For some people, saying grace or giving thanks at meal time is a given because of religious adherence or simply because acknowledging the meal and effort involved feels right.
For those of us who do not have such habits or have let them lapse, incorporating an “attitude of gratitude” for the abundance of food we have available to nourish and sustain us, is a great practice to start.
Below are a few reasons we can offer our children of the importance of giving thanks and can be adapted to suit your child's level of understanding:
- We live in a time when, for most, food is in abundance, but that isn’t and hasn’t always been the case and still to this day scores of people go hungry.
- To prepare a meal takes effort and deserves to be acknowledged.
- The food procured, at the supermarket or farm stand, requires money for which someone had to work to earn it.
- If the food was grown by your family, it is nice to acknowledge the part you played in getting it to the table.
- The farmers, workers from the fields to the factories that had a hand in the production process can also be acknowledged.
This isn’t to say, we go out and thank them each in person or that they can actually hear us, but the energy we send out when we give thanks is positive and overall creates an environment of gratitude. Studies show the benefits include: stress reduction, immunity boost and the ability to not only take better care of yourself but better deal with unexpected events.
To bring gratitude to the table with my children, I typed up several mealtime prayers that I was familiar with, asked around for more and also scoured the internet. I then printed them out, trimmed them and “laminated” them with self-laminating sheets- so smudges could easily be cleanedThen I put them in a decorative basket on our table and each night at dinner we take turns “drawing” an offering of thanks and reading it aloud. We also hold hands. Various stuffed animals are also sometimes invited to the table to join paws and hands.
My children enjoy the surprise of a new prayer and over time have made up some of their own. Aside from eating together at the table, giving thanks at dinner has connected us to each other, our sources of sustenance and the greater world.
Please add any prayers, blessings or offerings in the comments box that you or your family enjoys!
In gratitude & Bon Appetit,