After the turkey was ready and everyone had gathered at the table, but before his father could open his mouth, five-year old Billy began to pray, “Thank you, Lord, for chocolate, cranberry sauce, the Internet, and storms that knock out the power at school.
“Thank you for my best friend, Mike, and that he trades my pudding for his cookies. Thank you for Mr. Smith at the grocery store who didn’t charge me for the candy bar. And thank you for Ms. Simpkins who gave me a gold star even though I talked during library.”
Everyone chuckled and began to get out their napkins or pass the closest dish, but Billy wasn’t done. His Mom had told him he had a lot to be thankful for this year, and, with his family gathered there, he wanted to make sure he didn’t miss anyone.
“Thank you for my brother, Gary,” Billy prayed, “Thank you for the cookies he sneaks me, as long as I don’t tell Mom when he makes me cry. Thank you for my sister, Hope, and I pray that she’ll stop going so boy crazy. It’s embarrassing.”
Gary smiled, Hope gasped, and Billy kept praying.
“Thank you for my little sister, Grace, and that she’s not annoying all the time. And thank you for baby Tim and that he always eats my peas.”
“Peas!” Tim said.
“Thank you for my Dad,” Billy said, “and that he plays video games with me and that he only yells sometimes.
“Thank you for my Mom and that she buys me treats and toys and stuff even when I don’t have the money.
“And…” Billy snuck a peek at his family around the table. “Thank you for Uncle Phil and the cool pictures he draws, and I pray that he makes something of himself soon.
“Thank you, Lord, for Grandpa Joe and the miracle that his hair grew back. Thank you for Grandma Louise even though her sweaters make me sneeze. Thank you also for Uncle Steve and for ‘that woman’ he brings around.”
‘That woman’ cleared her throat. Aunt Sally snorted. Billy prayed on.
“Thank you for my cousin Jim, and thank you that the sheriff hasn’t thrown away the key yet. Ummm… Thank you for Aunt Sally, and I pray that she won’t go too man crazy, even if she has every right given what Uncle Steve did.”
Uncle Steve choked on a cough.
“Thank you for my cousin Cathy,” Billy continued, “and her boyfriend Dan and for baby Lilly even though she showed up before she was supposed to.
“Thank you for Grammy and her warm hugs. Please heal her cold soon so her breath won’t smell like cough syrup anymore. It’s been like a year, and colds shouldn’t last that long.
“Thank you for Poppy, even though he can’t be with us any longer, at least not until his sentence is over.
“Thank you for my cousin Louise and that she and Aunt Patty made up so that we got to see them both this year.”
“Yes, Lord,” Billy’s Mom said.
“Thank you for my cousin George,” Billy said, “and that he always tries hard and always smiles. And thank you that Uncle Fred and Aunt Alice are taking such great care of his special needs.”
“Thank you!” George said. “Amen!”
“Hold on,” Billy whispered, “I’m not done.”
“Sorry,” George said. “I got excited.”
“It’s ok,” Billy said. “Thank you for Uncle Bob who’s not our real uncle and doesn’t have a job, but is fun to have around anyway.”
Billy opened one eye, and looked around.
“And last but not least,” he said, “thank you for Great-Aunt Agnes, who doesn’t really remember me but still smiles every time she sees me.”
“Monkeys are raiding the cupboards!” Great-Aunt Agnes yelled.
“And thank you, Lord for our family,” Billy said, “and that we could all be here together with a turkey and for the stuffing we’re about to eat.
“Oh, and thank you for the leftovers too. We’re lucky to have more than enough.
“Amen,” Billy said.
Billy’s father looked around the table at all of his relations then turned to Billy with pride. “And thank you, Lord, for Billy,” his father said, “and that, no matter how beat up, broken, off-balance, or leftover we are, we all have a seat at your table.”