cover image The Thanksgiving Ceremony: New Traditions for America's Family Feast

The Thanksgiving Ceremony: New Traditions for America's Family Feast

Edward Bleier. Crown Publishers, $14.95 (127pp) ISBN 978-1-4000-4787-1

This little volume's central offering--a short spoken reading--is the author's model of a Thanksgiving ceremony for those seeking to bring greater spiritual depth to their holiday celebrations. Bleier, a television executive and member of the Council on Foreign Relations, claims that Thanksgiving is the""only holiday centered on a meal that also incorporates all Americans of all religions and ethnic backgrounds."" Our current focus on feast and football, he says, fails to meet the spiritual needs of the day--and his template for a formal family ceremony around the Thanksgiving table is designed to change that. The brief but informative historical background provided by both the author and William Safire (who penned the foreword) details the precedents for and evolution of Thanksgiving as an idea and as a holiday, stretching from the Mayflower pilgrims to President Bush and his post 9-11 declaration of thanks""to God for the many blessings we enjoy as a free, faithful and fair-minded land."" The ceremony itself is thoughtful but stiff, containing passages that some may find awkward and contrived, including a praise for the ""navigability of our lakes and rivers."" It is difficult to picture any group pulling off the 20-minute, earnest but dry ceremony, although those seeking a framework for serious reflection may eagerly appropriate the suggestions in this book. The strongest reason for purchase will be the nearly 40 pages given to quotes, prayers and hymns appropriate to the day, culled from a wide variety of secular and religious sources and collected for those who wish to proclaim their thanks with a more personalized style.