My dad has a big family: 11 brothers (no sisters!), most of whom are married… or divorced and dating… or divorced and remarried… or never been married and dating… or never been married and not really dating… #modernfamily! Any gathering on his side of the family means 40 people when you consider wives, significant others, kids, dogs and random extras (this year, it was two Swedish guys in town through my dad’s Rotary club).
With that many people, you’re bound to get a wide variety of personalities. My dad and all of his brothers were raised Catholic (hence, 12 kids), but I’d say they all run the gamut of “conservative bible thumpers” to “spiritual, but not religious” and “golf is my religion.”
I’d put myself in that “spiritual, but not religious” category. I did the Lutheran confirmation thing as a teen, but that was more of a way to A) go to a fun camp in the summer and B) legally drink wine (in church, no less!). I have lots of thoughts about religion and spirituality, but I’m a “let’s talk about it in a small group setting” kind of person. On Easter Sunday of this year, when our entire family circled up to pray before dinner, I was all, “Who’s saying grace?” There are a few people who friggin’ LOVE saying grace! I waited for one of those frequent fliers to chime in.
Then some wise guy cracked, “You should do it for your blog.” Ah, crap.
With 40 sets of eyes on me, I knew I had to do it. But the thing is, I haven’t led a prayer that isn’t just some jumbled words I memorized as a kid for years, which sounds like this: comelordjesusbeourguestandletthesegiftstousbeblessedamen. And this is EASTER, like the HOLIEST of the holy days. And there are people here who believe this is basically the most sacred day of the year, not “Zombie Jesus Day,” which is how I like to think of it. Definitely, 100 percent, I was going to offend someone… which was probably fine because they could just re-say grace to themselves after I messed it up, right?
Starting out with “Dear Lord” or “Dear Jesus” is just not me, so I think I said something like this:
Dearly Beloved, We are gathered here today, to celebrate this thing called… Easter.
Yes, I quoted Prince. (Who is a devout Jehova’s Witness, by the way. They don’t celebrate Easter. No purple Cadbury eggs for him!) Then I said some things I meant, like how we’re thankful for the food and the opportunity to get together with family and friends, followed by a hearty, “Amen!”
It was a little awkward, but I got the job done. And then we got to eat, which is my favorite part.