I Prayed have prayed
Father God, we pray that You would help us to set our tables with love this Thanksgiving. Let all feel welcome, and let Your love and grace reach all through us.

Everyone carries their own baggage to the table on Thanksgiving. It’s our job to make sure that they all experience the love and grace of Christ, regardless of whatever personal issues they may have.

From The Christian Post. Thanksgiving is the annual opportunity to gather with family and friends. Food. Football. Fun. But before the day comes, may I suggest a pause to ponder those who are coming? Everyone brings something in their heart and mind to the dinner table.

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I remember the feeling.

As a teen, I was anorexic. Thanksgiving meant people staring at my plate — or so I thought. It meant wondering what, if anything, I could eat. My mind wasn’t healthy, and neither was my body. Yet, there I was sitting at the table.

Then, there was my dad, an alcoholic. Meals meant extra drinks were served. Sobriety wasn’t invited.

My sister dealt with obesity, and Thanksgiving brought even more food choices that weren’t healthy.

Mom was a culinary perfectionist. She resented having less money than she needed to serve a meal worthy of a magazine photo.

Because of my folk’s eventual divorce, Thanksgiving became divided too. It meant battling over who got the prime time for the big meal, and who got stuck with the alternate time. Bitterness was invited to the table.

Blended families meant extra plates at the table, but sometimes there wasn’t room in the hearts gathered around to allow them in. Who was valued more? Jealousy.

Arguments over politics could have been avoided, but seldom were. Anger simmered because others didn’t toe the party line.

Religion wasn’t invited either — there was a total disregard for how God works in our lives and in our world. But faith made a token appearance when I was asked to say “grace” before we could eat. My childhood prayer was short, but largely ignored.

So, that’s my Thanksgiving story — a bit of a mess — but aren’t we all just a bit of a mess? What I’ve learned from many Thanksgiving celebrations, is to open the door to my heart well ahead of setting the table for dinner.

For the one who is trying to stay sober — I will not be your temptation. When anyone is mentally struggling, I’ll make space at the table and let my smile welcome you. If you want to be quiet and observe, I won’t force conversation. To the couple that are sharing a home but not a marriage certificate, I welcome you and hope to shine a light on the beauty of marriage.

I will have a variety of low-calorie foods that appeal to those watching their diets.

Here are some other suggestions:

For the blended families and all the challenges that come with where everyone goes and when, be flexible. Realize that when dinner is served and what is served, is never as important as loving those who come. And loving those who can’t come — no condemnation for not being able to show up.

For multi-generational gatherings, I suggest allowing an elder to share a story from their past. Someone should record it. All my elders are now gone, and this was a tradition I wish would have happened. One day it will matter more than it does now.

Thanksgiving is a special opportunity to share our faith in ways that are demonstrated by the faces gathered around a table, the bounty of food that has been provided, and the welcoming love that everyone can feel. I make name cards for the table with Bible verses that have thankfulness in them. It’s a reminder of the One in Whom all blessings flow.

Before the meal begins, I still say grace, only now it’s my senior citizen version, where I begin by thanking God and then speaking everyone’s name with a special attribute that blesses them and others. It doesn’t take long, but it’s a way to set the tone for a peaceful meal and a memorable Thanksgiving.

What did you think of this article? Share it with your friends and family to encourage them to “set the table with love.”

(Used with permission. By Karen Farris from The Christian Post. Photo Credit: Karolina Grabowska/Pexels)

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Lorraine Boyd
November 24, 2023

At the same time, I was pleased and dismayed by my contribution (or lack of it), to this year’s Thanksgiving meal (at my son-in-law’s cousin’s home, with my sister & brother-in-law invited). I brought 3″ by 5″ cards, with “I thank the Lord for…” written on them, enough for everyone I thought would be there. I asked the hostess if I could share them & she said, “Yes”. But I didn’t have enough guts to just pass them out & ask for everyone to read them, sometime during the meal. When we had food on our plates, my 8 year old granddaughter, signaled the gesture for praying, but no adult followed through. My sister thought of the camp prayer, Rub a dub dub, thanks for the grub, Yeah, God! God willing, I will be more assertive, next year. (I am 80 years old).

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Carol
November 24, 2023

I loved this article! Thank you for honestly sharing at the beginning how “disordered eating thoughts” show up at a Thanksgiving table. This is a subject that is not understood enough in the Christian community!

Happy Thanksgiving Season. We have so very much to thank God for! !

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Linda Fisher
November 23, 2023

I am reading this as I have just returned from our Thanksgiving meal at my daughter’s with 8 of our grandchildren and a new boyfriend. One grandson lives in Canada and takes offense at anything any of us say about most anything. One grandson-in-law is an ER nuse and worked today. One grandson, a fine young husband and father, had to stay home because his autism is on overload and he knew he couldn’t handle the crowd. One grandson deals with depression but thanked God for his parents letting him live with them for awhile. Our adopted daughter, a single mom of a 4 yr old, as usual arrived with everything being about her. Even after us ageeing to baby-and-dog-sitting tomorrow, she was rude and didn’t tell us goodbye. Sometimes you just can’t make everyone feel welcome, no matter what you do. And some of us need to take responsibility and come without our fists up, ready to take offense. I’ve prayed for days about this time together.. Now I’m exhausted.

