By Bill Dodds
If you're concerned about making the most of Thanksgiving Day 2007, think a little less Martha Stewart and little more ... well ... leper.
No offense to Martha and her many skills, but let's face it: Odds are you're going to burn those pie crusts, butcher -- rather than "carve" -- that roasted turkey or end up with a centerpiece that doesn't "celebrate the harvest" as much as it "resembles a vegetable bin" at your local grocery store.
You know that, of course. That's easy. What's hard -- when smelling those black-rimmed pies, standing elbow-deep in those hot turkey parts or realizing that centerpiece looks a lot like the neighbor's compost pile -- is remembering that none of those things really matter.
That's when it helps to consider "Leper 10."
You know the story. It's the Gospel for Thanksgiving Day Mass (Lk 17:11-19). Ten lepers start yelling at Jesus, asking for help. He tells them to go show themselves to the priests. On the way, they're all cured, but only one comes back to thank Our Lord.
From tots to seniors, all of us are pretty good about making our needs (and wants) known. And, having been trained as tots, most of us know it helps -- as well as being the right thing to do -- to say "please" when making a request. But then, having been given the gift, we tend to lose our focus on the giver. Our eyes are fixed on the prize. Or we suddenly notice there's something else we want, and we start yammering for that. "Please, please, please."
You also know the fourth Thursday of November is a day set aside -- as a secular as well as a religious feast -- to thank the giver. To thank a parent, whether living or dead. To thank a sibling. A spouse. A son or daughter. A friend, co-worker, neighbor, teacher.
To thank God -- the one who created you, the one who keeps you in existence. The one who loves you no matter what you do and who, by the way, knows exactly what you've done.
When we talk about a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, it usually means the turkey, dressing and potatoes, otherwise known as the main-menu items. And "the trimmings": the "fancy" olives, the celery stuffed with pimento cream cheese and so on.
To make the most of this Thanksgiving, try keeping in mind that the true "meat and potatoes" of this day aren't the meat and potatoes. In fact, the entire menu -- as well as the football games on television, the good tablecloth and china, the parade, the floats and all the rest -- are really "the trimmings."
But, of course, you know that, too. Thank God you know what Thanksgiving is really all about. Thank God you can celebrate its true beauty and experience its moments of grace with your loved ones.
Gratitude. It's a good thing.
Thanksgiving Day prayer
May be used at the family dinner table with one of the blessings of the table and a Scripture reading (Phil 4:4-7)
Lord, we thank you for the goodness of our people and for the spirit of justice that fills this nation.
We thank you for the beauty and fullness of the land and the challenge of our cities.
We thank you for our work and our rest, for one another and for our homes.
We thank you, Lord.
(Pause for other prayers of thanksgiving)
For all that we have spoken and for all that we keep in our hearts, accept our thanksgiving on this day.
We pray and give thanks through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Psalm of thanksgiving (Ps 34:2-5)
I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and be glad.
O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!
I sought the Lord, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.
Source:"Catholic Family Prayer Book" (OSV, $24.95)
Bill Dodds, along with his wife, Monica, is the editor of My Daily Visitor and authors of "Encyclopedia of Mary" (OSV, $24.95).
Please note: Comments left online may be considered for publication in the Letters to the Editor section of OSV Newsweekly.
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