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  1. After dinner, and after I leave my in-laws house, this is what I say to mark the occasion: “If I survive the chaos of Christmas, I don’t have to see these people for another year.”

  2. I think Alain de Botton wins this hands down (although he is not American) with his “Thank you Plato, thank you Shakespeare, thank you Jane Austen!” That’s what I would say on Thanksgiving!

  3. To paraphrase Richard, “It’s pretty amazing that I’m here”. I think what he means is that my genes have survived through wars, famine, pestilence, natural catastrophes, Spanish Inquisitions (and nobody ever expects them! 8)), disease, mutinies, plaques, murderous kings, queens, despots, fascists, emperors. Clever little genes. A toast to my genes! 8)

  4. “Saying grace” and thanking a deity is disingenuous to all the people that do not have food, shelter, or company on this holiday: all of whom have been apparently forgotten by said deity. Not to mention the reason we have this holiday is closely connected to the indiscriminate slaughter of Native Americans in the United States. In addition, excess and consumerism have redefined what people should find important about this and any holiday: enjoy the time you have with your family (whatever type of family that may be), before we all die.

  5. Last year, we went around the room and everyone said one thing that they were thankful for (not allowing repeats). Even though I am the only one in the family of 10 people who will proclaim atheistic beliefs, not one person mentioned god. There are many things we can be thankful for. This year, I imagine that much of our thanks will have to do with my grandmother. She recently had a pacemaker put in. SCIENCE has given us another holiday with her (and hopefully more). I am thankful for the technology that is regulating her heart and the people who spent their time making it.

  6. Thank Goodness!

    There’s no hope this comment will win because it is basically Dennett’s credit, not mine, but I don’t intend it to be such anyway, it seemed thematically relevant, and it might give others food for thought when they post their contest entries after my post. Also, I’m not American, so this holiday doesn’t apply to me.

  7. I once heard this at an atheist’s family table when I was a child and I always remember it:)
    Earh that gives us all that food, sun that makes it ripe and good, dearest earth, dearest sun, we won’t forget what you have done.

  8. Just the name: Thanksgiving, denotes that one is giving thanks to someone or something. Similar to: ‘Count your blessings’. How about: ‘Enjoy the time we’re here! And for this food, and wine and beer!’

  9. I’m not even american but adopted the tradition because it looks cozy to sit down, take some family time, have a nice meal and enjoy each other’s presence. I don’t see the need to say ‘thank you’ on a particular day. Each day is brilliant and is to be spent in awe of what’s around us. Each day is there to teach our children of what we know. To guide them and teach them to ponder and keep asking questions. Thanksgiving is just a silly excuse for a nice meal. And if more people dare to be completely honest, that’s just what it is all about. The food.

  10. Let us give thanks to the universe for creating the atoms from which we are constructed, for availing the conditions to allow us to evolve and adapt to those conditions, and for enabling our awareness so that we can appreciate and enjoy our existence.

  11. I don’t live in the United States so i don’t celebrate Thanksgiving.
    I’d rather not judge too much about thanksgiving as i don’t know all that much about it.
    But recently i’ve taken a new perspective on many traditions and ”holidays”.
    Around this time of year we celebrate ”Sinterklaas” in the Netherlands, it’s a children’s holiday much like Santa Claus.
    But why do we celebrate it? After much time questioning and thinking i’ve come to the conclusion that it’s simply because everyone does it, and it’s a tradition.
    So why should i celebrate something like that simply because it is tradition.
    I’d much rather celebrate something like the Maven launch or a newly discovered species.
    I’ve realized i don’t really care anymore about the yearly recurring holidays.
    So while many children in the country i live in will be thanking ”Sinterklaas” for all the presents he leaves by our shoes before exiting through the chimney, i will most likely look up at the stars and thank the universe for being such a mystery.
    I thank all of my ancestors down to the single celled organisms for created an awe inspiring legacy of evolution for us to thread in.
    And of course i will thank Science and the Scientists for being my conduit to the universe, and hopefully helping me reach their ranks one day.

  12. Why should you give thanks to anybody or anything other than your good fortune at being the product of two sets of chromosomes that set you up to get this far? Just be relieved that you got a decent set of genes and didn’t peg it before now. At best, you have nobody to thank but your spouse for giving you a chance to pass on a share of your own semi-successful twenty three. Go upstairs and do some two-person mutual rejoicing instead. Life’s short and humble enough without tugging your forelock over an overcooked turkey who’s genes didn’t stand him in good reproductive stead.

  13. Lettuce pray. Say grace – “grace”.

    “As god as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!”

    Over the river and through the woods…hurray for thanksgiving day! – a charming ditty, passed down the generations in my family.

