Myths and Legends

The Thanksgiving imagery of pilgrims and Native Americans is probably as much myth as it is fact. A few weeks ago, my Mom and I were reading various articles speculating on the true origins of the holiday. While some historical accounts claim there may have been a feast similar to the grade school tale of natives and settlers eating together, other sources point to the Civil War as the origins of the holiday, while others credit the Church of England, and others argue the holiday may date back as early as the ancient Romans and Greeks.

But as we gather today with family, friends, and those who are dear to us, it struck me that our own lives are often as mythical as that first Thanksgiving. The stories we tell of our lives--our families, our careers, our struggles, our relationships, etc--shape us and make us who we are.

At Thanksgiving, one of the family myths that we share is about my Grandfather. I never knew the man, but I know that he was a World War II veteran who fought in the Pacific. He was a devout catholic who felt called and dedicated himself to the priesthood. When he met my grandmother--a protestant girl--he gave up his family and his livelihood in pursuit of love.

On his last Thanksgiving, before dying of a sudden and massive heart attack in his 40s, my grandfather penned a few thoughts on Thankfulness. While I never knew the man, his prayers echo in my own life. He prayed for things like family, home, life, nature, music, love, children, futures, parents, freedom, and blessings.

So on this day of mythologies, loved ones, and gratitude, I'd like to share with you—from my family to yours—my Grandfather's Thanksgiving Grace.

“A Prayer of Thanksgiving” by George O’Brien

We thank thee Lord, for the house and the people that make it a home.
We are grateful to be alive and receive the bounty you have showed to us…
For the sunrise, the sunset, the heat and light between.
For the clouds which sometimes hide the sun but send down the rain so that the grass and trees and flowers might drink and become the beauty all around us.
For music, and love, and the little children who remind us of faith, and trust, and hope for the future.
For our parents, whose sacrifices and sorrows and joys we cannot understand until we ourselves become parents.
For our freedom and our country…may it always be free and give freedom.
And most of all, we thank you for this day which we, thoughtless as we are, might never pause to consider all we have to be thankful for.
For these and all your blessings, Lord, we give thee thanks.
Amen.

Zach Herzog

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