ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
Tomorrow, the moment may come when all of the drama and noise of the week dies down. The Thanksgiving meal is on the table. Everyone pulls up their chairs, maybe it's quiet, and then - what? Do you say grace, read a poem, just dive in?
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
We asked you, our listeners, to share stories about how you mark this moment. Some of your answers brought us right into your dining rooms.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
JESSICA BECKER: OK, five, four, three, two, one.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)
UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Singing) Say thank you to God, joyously singing.
CORNISH: In Fort Wayne, Indiana, Jessica Becker's family sings this song just before eating.
SHAPIRO: She writes, the table is full of Catholics, Protestants, even agnostics. And yet for a moment, we're united in a song of gratitude and something larger than ourselves.
CORNISH: Some of you told us you say grace in the language of your parents or grandparents - Norwegian, Hawaiian, Yoruba. Eleanor Duff of Potomac, Maryland writes, my husband and I are Scottish immigrants. So we taught our kids "The Selkirk Grace" by Robert Burns.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
ELEANOR DUFF: Some hae meat and canny eat, and some hae nane that want it. But we hae meat and we can eat, and sae the Lord be thankit (ph).
SHAPIRO: That one dates back to 1794. Jess Crawford of Portland, Oregon, goes for the more whimsical. She writes, my family uses the blessing from the children's book "Thanksgiving At The Tappletons."
CORNISH: The basic plot of the story is that each member of the family makes a different dish. Each dish turns out to be a disaster, so when mealtime comes everyone arrives at the table empty-handed.
SHAPIRO: But the wise and loving grandmother thinks fast and says this, as read by Jess Crawford.
(SOUNDBITE OF READING)
JESS CRAWFORD: Turkeys come and turkeys go and trimmings may be lost, we know. But we're together, that's what matters, not what's served upon the platters.
CORNISH: And sometimes our elder relatives crack us up. Karen Zander of St. Augustine, Florida, writes that her grandfather was the joker in the family. Her grandmother was more stoic, of sound German stock. On Thanksgiving, Zander writes, grandpa would always deliver grace and we all knew what was coming.
SHAPIRO: Audie, can I be grandpa this time?
CORNISH: Oh, yeah, OK, be my guest.
SHAPIRO: OK. Over the lips and through the gums, lookout stomach, here it comes.
CORNISH: Karen Zander continues, every time, every year that elicited a very stern rebuke from my grandmother, which was the best part.
SHAPIRO: And here's another short and sweet blessing that may get a stern rebuke from a stoic grandma.
CORNISH: Rub a dub dub, thanks for the grub.
SHAPIRO: A lot of you sang your praises to that one.
CORNISH: And for the more enlightened - thank you, Buddha, for the foodha (ph).
SHAPIRO: But for many of you, tomorrow's grace will be more traditional. Anne Campeau of Chattanooga, Tennessee, says, at her Thanksgiving table, they always recognize those who can't be there, and then her grandfather leads them in the Catholic version of "Our Father." She writes, it's the same routine every year and that is what makes it comforting. While those in the circle change as we have births, deaths, marriage or divorce, we always stand in a circle and are thankful for what we have.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.