Saturday, January 3, 2015

“Thankless” Holidays

When I was a kid, we sometimes gathered around the table for breakfast or dinner, depending on whether Mom was there to fix it. If not, Dad and I would fix out own, but still usually sit down and eat together before going back to our farm or sawmill work. At supper, though, we nearly always gathered around the table. Saying grace, however, was usually reserved for Sundays or holidays, when we were especially thankful for not just the food, but also for the family members who often joined us, as well.

My wife grew up in a home where saying grace at the table was looked upon in the same light as the Pharisee praying on the street corner. Of course, my father-in-law also never got baptized because he felt he wasn’t “worthy.” I suspect that he believed that no-one else was worthy enough, either, but I don’t know that. He believed that way, despite reading his Bible daily. I won’t say anything to my wife about it, but I have to wonder about the salvation of someone who waits until he’s worthy enough to obey the Lord’s command to be baptized. (NO, I DON’T believe it’s a requirement for salvation, but why would anyone deliberately disobey such an obvious command?)

The last couple times that we had a holiday meal at our house, looking at our tiny kitchen and our strung-out seating arrangements, my wife just called out “Okay—form a line,” meaning for everyone to file through the kitchen buffet-style. Grace was apparently forgotten.

The last couple holidays, my wife and I went to “the kids’.” I was wondering if my stepson would ask the blessing, but with THEIR tiny kitchen and limited seating, it was a repeat of the last two family meals at our own home. I was disappointed. It’s not that I mean that you can’t be thankful without saying grace; it’s just that any reminder to be thankful to God is a good thing, especially when there are children present (and there were a few, none of whom are saved). Had I been in my own house, I would have spoken up this time, but I wouldn’t do that in someone else’s home.

When we got home, I mentioned to my wife that I would have like to have seen grace said, especially considering all the kids there. Apparently taking it as an insult to her son, she angrily reminded me that her father didn’t believe in such things, and she didn’t think it was necessary. I replied that while it wasn’t necessary, it would still have been nice. She told me that we weren’t Jesus, so we couldn’t bless the food anyway. I could have reminded her that we DON’T bless the food, but rather, ask the Lord to do so. However, I learned long ago not to push ANY issue with her, unless it’s a matter of life and death. It was just one more example of how, ultimately, tradition usually wins over common sense.

My wife finds it straining to cook for a crowd anymore, so there may not be any more holiday meals in our home. We would have eaten Chinese this year had we not gotten the invite to the kids’ house. Naturally, saying grace in a restaurant is merely flaunting your religion in my wife’s eyes (remember who raised her). I guess that means thankless holidays from now on, and while some folks would consider it just a case of me hanging onto my own tradition, I like to think that there’s a little more to it than that. In fact, I know there is. © 2014


Mamahen said...

I have had many years of "thankless holidays" in both my first and second marriages... I am happy to say that is no longer the case...Praying for unity in peace in your life!

Gorges Smythe said...

Glad things are better for you now, Mh. Things aren't BAD for me; I just wish they were a little better.

Chickenmom said...

A moment of silence by you at your own dinner table will sink in by your good wife. I remember when Hubby and I stopped of for a quick burger, a young man and his two children sitting at the next table said grace before eating their meals. When we left I went over and told him how nice it was to see a family say grace. He just smiled and said 'thank you' His children just beamed!

Kathy Felsted Usher said...

I will admit that we don't say Grace every night as we don't have normal sit down dinners for the two of us, especially if we have leftovers for a couple of days and we eat when we want. That being said, when we have a family dinner we always say Grace and have the youngest start it. If we were in a relative's home and wanted to say Grace, I would probably just speak up as we were lining up and ask if it was OK if I said a few words of thanks. We have had people at work lunches do the same and we always pause a moment as they say their blessing, regardless of what religion the rest of us are or if they practice any religion at all. It's hard to argue against giving thanks.

Gorges Smythe said...

Perhaps you're right, Cm.

Few folks really mind, Kathy, it's just that so few people bother anymore that concerns me.