Scott's View: May your stuffing be tasty!
By Scott Anthony
Every fourth Thursday in November, when we sit down as families and friends to enjoy a meal and to give thanks, it is natural for us to acknowledge the divine aspects of our lives and just before we have our special meal, to say a prayer. In the early autumn of 1621, fifty-three Pilgrims who survived the previous, terrible winter in Plymouth, Massachusetts gathered to give thanks for the harvest. According to the writings of one of the members of the original Mayflower party, one Edward Winslow wrote in Olde English;
‘…many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest king Massasoyt, with some ninetie men, whom for three dayes we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five Deere, which they brought to the Plantation and bestowed on our Governour, and upon the Captaine and others. And although it be not always so plentifull, as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so farre from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plentie."
Although this may not qualify entirely as a formal prayer, the meaning is understood and the tradition has followed us ever since.
The Hindu Prince Gautama Siddhartha, the founder of Buddhism more commonly known as ‘Buddha’ said, “Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; so, let us all be thankful.”
American essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson offered this prayer, ‘For each new morning with its light, For rest and shelter of the night, For health and food, For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.’ If you are the impatient sort but still want to be proper (and for the pilgrim in you) there is this old cowboy prayer that could have been a line in a John Wayne movie, ‘Bless this food, and us that eats it.’
My pal Tony sent me this lovely italian blessing which goes, ‘Benedici Signore noi e il cibo che stiamo per prendere, fà che non manchi mai a nessuno in nessuna parte del mondo, specialmente ai bambini’ and which means in english, ‘Bless us o Lord and the food we are going to have, let it not to lack to anyone anywhere in the world, especially to children’
The following grace was said to have been used by nurses in a civilian hospital in wartime England in 1940: 'We thank the Lord for what we have. For a little more, we would be glad. But as food's so short and times so rough, we thank the Lord we have enough.'
Prolific American poet, Edgar A. Guest tickled funny bones with his blessing, ‘When turkey's on the table laid, And good things I may scan,
I'm thankful that I wasn't made, A vegetarian.’
As I was not raised in a particularly religious household, my Dad used to tease us with a jokey sort of dinner prayer, ‘Good bread, good meat, good God, let’s eat!’ And my brother likes to recite this one at family meals, ‘Over the lips and past the gums, look out stomach, here it comes!’ But he’s such a terrible cook that Thanksgiving Day at his house is a time of sorrow. My father-in-law, the Famous Russian takes his meal blessings more seriously, ‘The poor shall eat and be filled, and they that seek the Lord shall praise him; their hearts shall live for ever and ever.’ But when prodded, he will add mischieviously, ‘Bodlivoy korove bog rog ne dayot!’ which he said means, ‘Trust in God, but hold onto your goods and your mind!’ but which another Russian friend of mine says actually means, ‘God does not give horns to a cow that likes to gore.’ Either way I suppose you’re covered, but one of my favorite meal blessings was written anonymously:
May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious
and your pies take the prize,
and may your Thanksgiving dinner
stay off your thighs!
To you and yours, Happy Thanksgiving.