Saying Grace

The big holidays are fast approaching, especially here in the U.S. Thanksgiving is less than a week away, then Christmas. For many, it's a time for family and friends to get together and eat way too much delicious food.

As a Pastafarian, I celebrate Holiday which is the whole holiday season and requires nothing formal. But my husband and I also do the traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners with his family.  

Since everyone knows I'm a happy godless heathen, no one ever asks me to say a prayer before our meal. But I also get together with my fellow heathens for dinner near these two holidays, and so I thought it might be nice to have something to say.

I looked up some definitions and found that prayer and invocations are both fairly religious terms, namely to beg to a god. 

But this morning I thought, oh, what about grace? What does grace actually mean? There are many definitions but here is one I particularly like:

Grace: favor or goodwill. Synonyms: kindness, kindliness, love, benignity (what an awkward word that is!)

On that same page I found the following Word Story:
¡Gracias! Grazie! When a Spanish or Italian speaker says thanks, they are invoking one of the meanings behind the word grace. That’s because grace, gracias, and grazie all descend from the same Latin word, gratia. For the ancient Romans, gratia had three distinct meanings: (1) a pleasing quality, (2) favor or goodwill, and (3) gratitude or thanks. We find all three of these meanings in modern-day English. The first when we describe someone as having (or not having) grace: “Dancing, she had all the grace of an elephant on skates.” The second when we talk about giving or getting grace: “by the grace of God.” And the third when we say grace (i.e., “thanks”) at a meal. So if you have something to be grateful for, you can say thank-you, gratia, gracias, or grazie.
While I can skip the god bit, I like the idea of being thankful. None of us is an island, so it's good to reflect on our interconnectedness and interdependence with our fellow humans, and all other life.

Around this time of year, I usually think of all the things I'm grateful for, and to whom I owe thanks.

It's good (and human) to have traditions with those you care about, it's good to be mindful of events and markers in your lives, to honor those who deserve it when appropriate.

Here are some things you can say if you are asked to say grace at a meal:

Here is a Humanist version:

For what we are about to receive
let us be truly thankful
…to those who planted the crops
…to those who cultivated the fields
…to those who gathered the harvest.

For what we are about to receive
let us be truly thankful
to those who prepared it and those who served it.

In this festivity let us remember too
those who have no festivity
those who cannot share this plenty
those whose lives are more affected than our own
by war, oppression and exploitation
those who are hungry, sick and cold

In sharing in this meal
let us be truly thankful
for the good things we have
for the warm hospitality
and for this good company.

A Buddhist version:

We receive this food in gratitude to all beings
Who have helped to bring it to our table,
And vow to respond in turn to those in need
With wisdom and compassion.

Here is a Native American version:

We give thanks for the plants and animals who have given themselves so that we can enjoy this meal together.
We also give thanks for our friends and family who have traveled here today.
May this meal bring us strength and health.

A short version:

We are thankful for the food on this table.
We are thankful for this time together.
Our thoughts go out to family and friends;
We hope that they are safe and well.

A short Humanist version:

For the meal we are about to eat,
for those that made it possible,
and for those with whom we are about to share it,
we are thankful.

And while we're at it, here are two nice versions of the Serenity Prayer that are proactive:

Through my efforts,
I gain the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.

and a second version:

I strive for
the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.

To live one day at a time;
Enjoy one moment at a time;
Accept the hardships as natural balance;
Taking this beautiful world as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting in the balance;
That I may be able to see myself as happy in this life.

So Happy Holidays (the Pastafarian greeting)! No matter how you celebrate, and even if you choose not to, enjoy the company of others, eat delicious food, and be thankful to all those people and living things that helped your life in some way.


Other resources:


  1. Oooo! There are some great ones there! I usually don't get asked to say "grace," either, but it's always a good idea to have something up my sleeve just in case!

  2. Glad you find it helpful, Dan. :)