," "bless it to our bodies and our bodies to Your service," "forgive us for our sins, whether they are of comission or omission," and more.

I was thinking of pre-meal blessings when I couldn't sleep this morning, and there are some tried and true ones that have been used with kids that come to mind. I am hoping AJ will join me in reciting one of these on Thursday, rather than listening to me say, over and over and in different phrases, how grateful I am for my family and for delicious food.

First of all, when I picture a family saying grace, I picture a whole family bowing their heads and simultaneously saying the word, "grace." I am sure I got this image from TV or a movie somewhere, but it is stuck in my head. Really, that sums up what we're most thankful for - grace, in all its forms. God's saving grace, amazing grace, grace that is greater than all our sins. But also grace in its little moments: when AJ looks at me and says, "I want to snuggle," or when my husband doesn't seem to mind when I forget to do the laundry for the third day in a row, or when my parents say, yes, AJ can come over (again) so you can have peace and quiet. I consider those things grace.

Side note: Anne Lamott, has a book out called Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers. I haven't yet read it, but I have read her work before. Her Bird by Bird is one of the best books on writing I've ever read, and my dad recommended it to me years ago. Anyway, just seeing the title of this book makes me want to read it, because that sums up each of the prayers I've ever prayed: help, thanks, or wow.

I hope not to get lengthy, but I do hope that we can muster more than one word. To be honest, a standard call-and-response greeting would also sufficiently show our gratitude:
God is good.
All the time!
All the time!
God is good!

Here is the blessing that my brothers and I were taught when we were small:

God is great
God is good
Let us thank Him
For our food
By His hands
We all are fed
Thank you, God
For daily bread
Amen.

Again, we're not the biggest on consistency in our family, and sometimes, we'd forget to say the blessing before dinner and go with Granddaddy Elwyn's motto, "The good Lord knows we're thankful!" But I still felt like we SHOULD return thanks, and probably one of the first things I ever made up (i.e. wrote, altered) was this blessing, to be said after the meal:

God is good
God is great
Thank Him for the
Food we ate.
Amen.

Anna June learned a couple of good ones while she was at McElwain, to be sung.

The first one is to the tune of Frère Jacques:
God our father,
God our father,
We thank you
For our food
Bless it to our bodies
Bless it to our bodies
A-a-men
A-a-men

The second one is to the tune of Mary Had a Little Lamb:
Thank you, God, for our lunch
For our lunch
For our lunch
Thank you, God, for our lunch
A-a-a-men

Our friend Julianne visited the other day, and her dad John shared a sweet blessing that she had learned at nursery school:

We love the bread,
We love the butter.
But most of all
We love each other.

My favorite one, though, is one I saw on Gold Shoe Blog a while back, while the author's son was still in preschool.

Thank you, God,
For the food before us,
The friends beside us,
And the love between us.

I think I want to use that one, substituting the word "family" for "friends," because everyone who will be there is either actually related to us or close enough to consider family.

For them, and for each of you, I am thankful.

Amen.

2 comments:

Granny Annie and Auntie Nonny said...

+I REALLY LOVE HER DRAWING!!!!!!! The Mom and Dad are SO-O=O-O cute! I think you got a hairdo, and Shenandoah evidently got a really bad toupee. Probably to distract attention from his unusually large and irregular eyes!( OH! Probably Glasses , no??)


Seriously, I DO LOVE art at this stage in development!!I think she is doing GREAT!!!!!This pic is a KEEPER!

Laura Gallitz said...

I think those are glasses. I can't believe she got a "working on it" on her report card about begins to draw and recognize parts of the body. She's doing as well as I can do!