  14. We thank the Founding Fathers for setting up the outline for a perfect society and we encourage all thinking people to reject the way that religion has reduced that society to one ruled by bigotry and superstition. May we soon return to the ideal that our founders intended.

  15. Maybe thank the Native Americans for helping get through that first winter.

    Squanto, a Patuxent Native American who resided with the Wampanoag tribe, taught the Pilgrims how to catch eel and grow corn and served as an interpreter for them (Squanto had learned English during travels in England). Additionally the Wampanoag leader Massasoit had donated food stores to the fledgling colony during the first winter when supplies brought from England were insufficient.

    [wikipedia]

  16. Give thanks to the people who truly made the meal possible. Give thanks to all the people present for their time, support, and friendship throughout the year.

    Instead of “Thank you Lord for these thy gifts through thy bounty of Christ our Lord. Amen” give special thanks to the cooks for spending the last two evenings preparing the meal and anyone who brought a dish. Thank the host and hostess for spending their hard earned money in making the meal possible. Give thanks to cashier or waiter/waitress who is spending their day at work instead of with family and friends. Give thanks to the truck drivers who have driven cross country in snowy weather so that we could have fresh produce. Give thanks to the people who farmed the land and picked the vegetables. Give thanks for all the people who have handed down recipes and traditions over generations so that it can be enjoyed today. Give thanks to anyone no longer living that in some way has contributed to the memories of the day. Give thanks to anyone whose expertise in any area of food preparation, wine making, etc. made the meal possible. …and in Native American tradition keeping with Thanksgiving, you could even thank the turkey for giving its life.

  17. Let us be thankful that in our world today there are brave individuals such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and the late Christopher Hitchens, just to mention a few. They who are the voice of rationality opposing religious barbarism, and bronze age paganism, may we always be inclined to lend them our support. May it be granted to us (not by any imaginary deity) but rather by our own rational thinking, that this world may be rid of all the negative aspects of religious doctrine which have resulted in horrors such as 911. May we never see them again! AMEN.

  18. Yes, I am too late to enter the contest but the subject coincides with a conversation I just had with my wife as we prepared to host religious relatives for our annual Thanksgiving meal. I announced to my wife that we should no longer tolerate one of them saying the Blessing as done in the past. She agreed that once everyone was seated I would announce that I wanted to say a few words about Thanksgiving. My comments will be to acknowledge how fortunate we are to meet once again in good health with family. Thanksgiving is more than a full belly, football games on TV, and a fun time with friends and relatives. Thanksgiving is really a remembrance of those who no longer sit with us at this table. We have loving memories of a spouse, parents and grandparents. We should acknowledge that we are fortunate enough to live in a free country that protects individual rights such as the right to worship or not. We can hope that the future will find us together again in good health to enjoy each other’s company. We must cherish every minute together and live the good life filled with empathy and generosity to those less fortunate than we. We must be patient but firm with our enemies and above all we must preserve the nation that made it all possible.

  19. I would probably ask for a minutes silence to reflect on what Thanks Giving means to the original inhabitants and true owners of the country. Then I would promptly immigrate to Australia and ask the same question here.

  20. I give thanks to the late Christopher Hitchens, Samuel Harris, Richard Dawkins and so many more, who tirelessly campaign to bring about an age of reason, critical thought and religious biggotry

  21. give thanks to the earth and to all unknown unacknowledged used and abused
    human and other sentient beings
    who make my comfort and this good meal possible – i’ve made little cards and hand them out

  22. Before we pick up our knives and forks, we offer our thanks to the farmers who raise the grains and vegetables and the meat and poultry and to the fishermen who bring in the catch for without them, we’d go hungry. We could go on down the line to the grocers, but by then the turkey would be cold.

  23. Thank you for not being present in my work, thank you for not operate the machines and equipment that my boss bought with my sweat. This saves you the effort of me thank you for my own achievements.

  24. I once attended a Thanksgiving dinner where they passed around a hat full of inspirational (secular) quotes on slips of paper, each person took turns reading one. It was pretty nice to do that.

  25. Back in the early 70′s my little sister came home from some gathering or another with a grace that has served our extensive family well these last 40+ years. Catholic, Baptist, Anglican, Jewish, Free Thinker, Protestant, atheist, agnostic, New Age, step kids, foster kids, friends … It works for every single one of us.

    “For this food
    And the roof above us
    For light, and warmth, and those who love us
    We give thanks”

  26. I thank
    Madelyn Murray O’Hair for who she was, which gives me the courage to be the “Firebrand” I am today. Asserting my Atheism, without reservation. Also, using a capital “A” when writing the word Atheist with pride. Thanks Madelyn, you’re missed!

