As the holidays are fast approaching, leading us into a hustle and bustle of planning and preparing, shopping and eating, we need to take a moment to remain focused on their meaning. Our national holiday of Thanksgiving takes its origins from a feast held in 1621 by the Pilgrims and Wampanoag to celebrate a successful harvest, offering thanks, gratitude, and appreciation to God.
Our family includes one particular tradition to remind each of us that Thanksgiving Day isn’t just about the food, family and football. Before our meal, we gather in a circle to listen as each person shares what they’re thankful for, and then we pray together as one family. This has always been my favorite part of the holiday, to hear everyone, young or old speak from their heart, and you can always count on two things during this circle of Thanks – tears and laughter.
When our Thanks have been offered, we are led in prayer. One year, my Aunt read this prayer to our family. Though I don’t know whether she found it somewhere or wrote it herself, I kept the copy she read from because I found it strikingly beautiful to be prayed aloud in the presence of my family:
Lord, bless this gathering of our family, a circle of strength and love.
We are a close-knit group of fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins and more. With every birth and every union, the circle grows. Every joy shared adds more love. Every crisis faced together makes the circle stronger.
Help us realize how much we mean to each other each and every day and guide us so that our bond of love lasts eternally.
Look down on us Lord and surround us all with your divine guidance and love so that we may continue to be blessed by our children. Grant us the wisdom to embrace their innocence and see the world through their eyes with simple wonder so that we might not take for granted one single moment of the miracle that is life.
We thank you for the many blessings and great abundance in our lives. As we gather to celebrate this Thanksgiving, let us remember to share with others and keep the spirit of giving ongoing throughout the year.
We Thank Thee, Heavenly Father, for all things bright and good. Please bless this loving family… our lives, our health, our food. We ask these things in Jesus’ name.
If you’re looking for inspiration for your own Thanksgiving prayers, take a look at the ones at AmericanCatholic.org.