Suggestions for a Prayerful Thanksgiving (And FUN!)

BEFORE THE DAY BEGINS:  

  • Set DVR to pre-record Thanksgiving Day parade(s) and Football Games; pre-record or purchase/rent CHARLIE BROWN THANKSIVING or other cartoons
  • Book or Paper Copy of OVER THE RIVER & THROUGH THE WOODS by Lydia Maria Child * and other Autumn / Thanksgiving Poems such as The MIST & ALL (Keep aside until DESERT COURSE)
  • Community Games to Have on Hand:  Charades, Pictionary, Balderdash
  • A Card Table with Index Cards & pens/pencils, a Small Basket or Shoebox and One Sheet of Paper with these 2 “Treasured Gifts” Questions printed:
    • “What experience this year do I treasure most?”     
    •  “What gift have I received from last Birthday or Christmas to date that I still enjoy?”
  • Music via CD, Spotify, Pandora, YouTube (See item IX below)

II   DURING ARRIVALS and /or Hors D’oeuvres: Invite everyone to print on an index card or post-it their response to this question: “What experience have I treasured most this year?”  and /or “What gift have I received from last Thanksgiving or Christmas to date that I still enjoy?”  Place these “Treasured Gifts” papers in a small basket and place the basket on or near the dining table. During the first course, guests will try to guess who wrote what.

III TRADITIONAL GRACE “PLUS” Each guest identifies how they feel today using one “Feeling Word.” (“Happy,” “Sad,” “Thankful,” “Frustrated,” etc.)  No judgments allowed! Then, pray: “Dear God, Here We Are–Our family and friends–and these are the feelings we bring to this Thanksgiving Day.  Helps us understand the beautiful way You accept each us as we are. Make us confident in your love so that we may be at peace and feel your presence among us.  Help us to make the most of this meal, this day, and our time together.”  Then invite everyone to join in the Traditional Grace before Meals, OR if your company is of mixed religions, substitute the Christian Grace with this: “Blessed are YOU, Source of Life, God known by so many names, help us to experience GRATITUDE, for gratefulness is the pathway to mutual affection and the road to peace. Bless our Meal and our Conversation. Amen.”

III         FIRST COURSE ACTIVITY (Soup/Salad/Antipasto): Treasured Gifts: Each person takes a paper and reads it aloud. Guests try to guess who wrote it—i.e. match the statement with its author.  Once guessed, invite the person to share why he or she is thankful for this gift. 

IV         DURING THE MAIN MEAL: Invite each Guest to share his or her memories of the best Thanksgiving OR ANY SPECIAL MEAL that they have ever experienced and why it is an important memory for him or her.

V          AFTER THE MAIN MEAL PRAYER:  Thanksgiving is a Day of Gratitude which is a Day of Prayer. Before we take a break, I invite us to share our prayers for one another and others.  For whom and what should we pray?” Close with Psalm 121.

VI         AFTER MEAL WALKS & PRE-DESSERT CLEAN UPS: Postpone desert and encourage Physical Activity: walks outdoors or help in the kitchen if weather does not permit, Football fans can catch up on the game; Others PLAY COMMUNITY GAMES and/or access your DVR for the recorded PARADE(s) or Cartoons. 

VII       DURING DESERT:   

  1. Together recall the Thanksgiving Poem: Over the River and Through the Woods –After everyone has had a try reciting or singing a verse, pass around the copy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Over_the_River_and_Through_the_Wood
  2. Invite guests to share any favorite poems, rhymes, riddles or Autumn memories.

VIII      EVERYONE JOINS IN FOR FINAL CLEAN UP (OR, if space limitations in the kitchen, create Two Teams:  Those who go for walks and/or into the living room; and those who help in the Kitchen.  Try to have each team mixed with all ages, both men/woman/boys/girls if possible.  Each team memorizes OVER THE RIVER—as many verses as possible. Afterwards, gather together and see which Team remembers the most. 

IX         SOCIAL TIME:

  • Community Games to Have on Hand:  Charades, Pictionary, Balderdash
    • Dancing: Access Music via CD, Spotify, Pandora, YouTube
      • Old Fashioned WALTZ; I recommend “O Mio Babbino Caro” sung by Kiri Tekanawa (CD: Kiri Te Kanawa Sings Verdi & Puccini Arias;
      • Celebrate Married Couples with “I Dreamed of You” by Barbra Streisand: (CD Barbra Streisand: A Love Like Ours;

X          Farewells As each person prepares to leave, ask if they would like a final Thanksgiving

Blessing.  If yes, the Hosts may place their hands on each guest’s head or shoulders and

pray the PRIESTLY BLESSING from the Book of Numbers, Chapter 6: 24-26:

The Lord bless you and keep you!  The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace! “Conclude with “Safe home!  Godspeed!  God bless!”

