Alternative Thanksgiving blessings

What words do you use to say grace at Thanksgiving? Do you use a traditional grace, or are you looking for an alternative blessing for you Thanksgiving dinner? As Unitarian Universalists (UUs), we have lots of options when it comes to saying grace at Thanksgiving.

When I was a UU child, we often had Thanksgiving dinner with my mother’s twin and her family. Our cousins were all older than my sisters and I, and we looked up to them. Both our families were UU families, and one year at Thanksgiving our eldest cousin said she was going to say grace before dinner, using a grace she had heard in her UU congregation’s youth group. My mother and father and aunt and uncle all liked the idea, and told her to go ahead. She had us all join hands, and then said, “Rub-a-dub-dub, thanks for the grub, yay God!” I’m not sure the adults at the table were particularly impressed, but my sisters and I were definitely impressed.

Even if you never say grace at any other time of the year, Thanksgiving is a good time to pause before eating, and give thanks for your food. The challenge for us religious liberals is coming up with pleasing ways to give thanks that don’t rely on traditional Christian theology. My UU friend Craig Schwalenberg adapted this grace from his Lutheran childhood:

Cherished family, friends, and guests,
Let this food to us be blessed.
Bless those people who made this food.
May it feed our work for good.

Another friend of mine, Emma Mitchell, grew up as a Unitarian Universalist, and says her family used to say this for grace (and children got to choose whether to refer to God as “her” or “him”):

God is great, God is good,
Let us thank (her) (him) for our food.

I wrote the following grace to remind us of the interdependent web of existence, including farmworkers and the wider ecosystem (there’s a tune that goes with this, and it’s online here):

Praise workers laboring hard in their fields,
May sun and moon increase their yields,
May the soil be blessed by falling silver rains,
As we offer thanks to Mother Earth again.

What’s your favorite alternative Thanksgiving blessing? UUCPA member Kris Geering writes: “For the pagan-friendly folks, I like this grace (there’s a tune you can sing it to, but it’s good as is):”

Give thanks to the Mother Goddess,
Give thanks to the Father Sun.
Give thanks to the plants and the flowers in the garden
Where the Father and the Mother are one.

Rev. Amy Zucker-Morgenstern, our senior minister at UUCPA, sent in the following grace:

Our family grace is to hold hands and say “Thank you for the food,” in as many languages as are known by people at the table. Common variations include thanks to the farmworkers, truckers, people who invented whatever cuisine it is, Mommy or Mama for cooking, etc.

And Vanessa from UUCPA writes:

Here’s another mealtime grace (which got my cousin into trouble with our devout grandmother):

Good bread, good meat,
Good God, let’s eat!

We also like to simply hold hands and observe a moment of silence before eating.

What about you? what’s your favorite non-traditional Thanksgiving grace?

Cross-posted here.


Summer Sunday school: Blob Tag and Jataka tales

August 19 entry from Dan Harper’s teaching diary; as usual, children’s names are fictitious.

We’ve been getting 8 to 12 children in grades K-6 in our summer Sunday school class — a nice group size that allows children of different ages to get to know each other. Such a small group size makes it easy to change your plans at the last minute, too. At 9:25, five minutes before heading in to the worship service, Edie, my co-teacher, and I revised our plan. We were supposed to take a walk to the nearby city park, but neither one of us felt like dealing with the hassle of getting permission slips signed.

“Let’s stay here,” said Edie. “We can play giant Jenga.” Last winter, the middle school group had made a game based on Jenga (a trademarked game invented by Leslie Scott), using two-by-fours for the blocks. The middle school kids had played this game on the patio during social hour, and the younger kids were fascinated by it.

“Do you want a story?” I said. I had just gotten an old story book, More Jataka Tales by Ellen C. Babbit (1923), and there was one story I wanted to tell to children.


Week 8 – How do you start your RE lessons?

This week, I was hoping you might share a little bit about how you start your RE sessions. How do gather the children? How do you introduce the topic? How do get kids interested in the lesson? Are there things you find particularly effective? What do you find challenging about getting started?

Please post your thoughts in as a comment to this blog entry. In general, please use first names only, initials or pseudonymns when mentioning people, especially children.

Note: some comments may be moderated and take up to 24 hours to appear.

If you prefer, you can write a note and send it to Rev. Dan using this Microsoft Word template.


Bloom’s taxonomy for CRE teachers

I came across an easy-to-understand version of Bloom’s taxonomy of levels of learning in the cognitive domain at a Learning Today blog posting that CRE teachers may find useful when lesson planning and reflecting on a Sunday school session.

There is a nice Bloom’s taxonomy poster for elementary teachers here.

To learn more about Bloom’s taxonomies, go here.