Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It straddles the secular and spiritual, and has evolved into a celebration of family in a way that our other national holidays have not. The food is great too!
For many years, my wife and I have happily traded the work of hosting for the hassle of travel, and we have developed our own family traditions. Among them is a reading, right before we dig in to dinner, of something evocative of the meaning of “thanksgiving.” I have varied the content from year to year, including such things as the AJC’s “Thanksgiving Reader” and various Presidential proclamations of Thanksgiving. I usually add the “generic” Jewish prayer of thanksgiving, recited at happy and significant occasions.
This year, I plan on including this Thanksgiving prayer that I came across a few years ago. It is by Naomi Levy, and comes from her book, Talking to God. For me, it summarizes the true meaning of the day:
For the laughter of the children,
For my own life breath,
For the abundance of food on this table,
For the ones who prepared this sumptuous feast,
For the roof over our heads,
The clothes on our backs,
For our health,
And our wealth of blessings,
For this opportunity to celebrate with family and friends,
For the freedom to pray these words
In any language,
In any faith,
In this great country,
Whose landscape is as vast and beautiful as her inhabitants.
Thank You, God, for giving us all these. Amen.