Today’s post took me an incredibly long time to write. I wanted to share a simple Thanksgiving grace or poem or reading that you might like to share before your meal. But I guess I am too much of a perfectionist and in the end I couldn’t find THE perfect reading. Let me share with you some examples of what I found and why I wasn’t quite sure the selections were just right.

The majority of Thanksgiving poetry or readings tend to be bittersweet, as the author reflects on a time when he or she was maybe not so thankful, and regrets it, and learned from it.

We would have roast goose for Thanksgiving dinner! “Roast goose and dressing seasoned with sage,” said sister Mary. “No, not sage! I don’t like sage and we won’t have it in the dressing,” I exclaimed. Then we quarreled, sister Mary and I, she insisting that there should be sage in the dressing and I declaring there should not be sage in the dressing, until father returned…without the goose! …and to this day when I think of it I feel again just as I felt then and realize how thankful I would have been for roast goose and dressing with sage seasoning…


~Laura Ingalls Wilder, Nov 1916

Or sometimes the reading is about the suffering and near starvation of the American pilgrims.

“Five kernels of corn! Five kernels of corn!

Ye people, be glad for five kernels of corn!”

So Bradford cried out on bleak Burial Hill

And the thin women stood in their doors, white and still.


~Hezekiah Butterfield, ca. 1890s

These types of readings are important, but I was not totally comfortable with the idea of reading these before a big celebration and then making people feel sad and tearful.

And then there are readings that focus primarily on food, and that didn’t seem exactly right either.

Tommybob has decided a greedy young sinner

Has to pay a big price for a Thanksgiving dinner

And that eating to live will make much finer living

Than living to eat, as he did on Thanksgiving.


~ Anna M. Pratt, from Tommybob’s Thanksgiving Vision, 1898

My favorite grace is the Johnny Appleseed song, but contrary to popular opinion, that is not a traditional folk song, nor poem by John Chapman, and is in fact copyrighted by Disney as it was written by their staff songwriters Kim Gannon and Walter Kent. I reprint it for you here, anyway…

The Lord is good to me
And so I thank the Lord
For giving me the things I need
The sun and rain and an apple seed
Yes, He’s been good to me


I owe the Lord so much
For everything I see
I’m certain if it weren’t for Him
There’d be no apples on this limb
He’s been good to me


Oh, here am I ‘neath the blue, blue sky
A-doin’ as I please
Singin’ with my feathered friends
Hummin’ with the bees


I wake up every day
As happy as can be
Because I know that with His care
My apple trees, they will still be there
Oh, the Lord is good to me


~ Kim Gannon and Walter Kent for Disney’s Melody Time, 1948

The rebel in me also enjoys non-traditional writings that do not use the words “thankful”, “gratitude”, or any reference to food. I have always been particular to this quote attributed to Beethoven, especially the line Happy everyone in the woods, before I realized that he didn’t really speak English and therefore this writing must actually be a translation:

Almighty One, in the woods I am blessed. Happy everyone in the woods. Every tree speaks through thee. O God! What glory in the woodland! On the heights is peace– peace to serve Him.


~Ludwig van Beethoven, ca 1812, as he wrote on a piece of music paper

And so I leave you with a simple verse that I hope does the trick if you find yourself otherwise at a loss for words:

With food on our table and friends at our door, we know we have much to be thankful for.

(Image credit: John Hain)

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