  27. Thanks be to the true creators: those who ask questions and find answers. Thanks to the engineers, scientists, architects, designers and critical thinkers all over the world who nourish our ever-growing need for development and amplify the beauty of knowledge. Thanks to the parents and teachers who guide the wisdom and skepticism of our youth by teaching them to think with an open and unquiet mind. Thanks to the curious people of the world who have passion for discovery and truth; the people who mold our future with apt and skillful hands.

  28. Well, we should also have a thanks day for being 150 million of Km apart from the sun, a thanks day to be part of a species being able to have conciousness of gratefulness or ultimately a thanks day of the big bang as well. Then I will understand thanksgiving day.

  29. I am thankful for the “pale blue dot” that is our home and that Carl Sagan so eloquently described. And I am thankful for the Universe that, despite its best efforts to kill us, we have so far managed to survive. And I am thankful for the chance to be here to experience it all and to be thankful this Thanksgiving day.

  30. Let us be thankful to those who helped to bring this food to our table, the farmers, the laborers, the scientists and the chefs. Let us be thankful for this day of rest and repast that allows us to share the fruits of the Earth together with family and friends.

  31. I am just lurking, not many here in Oz do Thanksgiving, I was just curious, who would you thank other than your hosts? So, please don’t mind me as I scroll down the comments to satisfy my curiosity.

    • In reply to #64 by Rugglesby:

      I am just lurking, not many here in Oz do Thanksgiving, I was just curious, who would you thank other than your hosts? So, please don’t mind me as I scroll down the comments to satisfy my curiosity.
      I’m in Oz also, although I lived in Canada for many years, where pretty much all American Festivities are unnecessarily aped. Considering that the history behind the American thanksgiving tradition is just that, American, there is absolutely no reason in Australia to bother with it at all. It is basically a ploy by the turkey marketing board to increase consumption of a grossly over rated fowl. Much the same can be said for Halloween also, a revival of “All Hallows Eve,” something that contains even more religiosity that Thanksgiving.

  32. I live abroad and wake up every Thanksgiving morning giving thanks that I do not have to go through this ritual of stuffing myself in order to commemorate the decimation of the Native American population. Instead of saying grace I remind my children, “This is not a celebratory day for the Native Americans.”

  33. At this time of Thanksgiving, I want to thank those who came before me and paved the way, making it possible for me to enjoy a standard of living that even kings did not enjoy just 100 years ago.

    First of all, thanks to everyone who worked to invent the vaccines that have let me live my life free of polio, measles, whooping cough, tetanus, yellow fever, and dozens of other diseases that cut short the lives of millions before me.

    Thanks to those who designed and built the ships, railroads, highways, cars, trains, planes, and other systems of transportation that allow us to trade with one another around the globe and even take trips just for pleasure.

    Thanks to the people who created sanitary plumbing, and allowed us to simply twist a handle to get a drink of water or to remove our own bodily wastes from our homes.

    Thanks to the astronomers, physicists, biologists, and others who over the centuries have fought, and continue to fight, to replace mythology and mystical beliefs with rational understanding of how our world and our universe work.

    Thank you, Thomas Paine, for your arguments for reason and against revealed religion. Although you were a deist, you were well ahead of your time.

    To these people and the countless others who spent their lives in the furtherance of human knowledge and scientific thought, thank you, and may we all continue to move mankind forward from the darkness of primitive superstition and into the light of reason.

  34. This is what we said:

    Let us give thanks to the earth, the sun, the air and the water needed to nourish the plants and animals that will nourish us.
    Let us give thanks to the farmers that cared for these plants, the laborers that processed them, and our friends who prepared these meals.
    It is the act of eating that we reconnect with the universe.
    We give thanks to the brain that is conscious that of that connection.
    We also give thanks to evolution that turned some species of dinosaurs into walking balls of meats with tiny heads.
    From the stars we come and to the stars we will return.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  35. This is what I will say if asked to give a blessing or say grace at Thanksgiving this year:

    “Instead of bowing our heads in submission to thank the One who cannot be seen, I’d like us all to turn and face the generous person/people who prepared this meal for us. Thank YOU for this bountiful feast, for your hard work and your time. And more broadly, let us thank all the others who contributed to this meal: the scientists who developed the crops in labs and fields over the centuries, the farmers who raised this food, the workers who picked, packed and shipped the food, and those who sold it to the people who prepared this food for us today. To all of you, we express a most sincere “Thank You” this Thanksgiving season. Now, let’s all enjoy this wonderful meal!”

