Tomorrow marks one of my favorite holidays: Thanksgiving. Many of us are going to be busy today—cooking, cleaning, baking, and running back to the store for that missed ingredient. But in the midst of our busyness, I encourage us to plan on doing one additional activity tomorrow, and that is what the holiday is all about: praise and thanksgiving.
When I was young, we attended morning Mass on Thanksgiving. Our church was packed, and the spirit was one of joy and gratitude. Afterward, the day was spent watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, visiting family and friends, and enjoying traditional holiday foods.
It was only after I moved and joined a new parish in my mid-teens that I realized that not all churches are packed on Thanksgiving Day. It is certainly not a Holy Day of Obligation, but it is a nice thought to begin this day of thanks at the very place we receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, which in Greek is eucharisteo, which means thanksgiving.
I certainly understand that it is not always easy or even possible to attend Mass on Thanksgiving. Many of us are traveling; some of us are young mothers with a house full of children; the weather might be bad. Our Lord certainly understands all of this and more! But since Thanksgiving Day can be a bit stressful—with so much food to cook, so many family members to visit, so many dishes to wash—let’s begin Thanksgiving Day with heartfelt gratitude of any kind to set the tone, keep our peace, and bless our families.
Before you put the turkey in the oven or set the table, give thanks and praise to God! Here are three prayer ideas that can easily be incorporated into your Thanksgiving Day. Doing one or more of them will help us feel more peaceful, poised and content—no matter what else happens that day.
- Attend morning Mass on your own or as a family.
- Get up early for some quiet time—pray morning prayers with Magnificat; read and meditate on the daily Gospel; recite a Rosary, asking Mary to hold your hand throughout the entire day; journal a gratitude list to God.
- As guests arrive, encourage them to think of a few things they are grateful for. Then, spend time going around the dinner table, sharing what you are thankful for.
- BONUS idea: When things get a bit stressful, simply pause, grab a cup of coffee (or wine), recite the Psalm above, and thank God for one good thing in your life.
May God bless you and your family this Thanksgiving Day!