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A PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING

Dear God,

We thank you for all you have given us and for all you have allowed us to give each other.

We thank you for the ways children enjoy things. They enjoy with a full heart and without worrying that what they're enjoying will be taken away. Help us to enjoy things the way children enjoy things for all our years.

We thank you for the way newlyweds smile at each other. When you really love someone, your face cooperates with your heart. Such people are often described as "lost in love," but the truth is that they are "found in love." Help us to smile at the ones we love exactly the way we smiled at them when we first knew we loved them.

We thank you for the courage of our soldiers. When we watch them, or even more when we hear them, the thought must arise in every soul, "How did we come to deserve them?" They are obviously the best of us. Whatever our views about the wars they are ordered to fight, let us never stop admiring them. Help us to never stop telling them that we admire them.

We thank you for the stories our parents and grandparents have told us about our families. Without these stories, we would know nothing of our past. We would think that we came into this world from anywhere, and not from somewhere. We'd imagine that we owe no debt to anyone, when the truth is that we owe a huge debt to lots of people. Even if the stories are not totally true, without them each of us would be just anyone, and not someone.

We thank you for the time our coaches give us. We forget that every coach has another life and other demands on his or her time, yet they take the time to guide and teach us. We may think they're coaching us on how to win. We may not realize, and even they may not be aware that they're really coaching us on how to play honestly and with all our effort. The best of them teach us that playing is much more important than winning.

We thank you for the people who let us into traffic. When we need to merge into traffic on a busy street, there are always two different visions of our need. We see the need to be given a chance to join the traffic, and those already on the way sometimes see us only as interlopers. We thank you for making a few drivers who still understand that courtesy is more important than punctuality; that kindness is worth at least a few seconds of our busy days. It's a reminder that the world is filled not just with selfishness but also with astounding generosity. We also thank you for drivers who won't let us into traffic and the ones who cut into lines where we are waiting. They help us remember to thank you for not making us like them.

We thank you for really bad Thanksgiving food. All of us have some family member who makes something for dinner that's just vile. Nobody likes this dish and nobody really eats it, and nobody ever tells the person who made it that it's quite possibly the worst thing they've ever tasted. What we do is just take a little of Grandma Mary's ginger macadamia nut chocolate coconut cranberry relish with M&Ms so she doesn't feel bad, then push it around on our plate and say we're just too full to finish it, even though it was delicious. This is a good and righteous tradeoff: bad food occasionally for good family love always.

We wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!

Monsignor Tom Hartman and Rabbi Marc Gellman are happy to try to answer your religious, personal or ethical questions. Contact the God Squad, c/o Telecare, 1200 Glenn Curtiss Blvd., Uniondale, NY 11553 or e-mail godsquad@telecaretv.org.

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