What I Learned on Thanksgiving

Men can cook.

That’s what I learned this Thanksgiving (1993). Men can prepare a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, given enough time, a willingness to experiment and take risks, and a lack of women willing or able to do it for them. I roasted and carved a turkey, which I have done every year since I began working full time (the company gives everyone a turkey as a Christmas bonus). I made stuffing from scratch for the first time this year. I made giblet gravy from scratch. I made a Jello salad (for the first time ever) and a tossed salad. The stuffing and the Jello salad were made the night before?that’s what I mean about allowing enough time. I had never made Jello before at all, let alone Jello with things floating in it. You don’t add the fruit pieces right away, because they will all sink to the bottom. You are supposed to let it set slightly first. Well, I waited too long, so my Jello had stuff sitting on the top. That’s what I mean by a willingness to take risks. Daniel’s sister made the mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes. The pie came from the grocery store.

Thanksgiving is an odd holiday. It’s sort of religious, but nothing like Christmas or Yom Kippur. It’s sort of patriotic, but not nearly as much as Independence Day or even Veterans’ Day.

When I was growing up it was taken for granted that we would offer a prayer of thanks to God before the Thanksgiving dinner, as we did before every meal. And it was definitely a Christian prayer, not a generic one. That was fine with everyone in the family.

But this year I hosted guests who did not all have the same religious beliefs and who may not have found a specifically Christian prayer to be meaningful for them. But it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without giving thanks. I wanted to give an appropriate prayer for this sort-of-but-not-really religious holiday. This is what I came up with:

Dear God, giver of all our gifts, we thank you for this meal and for the opportunity to share it together. May the food nourish our bodies and may the fellowship nourish our spirits. Amen.

Just because the prayer is generic doesn’t mean my spirituality is. If you were to come to my house on Christmas, you would certainly hear about Jesus.


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