Blessings Before the Meal
At family gatherings we always say a blessing before the meal. Most of the time it is a traditional blessing, but some are borrowed from great historical figures (David Hayes, we are looking at you) and some are irreverent (Howard Garland and Uncle Harry), but all evoke our thankfulness at the gathering.
Author Notes: Nanny (Alice Oldfield Topping) had a large family of four grown children with grandchildren and great grandchildren who gathered at her home in Fox Hill for Christmas Day lunch for years. She was an excellent cook and a sweet, great grandmother. This is the blessing she said before those meals and the one I chose to memorize for my fourth grade assignment to recite a blessing to the class. With Dorothy Topping Flynn’s help (Nanny’s 97 year old daughter) in July 2014, we wrote it down from our combined memory.
Good Lord in heaven bless us and make us humble and truly thankful for these blessings which we are about to receive and all others. In God’s name we pray. Amen.
Author Notes: This prayer is attributed to George Washington and is said to have been written by him on Christmas at Valley Forge. David Hayes has said this prayer at many family gatherings at our house and it is a favorite not just for its content but for its rich connection to history and the joy it gives to all the family history buffs and historic house tour aficionados (Capers, Hayes & William).
Father of All Men:
To Thee we raise thankful hearts for deliverance from forces of evil…
Deliver us also, we beseech Thee, from the greater danger of ourselves,
Have mercy upon us and forgive us for our part in the present desolation of the world.
Awake us each time to a sense of our responsibility in saving the world from ruin.
Open our minds and eyes and hearts to the desperate plight of millions.
Arouse us from indifference into action.
Let none of us fail to give his utmost in sympathy, understanding, thought, and effort.
Fulfill in us and through us
Thy glorious intention: that Thy peace,
Thy love, and Thy justice may enter into the regeneration of the world.
Uncle Harry’s Blessing
Author Notes: Uncle Harry was a storyteller and a treasure and never met a stranger – these are characteristics that have been passed on to others in our family with us now.
Good God (substitute “gravy” for “God”)
Howard Garland Blessing
Author Notes: Howard Garland was a faithful Episcopalian and always said a lovely blessing. Every once in a while he would throw this blessing in after the formal one at Thanksgiving. He learned it from his father, Vanalda Howard, born in 1872.
Howard had a favorite “foody” expression that I had never heard before. When asked to pass the pepper at a family gathering, he said “be careful, pepper will steal your emotions”.
Good Lord above,
Look down upon these owls
Who are about to partake this fowl
And save the bones
For Simon Jones.