God, we thank you for this meal.
We thank you for this warm house in which we gather.
We thank you for one another.
We thank you, seriously, I mean, I really do mean it, for one another.
We thank you for delivering us all safely here, despite icy rains and wind and snow. We thank you that not a single member of this family caused bodily harm to themselves or others during the process of traveling here. We ask your forgiveness for any unkind or murderous thoughts that may have crossed our minds during the ten unexpected hours we spent together in a confined vehicle. Your gift is called “Patience,” God, and we’re grateful for it today, because without it, we would undoubtedly be fewer in number right now.
We thank you for this beautiful turkey. We thank you for Aunt Martha, who slaved over this meal for hours in a hot kitchen. We also thank you for Cousin Emily, and her generous offering of Tempeh-Lentil Stew and Butternut Squash Risotto. We are reminded of your words, “Judge not lest ye should be judged.” We judge not that Emily has committed to living a cruelty-free vegan lifestyle, and Emily shall judge us not as we gleefully carve away at our bountiful table of animal meat.
We thank you that our table is a place of comfort and warmth for all, except Billy, who works in retail. We thank you for Billy, God, and ask that you watch over him lest he be trampled upon, in the fervor of the holiday season.
We thank you for the gift of this wine. Let our cups overfloweth, but not too much, lest we overfloweth right back up upon our shoes and the carpet.
We thank you for your gifts of Peace, God. We thank you for your gifts of Wisdom. We ask that you bestow both these qualities upon us as we break bread together, where we may feel compelled to share our views upon matters political and religious, personal and offensive. We ask for your Grace as we attempt to navigate a conversation without the use of the following phrases: “feminazi,” “socialist president,” “Sharia law,” “redneck,” “fiscal cliff,” “buggery,” “birth certificate.”
We thank you for the laws that govern our society. Whether they be “Do onto others as you would have them do unto you,” or “No shoes, no shirt, no service,” or “Please keep hands and feet within moving vehicle at all times,” we think they are generally useful guidelines, and we will keep them our thoughts tonight.
We thank you for your gift of Trust, God. We are so thankful for Cousin Jay, and in your spirit we shall trust that his allergies are indeed acting up, and seek no other explanation for his reddened eyes, high-pitched giggles, and overall enthusiasm for the bounty of food before us. We thank you for your gift of Understanding, God, and we shall do our best to understand Cousin Mary’s new boyfriend “Hellcat,” and his array of fascinating tattoos.
We thank you for your gifts of Wonder, God. We thank you that the members of the family can join their heads together in this prayer, knowing that while some of us imagine you are a bearded white man up there in the clouds, others picture, say, a Buddha, or a cloud of gas and stars, or a woman, or nothing at all. We thank you in the hopes that this prayer might have meaning for all who gather here, regardless of how they envision its recipient.
We thank you for one another, as we look around the table, at family young and old, rich and poor, from nearby and from far away. We thank you for this time we have together. We thank you for deep breaths. We thank you for laughter. We thank you for therapy.
We thank you for this holiday.
Pass the potatoes.