“Let’s pause for a moment to give thanks”
With these words spoken as everyone sits down at the table, you present the opportunity to say Grace. If the individuals gathered around your dinner table this holiday season are from diverse religions or beliefs, you can still say a few words of thanksgiving to mark the occasion without making guests feel awkward. Perhaps it can be a chance for sharing more than one grace or blessing of the meal.
Here are a few Christian examples, including nice ones for a child to recite:
Bless us O Lord, for these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly thankful. Amen.
Bless us O Lord, for these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty, through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
God is great, God is good. Let us thank him for our food.
By his hand, we are fed; Give us, Lord, our daily bread. Amen.
Thank you God for happy hearts, for rain and sunny weather.
Thank you God for this food and that we are together. Amen.
Thank you for the world so sweet. Thank you for the things we eat.
Thank you for the birds that sing. Thank you, God, for everything.
Non-religious people may still want to give thanks before a special meal. Anyone can say more than just Bon Appétit! Expressing appreciation of the company and gratitude for the food is all that is needed. Or this may be an opportunity to go around the table and have each person say what they are grateful for.
The Quaker tradition of “silent grace” before a meal works well for a dinner party with people of diverse beliefs. All present join hands in a circle around the table, and are silent for half a minute or so as they collect their thoughts, pray or meditate. Then the host or hostess gently squeezes the hands of the people seated closest. This signal is quickly passed around the table and everyone begins to eat and talk.
Here is a lovely Buddhist Meal Gatha that is secular:
We receive this food in gratitude to all beings
Who have helped to bring it to our table,
And vow to respond in turn to those in need
With wisdom and compassion.
A Native American thanks giving: We give thanks for the plants and animals who have given themselves so that we can enjoy this meal together. We also give thanks for our family and friends who have traveled here today. May this meal bring us strength and health.
Lastly, here’s a short and simple humanist benediction: For the meal we are about to eat, for those who made it possible, and for those with whom we are about to share it, we are thankful.
Saying a few words to express and encourage gratitude is a delightful way to begin any meal. I hope these examples help you to find one, or a combination of any, that will work well with your gathering.