Messing up the blessing

Among my many fond memories of Thanksgivings past are my mother’s cornbread dressing, my aunt’s monkey bread, my cousins and I fighting over the wishbone, and the panicked look in my eyes if I was ever asked to say grace.

I didn’t grow up saying grace before meals. My husband’s family says grace before EVERY meal. Which is why, early in our relationship, when his parents took us out to lunch one day at McDonald’s, I was caught with a French fry hanging out of my mouth when my future father-in-law said, “Let’s bow our heads.”

Actually, in my husband’s family, they don’t “say grace.” They “ask the blessing.” Once, when my husband was a little boy, he and his family were visiting friends for dinner, and the host asked my husband, “Would you say grace?” My husband looked questioningly at his host and said, “Um … grace?”

Another time, after my husband had entered his snarky teenage years, he was at a church supper entertaining his friends by speaking in funny accents. All of the sudden, from across the room, his father hollered at him to please ask the blessing. My husband complied — but he forgot to drop the funny accent.

When my kids were little, saying grace usually went something like this:

My son: “God is good, God is great, let us thank him for this food.”

His older sister: “You said it wrong.”

My son: “No I didn’t.”

His older sister: “It’s supposed to be ‘God is great, God is good, let us thank him for this food.’ See, it’s supposed to rhyme at the end.”

My son: “God is good, God is great, let us thank him for this plate.”

In school, my kids were taught to sing “The Johnny Appleseed Song” before they marched out to lunch every day. You know it:

Ooooooooh, the Lord is good to me,

And so I thank the Lord

For giving me

The things I need

The sun and the rain and the apple seed.

The Lord is good to me.

It’s stuck in your head now, right?

Confession: I’ve never really liked this song. I can’t reach the high notes. And why Johnny Appleseed? Are the kindergartners eating nothing but apples for lunch?

Apparently the song was popularized by a 1948 Disney movie, which explains a lot.

I think all our lives would be easier if we just taught the 5-year-olds to say, “Grace.”

This puts me in mind of the dinner scene from “The Sound of Music,” when Maria dines with the Von Trapp family for the first time and sits on a pinecone that the recalcitrant children have left in her chair. She recovers nicely and offers up this lovely blessing:

“For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly thankful. Amen.”

Then she proceeds to make all the children cry.

If we’re going to be singing the blessing, I would suggest instead this passage from the Lyle Lovett song “Church.”

To the Lord, let praises be,

It’s time for dinner,

Now let’s go eat.

Lisa Davis is Features Editor of The Anniston Star. Contact her at 256-235-3555 or ldavis@annistonstar.com.

Features Editor Lisa Davis: 256-235-3555.