Some people have lovely Thanksgivings with perfectly trimmed turkeys, eaten in reasonable portions, and lit expertly for a picturesque Instagram.
This prayer is for everyone else.
It’s a chore to dine with these people.
Every time I go home, I’m reminded of the people who aren’t there: the cousin spending his third consecutive holiday in rehab, the aunt who sat here last year in full health but who died suddenly around Easter, the sibling who refuses to talk to me after our political squabble at Fourth of July.
I know you dined with someone who would betray you and someone who would deny you. Does that mean I have to, too?
Holidays are more work than they’re worth.
I have to travel so far this weekend and I only have one day off. I have to put on my happy face to grin-and-bear the awkward conversations I’d rather avoid. I have to get some shopping done or I’ll spend all December worrying about catching up.
You dined with your apostles on a Thursday night, but you also washed their feet. Before we can be transformed by a meal of Thanksgiving, we must care for our bodies and our souls.
Whose feet are you calling me to wash this week? Maybe my own?
This holiday reminds me of so much wrong with our world.
I feel so awkward going into the supermarket on Thursday and seeing a mother working so I can make that last minute purchase. I feel so guilty ordering popcorn at the movie theater from a kid who left dinner early so I could watch Frozen II. I feel ashamed passing by the person experiencing homelessness whose Thanksgiving meal is not turkey but merely scraps of deep-dish pizza left by Chicago tourists.
I know you looked with love on the excluded. Who are you calling me to look on with love this weekend?
God of Thanksgiving,
As the country gathers for a secular feast, I’m racked with worry, doubts, and pains. I’d rather ignore them. Please help me to give them to you.
Help my heart to open for your forgiveness, help my hands to wash another’s feet, and help my eyes to notice the excluded of the world.
Like the disciples at Emmaus, may you appear among us as we gather and break bread.