By Tom Ehrich

My first Thanksgiving Day away from home was in 1963, when a college friend and I went to nearby Boston and discovered a city in mourning.

We shared a rather somber meal in a downtown restaurant. We were homesick and still confused five days after our President was assassinated.

An elderly couple at the next table gauged our mood and engaged us in friendly conversation.

The giving of thanks, I realized, often begins in being surprised by grace.

Thirteen years later, an older couple I barely knew invited me to their home in New Hampshire for Thanksgiving dinner. I had already met their daughter, so I gladly said Yes. We were married seven months later.

We soon began to populate a Thanksgiving table, first with our children, and extended family, and then with parishioners who welcomed a place at our table.

This year we are adding a new generation.

Americans have several national holidays. Thanksgiving Day is the one that brings us to our knees in humble gratitude. It reminds us that we depend on each other. And that we depend on God's surprising grace.

Whether we farm the land, teach children, make products, deploy technology or raise children, we rely on resources that we didn't create, we offer skills that others gave to us, and we receive help we couldn't possibly earn.

Of all the holidays, Thanksgiving puts our lives and egos in proper perspective.