  36. I belonged to a Rotary Club several years ago – I told the president of the club that I was an atheist, and that I shouldn’t be asked to say “grace”. One night several months later he announced,”John Perkins will say grace”, so I stood up and intoned,” What we are about to receive, may our gut pass safely through us.” I heard a murmur from the other Rotarian diners, which was,” What the hell did he say?”.
    During the rest of my time in Rotary I was never asked to say grace again.

  37. I am not from American continent or anywhere near, but shouldn’t they rather be observing a minutes silence for those who helped and were decimated in return. Just a thought I had.

  38. at my aunts place she gets everyone at the table to say what there thankful for. Not just for thanksgiving but every meal with family. Its great cause it gives you a moment to hear the best part of everyones day and what everyone enjoys and is exited about.

  39. I’ll hold hands with family, look at each of them one by one and simply state: “I am thankful for all ancestors of the human race who’s evolution, cumulative knowledge, sacrifice and effort have allowed me to enjoy the things in life that only a few years ago would have been impossible. Isn’t that aspect of evolution grand?”

  40. We have been sharing the 5 Kernels of Corn story for over 20 years at our Thanksgiving dinners. Once the dinner table is set, 5 kernels of corn are placed on each plate. My son reads the story of the Starving Time -

    “Most of us are familiar with the story of the first Thanksgiving in 1621. We are far less familiar with the period the Pilgrims called the “starving time.” Following the Thanksgiving celebration that we are familiar with, the Pilgrims continued to struggle with provisions. The general food rations continued to decline through the winter of 1622. The Pilgrims put much of their hope in the fall harvest of corn but it was a dismal failure. In late 1622 a ship bound for England held the various items that the Pilgrims desperately needed and the captain of the ship cheated them terribly. However, this ship provided them the items they would need to trade with the Indians for food. Even with the additional food from the Indians, the food shortage was still severe. Rations continued to be decreased due to the extreme shortage of food. At one point during 1623, rations were a few grains of corn each day. The Pilgrims were surviving on just five kernels of corn a day. As Spring came and the planting time for the corn crop, a boat was fitted with some fishing gear to catch fish for the colony. There was some success with fish and clams. The Pilgrims planted corn and hoped for a bountiful harvest.
    Sadly, a severe drought struck the area and soon withered the corn crop. The next day gentle showers occurred off and on for two weeks. The corn revived and the crop spared. Later that same month another ship of colonists arrived with people and provisions. The harvest of 1623 was the best yet in Plymouth and gave hope that they would never face starvation again.

    The tradition of giving five kernels of corn began with the celebration of Forefather’s Day on December 22, 1820. There were two main reasons for the five kernels. The first was to remember the sacrifice and the suffering of the Pilgrims. The second was to give thanks.

    Today, the five kernels of corn is a way to remember to the sacrifices of the past and to be thankful for all we have. The modern celebration is to give thanks with each kernel of corn.

    (As each of the following are read, each person picks up one of the kernels and eats it.)
    The first kernel was thanks for the Autumn beauty.
    The second kernel was to give thanks for loving one another.
    The third piece of corn was in thankfulness for their family.
    The fourth was in thanks for friendship.
    The fifth and final kernel was in gratitude for the freedom that they found in America.”

    We have found that when we share this with people who haven’t heard it before, they are quite surprised that the Pilgrims survived on so little food. The 5 kernels sitting so lonely on the plate is a powerful lesson. Eating the 5 kernels does not suppress any feelings of hunger. The dinner is served and everyone realizes just how fortunate we are and how much we have to be thankful for.
    Like I mentioned before, we have been doing this tradition for 20 years and it seems to satisfy all our religious friends, yet, we really aren’t practicing any type of religion by just saying we are thankful!

    • Nice story, but thankful to whom?

      In reply to #76 by RockyMts:

      We have been sharing the 5 Kernels of Corn story for over 20 years at our Thanksgiving dinners. Once the dinner table is set, 5 kernels of corn are placed on each plate. My son reads the story of the Starving Time -

      “Most of us are familiar with the story of the first Thanksgiving in 1621. We are f…

  41. The question is: How do you give thanks to something that doesn’t exist and why would you want to?

    Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
    and never brought to mind?
    Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
    and auld lang syne?

    For auld lang syne, my jo,
    for auld lang syne,
    we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
    for auld lang syne.

  42. “Some hae meat and canna eat,
    And some wad eat that want it,
    But we hae meat and we can eat,
    And sae the Lord be thankit.”

    Robbie Burns, of course. The sentiment is so precisely put, and so humanly encompassing that I can even live with the reference to the invisible fairy at the end of it. If I could express gratitude for the generosity of the circumstances that brought the people to the table, sort of what “holysmokes” said a few posts below in one word, I would, but I can’t. So, only for the sake of poetry, I would leave the “Lord” his one word place.

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