Saying Grace

From the my earliest memory, we have said grace at the table before our family dinners. It’s a simple blessing, our Catholic grace. I think growing up we kids didn’t think much about it, just that it was one of those things we had to do before we could eat. But ritual has a way of embedding ideas into one’s consciousness over time, and now when I say grace, either with my family, with friends, or even alone, I am reminded of how lucky I am, we are, to be alive, thinking and breathing, and how blessed we are to have this food before us.

Bless us O Lord, and these Thy gifts, for which we are about to receive, from Thy bounty, through Christ, our Lord, Amen.

That’s our grace. Simple isn’t it? Yet whenever I hear it or say it, it means so much more. I feel my family, alive or long passed, with me at the table or in a city far away. For this one simple prayer ties us together through time and distance.

I’m curious to learn of other traditions for saying a mealtime blessing. It wasn’t until I left home for college that I discovered that depending on one’s background, people say different prayers at mealtime, and some (maybe most?) none at all. A meal blessing doesn’t have to be tied to a religion. People in Japan say an expression of gratitude before every meal. Itadakimasu, which means “I humbly accept” is said, head bowed, before every meal, not just dinner.

My friends Suzanne and David, and their children Clara, Danny, and Audrey, hold hands and either say “Blessings on the meal” or they sing “Evening is here, the board is spread, thanks be to God, who gives us bread.” I get the feeling that the kids are sometimes embarrassed to sing their blessing, especially with guests, but personally I love it.

Do you have a tradition of saying a blessing before a meal? If so, would you please share it with us? Do you hold hands (we don’t)? Does one person lead grace, or do people take turns? Do you recite a standard blessing, or do you improvise?

Today, as I write this, it is Thanksgiving, our one day of the year dedicated to appreciation for all we have. Thank you for reading this site, for trying out the recipes we post, for all of your feedback and suggestions. You are the reason I do this. Happy Thanksgiving! ~Elise

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Showing 4 of 98 Comments

  • Debs

    Happy Thanksgiving, Elise! Thanks for all the wonderful recipes! :)

  • Helen

    I was a girl guide (british girl scout!) and we always used to have grace before every meal on guide camp. On brownie camp (junior girl guide) the activity on the first evening was always to make a placemat with all our graces written on so we could all join in. The one that stuck in my head the most was the song “Johnny Appleseed”

    The Lord is good to me
    And so I thank the Lord
    For giving me the things I need
    For the sun and the rain and the appleseed
    The Lord is Good to me

    Funniest Grace I ever heard was when a friend came out with “Bless us as we eat this food and each other, Amen”

  • Gayatri.Gurjar

    Hi Elise,

    I regularly go through your site ‘Simply Recipes’. It is very well presented.

    I am posting this message as response to your post on Grace. I hail from the state of Maharashtra in India. We also say a couple of prayers before we begin all our meals. They are usually recited together but without holding hands. In some families these prayers are even said in the mind by each member seperately.
    The gist of all prayers is expressing gratitude to the Almighty of course. You must be aware of the Indian philosophy of ‘Brahman’. We regard food as the manifestation of the Brahman principle that transcends all the universe. It is a verse in my mother tongue- Marathi.The literal wording says, “As you eat each morsel of your food chant the name of the Almighty. You shall receive nourishment by doing this simple exercise. Food is the wholesome Brahman that gives life to all. The act of eating is not just to fill ones stomach but is a divine ritual.”

  • Oh Lighten Up

    There’s the ever-popular Bart Simpson version of grace — offered, I assure you, with no disrespect intended:

    Dear God,
    We payed for all this stuff ourselves, so thanks for nothing. Amen.

    While we’re appreciating the fortune of sharing a good meal with friends and family, the joy of a meal prepared with love, it is important to remember that God is not vengeful, that (hopefully) He has a sense of humor, that He wants us all to be happy and prosper.

    Very happy Thanksgiving!

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