Most days begin with prayer and thanksgiving – for years now I have kept a gratitude journal. This reminds me to focus on all the everyday ordinary blessings I receive as grace. When we gather for a meal as a family, we hold hands and give thanks for our food. Nora calls this our “Maymen.” The table is the same one I mention below in an excerpt from my blog post in 2014.
I am remembering childhood meals around my Terrell grandparent’s table in Smith County, Texas. There were hearty breakfasts with farm fresh eggs, sausage, biscuits and gravy, dinners (at lunchtime) that often included peas and tomatoes from their garden and an iron skillet of cornbread cut into wedges.There were suppers, often the same food reheated or a bowl of soup, and Sunday dinners after church. There were holiday meals at Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas where the table and kitchen were both filled with chicken and dressing or a ham, plus those garden fresh vegetables which had been put up into canning jars. To follow, there would be an assortment of sweets – cookies, sweet potato, pecan, and mince pies, and often a pound cake. The food and occasion might vary, but there was always the same beginning: This, too, was something I could count on. Papa Terrell would say grace. Today we may say a blessing or give thanks, but he always said grace. The words were always the same, and rattled off so quickly I could never understand them. But his posture spoke to my heart with no need for words. Over 70 years later, now I see him clearly in my mind: gray head bent forward and bowed in humility.
“We offer grace at table as a form of waiting with confidence…reciting such a prayer is sometimes referred to as a way of preparing to receive all that has been granted to us. We offer grace in amazement that even the good things we have rejected are being offered again. And then we eat, and the food meets an earthly need of our souls, and we are made whole.” – Cynthia Rigby, W.C. Brown Professor of Theology, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary*
For me, the calendar days designated to Thanksgiving are a wonderful approach to beginning of Advent exactly because of this waiting with confidence…preparing to receive all that has been granted to us. Our family will gather once again around the old oak table, the very same one that Grandma loaded with food and where Papa said grace.