December 2023

My sister Betsy emailed me after Thanksgiving to share her gratitude for the peaceful time she and my siblings and nephew had spent together, with good conversation and a wonderful meal. My husband Booker and I had gone to Clarksville, Tennessee, a sprawling city to which my son Dan and his family returned after his four-year posting in Italy. They recently moved into a new house, and the celebration had morphed into a housewarming party for over 30 people of all ages, including friends, family, and a few young soldiers who hadn’t been invited elsewhere.

We had Filipino dishes and traditional American ones, football games on the big screen, laughter and chatter in Tagalog and English, children running up and down the stairs, and karaoke after the meal. Booker had been assigned to cook the turkey. My assignment was to give a blessing for their new home. When that time came, the mood shifted, people were quiet and attentive. I began:

Today is a happy day, a day to remember all the gifts of our lives and to be thankful.

Today Syrisa, Dan, Kaleb, Kylie and Kassandra are happy to have you all here to celebrate Thanksgiving and their new home. And Syrisa asked me to offer a blessing—to bless their new home.

“And the food,” she interjected.

May this house and home be blessed.

May its walls and roof remain strong.

May its rooms know laughter and sharing.

May it shelter this family faithfully in warmth and in safety
through the ordinary times, the happy times,
and the times of struggle that we know are part of life.

May it remind them of times past and the paths they have traveled.

May it be a place of refuge and comfort to come home to.

And may it always, always be filled with love.

I remembered my grandfather’s mealtime prayer, “Bless this food to our use, and us to Thy service,” and I finished:

May God bless this food to our use, and may God bless us all. Amen

As the night went on, both Booker and I got drawn into karaoke. Later, I put my arm around my daughter-in-law, and we stood watching the fun.

May we find blessings where we are. And may this season bring us the gifts we most need.

It is ever a blessing to be your minister,

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