When I was growing up, Thanksgiving dinner didn’t officially begin until my mother had read some prayer of thanksgiving, whether from the pages of a siddur or clipped from the newspaper earlier in the week.
Sadly, that tradition has fallen by the wayside in recent years. Tomorrow, I intend to resurrect it, although it is somewhat likely that my plan will meet with objections. Should I give in to them and not read the piece I’ve selected, I’m sharing it here in the hopes that it might get a well deserved reading at someone else’s holiday table.
I’ve chosen the now somewhat famous 1936 Thanksgiving proclamation of Connecticut Governor Wilbur L. Cross, who was a Shakespearean scholar and an esteemed professor of English at Yale. His eloquence catches the ear and, seven decades after he penned it, his message remains timeless:
Time out of mind at this turn of the seasons when the hardy oak leaves rustle in the wind and the frost gives a tang to the air and the dusk falls early and the friendly evenings lengthen under the heel of Orion, it has seemed good to our people to join together in praising the Creator and Preserver, who has brought us by a way that we did not know to the end of another year. In observance of this custom, I appoint Thursday, the twenty-sixth of November, as a day of Public Thanksgiving for the blessings that have been our common lot and have placed our beloved State with the favored regions of earth -- for all the creature comforts: the yield of the soil that has fed us and the richer yield from labor of every kind that has sustained our lives -- and for all those things, as dear as breath to the body, that quicken man's faith in his manhood, that nourish and strengthen his spirit to do the great work still before him: for the brotherly word and act; for honor held above price; for steadfast courage and zeal in the long, long search after truth; for liberty and for justice freely granted by each to his fellow and so as freely enjoyed; and for the crowning glory and mercy of peace upon our land; -- that we may humbly take heart of these blessings as we gather once again with solemn and festive rites to keep our Harvest Home.
May each of us appreciate the blessings that are ours, savor the company of family and friends, and not overdo it with the mashed potatoes.