Thanksgiving is a holiday where, historically, friends and family gathered to celebrate — and be thankful for — the harvest’s bounty. Over the years, the holiday has lost many of its religious roots, but the spirit of thankfulness has remained.
Thinking about the Thanksgiving’s religious roots, we think about the traditional grace said before many a meal, less often so today than in decades past. But there are also other ways of sharing a moment with your Thanksgiving guests before eating your turkey next week, and, no, it’s not just admiring the spread of food you’re about to eat.
We’ve put together some jokes and graces, activities and poems — thoughts both serious and funny — for you this Thanksgiving. Maybe share a couple, or be inspired and find your own. Or, if you have a tradition your friends or family take part in, share it with us by commenting below.
"On Thanksgiving Day, all over America, families sit down to dinner at the same moment - halftime."
May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
Have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious
And your pies take the prize,
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off your thighs!
"A Funny Ode to Thanksgiving," By Unknown
Turkey boiled is turkey spoiled;
And turkey roast is turkey lost.
But for turkey braised,
The Lord be praised.
By Anonymous, from Sarah McElwain's "Saying Grace."
1. When your guests first arrive, ask them to each write down something they’re thankful for on a slip of paper and collect them in a basket. Some will take this seriously, and others, we know from experience, have lots of fun with this—choose whether you want the tone to be serious or playful and let your guests know. Then, once you’re at the table, read out each slip to your table for some pre-meal entertainment.
2. One of the best parts—for kids—of Thanksgiving is being able to play with the dried turkey wishbone once everything has been carved. If you don’t already have saved dried wishbones from roast turkeys and chickens over the year, get some of the plastic ones available online. Have each guest pair with the person to their right (if you have an odd number of people, the lucky odd-man-out gets a bye) and try their luck. The winner—lucky them—moves on to the next round, and so forth until a grand winner is named. Have a little fun with the winner (everyone wants to be the lucky one) and make him or her wear a funny turkey hat for the remainder of the meal.
3. If you’re having friends over for Thanksgiving (maybe it’s a potluck, maybe it’s not), have everyone bring a favorite Thanksgiving-themed recipe for a food or drink—and have them write why they chose it. Put all the recipes into a bag and then, once you’re seated at the table, have each guest draw one out and announce the recipe and read why the person chose it. The group will have to guess whose recipe it is. A fun way to swap recipes, too.
4. Host a big Thanksgiving charades game. Come up with as many Thanksgiving-themed characters, activities, things that can be acted out (your friends or kids can help come up with some ideas, too). Put all the ideas into a hat, and starting with the beginning of the meal, have each guest act out their character and have the rest of the guests guess what they are. This can take place throughout the meal… Prizes optional for the best actor or actress.
(All join hands around the table)
"This is a day for thanks
a day in which we
see or hear or feel
the wonders of the other
moments of the year.
This is a day for time
a day in which we
think of pasts that make
our present rich
and future bountiful... "
An excerpt from "Thanksgiving Grace" by Daniel Roselle from June Cotner's "Graces."
"How would it be,
If just for today,
We thought less about contests and rivalries,
Profits and politics,
Winners and sinners,
And more about
Helping and giving,
Mending and blending,
And pitching in?
How would it be... "
An excerpt of a poem by Anonymous, in Sarah McElwain's "Saying Grace."
I see or I hear
that more or less
that leaves me
like a needle
in the haystack
It is what I was born for -
to look, to listen... "
An excerpt from Mary Oliver's "Mindful."