Sunday, November 30, 2014

    If someone asks you to say "grace" at Thanksgiving

    We will be spending Thanksgiving with my daughter, her boyfriend and the boyfriend's family.  I know that my daughter has been religious in the past and it's likely that the rest of the attendees are also on the religious side.  In case someone asks me to say "grace" at the bounteous table, it seemed reasonable to be prepared.  The internet, as we all know, is full of suggestions for every occasion, including this one.

    From the website Secular Seasons there are a number to choose from.  Some I found in interesting were these:

    ........ from the humanist writer Nicolas Walter:

    Let us think thrice while we are gathering here for this meal. 
    First, let us think of the people we are with today, and make the most of the pleasure of sharing food and drink together.

    Then, let us think of the people who made the food and drink and brought it to us, who serve us and wait on us, and who clear up and clean up after us.

    Finally, let us think of all the people all over the world, members with us in the human family, who will not have a meal today.

    For those who find these humanist graces too long, or don’t want to be reminded of the suffering of others just before a celebratory meal, there are these simple words of secular thanks and good wishes:

    We are thankful for the food on this table.
    We are thankful for this time together.
    Our thoughts go out to family and friends;
    We hope that they are safe and well.

    Or these words of humanist benediction
    For the meal we are about to eat,
    for those that made it possible, 
    and for those with whom we are about to share it,
    we are thankful.

    From the Science Notes blog on Wordpress:

    What a great occasion! We are gathered here together in the safety of our home, each of us taking a moment from our busy, separate lives, to enjoy this wonderful meal with ones we love. Let this evening be a special time in our lives, a blessed stopping point in which we can simply enjoy who we are, where we are, and what we are doing. Let us enjoy this magnificent now with family and friends. Thank you, mother, for preparing this beautiful meal.

    Presumably one could substitute for "mother" as appropriate

    We have created this meal to serve and sustain our lives. Let us enjoy this meal in the full knowledge that all life is purposeful action aimed toward our highest value, our own precious lives and happiness.

    Many of the suggestions I found were way too wordy, especially for folks who are sitting there looking at that glorious meal in front of them.  (You didn't think they were going to bow their heads and close their eyes, did you?)

    This one from the American Humanist Association is a perfect example of TMI:

    A Non-Believers Grace
    I offer my deepest appreciation and my most profound apologies to the plants and animals whose lives were forfeit for our good health this day.

    We give thanks to the ranchers and the farmers, their workers and their hands whose skill, sweat and toil have brought forth this bounty from the Earth.

    We are grateful to the workers in the fields who pick our food, the workers in the plants where our food is processed, the teamsters who carry it to market and the stockers and the checkers who offer it up for our selection.

    We are particularly appreciative for those at this table who have prepared this food with love and affection for our enjoyment and nourishment this day.

    We remember fondly those who the miles and circumstance keep from joining us today as we remember those who are no longer with us and are grateful for the time we have shared with them.

    We enjoy the warmth and fellowship that surrounds this gathering as we share the fervent hope that people the world over can share the good fortune, warm feeling and conviviality that embraces this gathering.

    Thank you.

    Besides the length, I personally also have a little problem with the concept of apologizing not only to the animals but the plants.  If you need to apologize, then don't eat them.  Otherwise, perhaps you could thank them too for their contributions in some manner that doesn't introduce guilt at the very beginning of the speech.  I trust the writer buys only humanely raised and slaughtered turkeys or artisan tofurkey and gently-pulled heirloom carrots.  Needless to say there were lots of interesting comments on the original publication.  Enjoy them at

    And finally, if you're with the right group to appreciate it, here's a short one from

    Thank you glycolysis and electron transport chain, which we are about to receive your STP bounty through phosphorylation.  Amen.

    Trying to figure out the grammar on that one gave me a headache, but I'm impressed that the spell checker got all the words right.  From


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