A tray of pumpkin challah rolls, rising.
I try to begin and end every day with gratitude: for whatever the day may hold, and then has held. Modah ani l'fanecha: I am grateful before You, living and enduring God. That's the most basic daily prayer I know.
As a fan of ritual I enjoy the many rituals of Thanksgiving in our house, starting with spending Thanksgiving Eve peeling potatoes and baking challah rolls. But beyond that, and beyond the pleasure of setting a pretty table and filling it with family and friends, I love also that we take a day off from our ordinary lives just to focus on being thankful.
And, yes, to eat (widely and well!) and schmooze, to drink wine by the fire, to watch football, eventually to simmer turkey carcasses into soup as the evening wanes. But even more than fine dining or hospitality, gratitude -- thankfulness -- is at Thanksgiving's heart.
I'm thankful for the food we're preparing, for the many hands which labored to bring it forth (and the hands laboring now to get it the final steps of the way from supermarket to table!) I'm thankful for the sunlight and the soil and the divine abundance that came together to produce every potato and butternut squash and brussels sprout.
I'm thankful for my family and friends, for our home, for our sustenance on every level of being. I'm thankful for my colleagues and teachers, in ALEPH and elsewhere. "For my teachers, and my students, and the students of my students," as we say in the kaddish d'rabanan -- and for the teachers of my teachers, too.
I'm thankful for all of you who read this blog; for those who comment often, and those who comment rarely, and those who comment never at all. I'm thankful for all of you who keep blogs of your own, some of which I read daily and some of which I read from time to time and all of which enrich our world.
Happy Thanksgiving, gang. May your tomorrow (and all the days that follow) be filled with abundance of all kinds.
If you're looking for a creative Thanksgiving prayer of gratitude, Reb Zalman has revised his short and sweet Thanksgiving prayer, which can be downloaded as a pdf from this post on his blog.