Thanksgiving is one of the biggest meals I prepare every year, and this year is no exception. Members of my family and my husband’s family will be joining us during the week and over the weekend, and we’ll all be pitching in to create a holiday meal. Since this takes place in my kitchen, I do a lot of the work, and most of the prep, for feeding that many people.
At this point I should mention that both my family and my husband’s family are very devoutly Christian. I’m the only truly non-Christian in the bunch, though my husband is mostly non-religious at this point. I’m not open about my Paganism to my family, and I don’t intend to change that.
I also usually don’t get asked to say grace, both because I’ve been resistant to publicly praying aloud since I was about 8 and because I am usually the one who cooked, so it’s weird to thank myself for my hard work.
This usually means standing by and listening to a very explicitly Christian prayer before the meal, delivered usually by one of the dads, while I say my own prayer in my head. This arrangement isn’t too bad, as I’m not hostile to my family, and I know how much their faith means to them. Still, I sometimes wonder if I couldn’t put together a grace that made both them AND me happy.
I did some digging around on the internet and found a number of resources, but most of the non-Christian prayers were pretty explicitly non-Christian, which isn’t going to work in this case. I did, however, find a few things that I think could work.
First, there are a whole list of possible, short prayers in this post by the Offbeat Mama. For an everyday blessing before a meal in a family of blended religions, there are a lot of good options here (especially check out the comments!)
Second, and my favorite for a formal Thanksgiving prayer, are these from Secular Seasons. I think I’d make a few changes, but this is what I have so far, based on the humanist grace from Secular Seasons:
For this meal we are about to eat, let us be truly thankful
for the blessings of sun and wind and rain, that grow the fruits of the Earth
Let us be truly thankful
for those who planted the crops
for those who cultivated the fields
for those who gathered the harvest
Let us be truly thankful
for those who prepared this food and those who served it.
In this time of plenty let us remember too
those who have no festivity
those who cannot share this plenty
those whose lives are more troubled than our own
and all those who are hungry, sick or cold
As we share in this meal, let us be truly thankful
for all the good things we have
for warm hospitality, loving family, and good company.
Our thoughts go out to family and friends who are not here with us;
We hope that they are safe and well.
May this bountiful meal strengthen our bodies, our minds, and our ties to each other. Amen.
It’s far from perfect, but I think it could work in a pinch. I added in some things to make it fit the kinds of things that usually get said around our Thanksgiving table, as well as adding in a bit about thanking the Earth. If I could say any grace I wanted, I’d say a much more polytheistic grace, but I’d rather avoid having a confrontation with my family at Thanksgiving. I could still get questions about not including Jesus in my prayer, but I think this will be poetic and pretty enough to not prompt too many comments.
I’m going to keep tinkering with it and print off a copy for me to keep in my pocket, in case I get asked to say grace. Always better to be prepared!