Do not say grace this Thanksgiving; serve it up in thought, word and deed. Saying grace is a blessed thing to do -- offering grace via action brings blessings to the table. Serving up grace is no easy task in the midst of a Thanksgiving hullabaloo. Conversations overflow, egos run rampant, children scamper about, and the kitchen broils with pressure. The gathering of family and friends can be a joyous, harried, and nerve abrading occasion despite our loving intentions. Grace, like gravy, is required in ample portions to season the holiday. Grace has many definitions including: elegance, favor, and mercy. Generously pour each of these varietals to deepen your experience and create an atmosphere of love.
Arrive at your Thanksgiving gathering committed to elegance. Gracefulness, in its elegant aspect, is deeper than the hairstyle or clothes you wear. It is the way you behave, speak with others, and wander about the room. "Elegance is the only beauty that never fades," said Audrey Hepburn. Elegance is desired and appreciated. Be poised by moving smoothly through the crowd, minding your manners, sharing the sofa, and saying please and thank you. Offer to help or to stay out of the way as needed while making eye contact and offering a warm smile. Grace others with your elegance.
Plead humbly for God's favor when saying grace over the meal, but generously offer your own graceful favor to family and friends come to gather at the table. This is not a natural thing for most of us to do. By nature, we tend to seek to have our needs met. Some of us seek peace and quiet from the constant activity by hiding in front of the TV or outside on the porch. Be graceful to those you are with, give of your presence. Thanksgiving is but once a year. Some of us seek an audience and strive to tell our jokes, stories, or woes to anyone with an ear. Remember to favor others with listening more than you are sharing. Show your generosity by playing with the children: entertain, tickle, or simply be with them. Offer to jump into the work by making the salad, busing the plates, or scraping the dishes. Take out the burgeoning trash. Demonstrate your grace to the host in a tangible way. If you are going to someone else's home, (including your mother's!) bring something. You could offer flowers, candles, music, games, puzzles, nuts, candies, or cheeses which are easily used or stored for another day if they do not fit into the host's Thanksgiving plans. Grace others with your favor.
Show mercy. This is especially important if Thanksgiving is traditionally a stressful event. Forbear the political argument brewing at the end of the table. Thanksgiving can become an all out family vs. family debate or, worse, provoke an emotional cut off over issues that are blown out of proportion and become a personal attack. Do not say the first thing that comes to your mind, say that which is kind. Every family has an annoying relative who feels free to express their thoughts, feelings, needs, or criticisms. Offer up grace with mercy and restraint by ignoring, minimizing, or simply not engaging in negativity for the sake of Thanksgiving. Do not forget the forgotten at your celebration. Be graceful to your aging grandmother, boring Uncle, depressed friend, overworked sister, or special needs family member by spending time with them. This grace may cost you in patience and self-discipline but will pay great dividends beyond the day. Grace others with your mercy.
Any of these forms, elegance, favor, or mercy, can be a saving grace. A saving grace is one little act that saves or redeems an event or person from ruination. You may be the light in the room with your calm and attractive demeanor. Your assist in the kitchen may be just the thing to get dinner served warm and on time. Your grace could avert a fight by ignoring or soothing that nasty comment. You could be the one that touches a lost or lonely heart with tender mercy. All or any one of these flavors of grace could save Thanksgiving. Grace is not only something to be asked for, it is something you can give. Don't say grace this year, serve it up!
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