OPTIONAL CHARITABLE COMPONENT TO THANKSGIVING DAY: INVTIE GUESTS TO BRING A SINGLE $ 1. BILL for each member of his or her family or party to participated in a PLEASE & THANK YOU GAME. Designate a charity and let them know what the dollars are for in advance OR have everyone vote on one of two or three choices before Grace (E.G, Catholic Charities for Puerto Rico Relief or Catholic Relief Services or Unicef.) Have some extra $1. bills around for those who forget.). The FIRST TIME anyone forgets to say Please” or “Thank You,” from the beginning of the Meal (after Grace) to end of dinner (i.e. “please pass the potatoes; thank you), he or she gets a WARNING.  The SECOND TIME he or she must surrender their dollar into a basket. Proceeds go to the previously announced charity. At the end of the day, people may contribute the Remaining Dollars or additional $ if they wish to the cause.   

More Details at https://frjamesdiluzio.com/2017/11/18/keeping-thanksgiving-spirit-filled/ 

Lydia Maria Child’s OVER THE RIVER AND THROUGH THE WOODS

To Accompany Fr. James DiLuzio Facebook and YouTube videos reciting and singing the same

Over the river and through the wood,

    To grandfather’s house we go;

         The horse knows the way

         To carry the sleigh

    Through the white and drifted snow.

Over the river and through the wood–

    Oh, how the wind does blow!

         It stings the toes

         And bites the nose,

    As over the ground we go.

Over the river and through the wood,

    To have first-rate play.

         Hear the bells ring,

         “Ting-a-ling-ding!”

    Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day!

Over the river and through the wood,

    And straight through the barn-yard gate.

         We seem to go

         Extremely slow–

    It is so hard to wait!

Over the river and through the wood–

    Now grandmother’s cap I spy!

         Hurrah for the fun!

         Is the pudding done?

    Hurrah for the pumpkin-pie!

Source: The Random House Book of Poetry for Children (1983)

These are variations:

The original piece had twelve stanzas, though only four are typically included in the song.

Over the river, and through the wood,
To Grandfather’s house we go;
the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
through the white and drifted snow.

Over the river, and through the wood,
to Grandfather’s house away!
We would not stop for doll or top,
for ’tis Thanksgiving Day.

Over the river, and through the wood—
oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes and bites the nose
as over the ground we go.

Over the river, and through the wood—
and straight through the barnyard gate,
We seem to go extremely slow,
it is so hard to wait!

Over the river, and through the wood—
When Grandmother sees us come,
She will say, “O, dear, the children are here,
bring a pie for everyone.”

Over the river, and through the wood—
now Grandmother’s cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

The following verses appear in a “long version”:

Over the river, and through the wood,
with a clear blue winter sky,
The dogs do bark, and children hark,
as we go jingling by.

Over the river, and through the wood,
to have a first-rate play.
Hear the bells ring, “Ting-a-ling-ding!”,
Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day!

Over the river, and through the wood,
no matter for winds that blow;
Or if we get the sleigh upset
into a bank of snow

Over the river, and through the wood,
to see little John and Ann;
We will kiss them all, and play snow-ball
and stay as long as we can.

Over the river, and through the wood,
trot fast, my dapple-gray!
Spring over the ground like a hunting-hound!
For ’tis Thanksgiving Day.

Over the river, and through the wood,
Old Jowler hears our bells.
He shakes his pow, with a loud bow-wow,[1]
and thus the news he tells.

Variations from http://www.wikiwand.com/en/Over_the_River_and_Through_the_Wood

Homily by Father James on the Gospel of Luke 15: 1-10 The Lost Sheep

Daily Scripture Readings may be accessed here: https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/110520.cfm

Usually when we hear the Parable of the Lost Sheep we think of other people –the relatives and friends who have left the Church, the people in prison for embezzlement, fraud, or violence, or those without any faith.  Today, however, I invite us to see ourselves as Lost Sheep, too, but as people whose faith affirms that Jesus will come and find us.

When we who receive the sacraments hold on to resentments, and brood over injuries—we are Lost Sheep.

When we pass judgment on others especially those who do not vote as we do, think as we do, live as we do—and we want to send them all to hell in a handbasket, we are Lost.

When we are absorbed with “compassion fatigue,” and refuse to hear one more story of anyone or group suffering or victimized, or worse, when we want to blame the victims, we are Lost.

When we despair and believe that nothing good will ever happen again—we are Lost.

Today, we must appreciate faith’s reality that Jesus comes looking for us.  We depend upon Him. We need Him.  For even in our commitment to faith, we delude ourselves that our attitudes are righteous, when, in fact, we are not Christ-like at all.  As we approach the Eucharist today, may we cry out to Jesus: “Here I am Lord. Find me here!” The Good News is Jesus has found us in the past, He is with us now, and he find us again and again and again. For we, the faithful, too, often lose our way. Come, Lord Jesus! Find us here. Inspire us to do your will.