My specific Thanksgiving memories don’t get clear until I was a little older — like when I was at least ten years old. After that, they all blur together into uniform mobs of people, two huge tables full of food (one table for children, one for adults), lots of cookies, rum-balls, sand tarts and pies, plus one fruitcake that sat in the freezer for three years afterward. Oh, and the clean-up afterward, when all of my sisters and I, plus my aunts and my mother and whatever female guests we had that year, all mobbed the kitchen. Oh, and we always went to Mass. And the party lasted all night long.

Sadly, my clearest Thanksgiving memory was my last one while living at home, just before I shipped off to join the Air Force, where I spent Christmas in Basic Training. (Which made me realize — for my last Christmas and birthday while living at home, I didn’t even realize that they would be the last ones.)

Fast-forward 20+ years. Last year, after our Thanksgiving prayer, I told my daughter — who is wonderful about routines — that she is in charge of helping us remember to say grace before every meal. I don’t remember exactly how that prayer went, but it morphed into the one we use today. The prayer is rather simple, and goes like this:

“Dear Lord, thank you for this dinner, thank you for our home, thank you for our health, thank you for our love, and thank you for each other.”

The “thank you for our love” phrase was my daughter’s idea. One day during the spring, she was saying the prayer and she caught me watching her. She got all flustered and forgot about the “health” line.  So she ad-libbed the “love” line and it was just so sweet. It has been part of our prayer ever since.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!