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    Susan
    November 24, 2023

    Thank you for your honesty, Linda. I’m sad for you.

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Lori Meed
November 23, 2023

Loved this simple reminder to be Christlike. Make space for Him. Invite Him to the table!

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Linda Francese
November 23, 2023

I absolutely loved this article. None of us has a perfect family and there are difficulties happening in mine. Loved some of her suggestions and will try to implement them this year. Praying blessing on your Thanksgiving Day!

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Joanne DeBord
November 23, 2023

God, I thank you for this article. I can SO relate, as no doubt so many of us can. Help me to have your heart for those at my table today. Shine your light and your love through me. Thank you Jesus.

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Mari Williams
November 23, 2023

I am still weeping after reading this article. Oh, my goodness, she experienced such pain! So thankful that she came to know The Lord Jesus and grateful for her sharing how she prays for each person around the table. Oh, the overcoming power of GOD in her life is amazing and gives me hope for the beloved member of my family who is anorexic.

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Judy
November 22, 2023

Thanks so much for your comments. This is the first year my very small family is having separate dinners because of a break in family relationships. My prayer is for reconciliation before Christmas. In Christ I pray.

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    Mari Williams
    November 23, 2023

    May GOD fill all the empty places around your table and bring healing to your family relationships as soon as possible. May you know His nearness in a very special way this year, and may HE cause those missing family members to re-think their decision to be separate. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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    Anna R Dault
    November 23, 2023

    Continued faith that Christ will restore your family circle ⭕️; It took awhile after my divorce of 33 years but God’s faithful when we continue to trust, hold onto His promises 🕊🙏

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Hj
November 22, 2023

Karen, thank you for what I think is the most honest article I’ve ever read here. As I say that I also mean that I appreciate this format and the leadership here is much as I ever have.
For some of us, in spite of our Christianity-,and sobriety-,the wounds of our past inflicted upon us, especially as a very young child, that may never really be completely resolved-,have caused a trail of wreckage that equates to isolated Thanksgivings.
There were years when Thanksgiving dinner with people in 12 step groups meant sitting at tables of strangers that was very awkward-,and uncomfortable..and often very silent. I talked about Jesus as much as I could during those years-(at other times in those groups) but as we know the burden of carrying the message of Jesus is not always met with joy.
It rarely was-, no matter how careful I tried to be about it. Those years were interspersed by occasionally every three or four years being with blood relatives at thanksgiving, but as you described so well.. more uncomfortable than anything. I prayed for years that the Lord would deliver me from the 12 steps- and the idols it represented.. it was only ruining my Christianity. The Lord used the covid years to do that.. and I’m very thankful.. I hope I live long enough to experience the joy that you describe.
These days I concentrate on improving my prayer life and use the prayer guides afforded here almost exclusively. I’ve had some very unusual dreams lately,and as the scripture says-,”your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. but I don’t think my dreams are prophetic-, I think they’re meant to course correct my course- possibly.. not certain about that either.
I’m not sure what they mean. The thing is I can only remember one or two dreams every 5 to 7 years and the rest just seem to dissolve. The ones I can remember I do not need to write down, as I can remember them..and then the rest I do not remember at all..so they cannot be written down

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Darlene Estlow
November 22, 2023

What a beautiful article. May Thanksgiving bless families and bring healing and love where it is needed.

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Mary Beth
November 22, 2023

Great reminder, and nice suggestions, Karen. Blessed Thanksgiving!

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Ron Glenn Deere
November 22, 2023

Believe it or not, people need love. Therefore, let’s give it.

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Taz69
November 22, 2023

Very inspirational and true to the core. I am sure all of us have experienced both types of gatherings during our lifetimes.

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Gwendolyn Sieler
November 22, 2023

So good – thanks for sharing that!

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Lauten Sylvia
November 22, 2023

Loved it and will definitely use it this Thanksgiving. Thank you so much for your posting.

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Mary D
November 22, 2023

The Harvest is ripe! Come to the Harvest Table with Joy, Laughter, and cover it with Grace and Love! And some gravy too!

We are so Grateful for Gods’s Goodness! Happy Thanksgiving!

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Nancy from GA
November 22, 2023

Karen, I found your article very encouraging. Like you said, so many come to the table with baggage, and they need love and encouragement. Thank you for your ideas and suggestions about how to show love to those around our tables this year.

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Jessica
November 22, 2023

Thank you for this article it is a blessing!! And needed for this mom. God bless you and your family!

Jessica G.

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Blanca
November 22, 2023

When our children were small and upon the time they were teenagers we would all get together to make a thanks giving feast: but as they got older one year I prepared for them starting the night before everyone’s favorite part of the meal. They said some friends would be coming over. Well the friends came and ate like models on a celery diet: then one of our kids said that a friend called with an invitation to their houses,so of course our child said I have leave room for the food at the friend’s party. That day we had a thanksgiving meeting: I said : from now on this turkey will cook no more on .

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Bob Huseby
November 22, 2023

Thanks so much for your reminder Karen. We have certainly all been to that table.
Father starting this moment we put the importance of your presence before the many details that we must deal with in preparation. Holy Spirit begin now your conviction upon each heart that you are trying to influence. We bind the many many negative influences upon each person’s heart. And we loudly Declare that each and every soul at our table will feel the love of You Jesus!!! Hallelujah

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