This newspaper arrives in most homes on Thursdays. Except next Thursday, which is Thanksgiving Day. If you are hosting family and friends for a Thanksgiving feast, this week is one of preparation before the big dinner.

In America we have so much for which to give thanks to God. Our Creator gives us life, our daily bread and every other good thing. People rightly will gather around their table next Thursday and thank God for the food they share.

Some gratitude also goes to clever researchers, geneticists, farmers and marketers who have helped supersize most holiday dinners in this country. A family this year can bring to their table more food at less cost than in their grandparents’ day. {{more}}

One example sits at the center of the Thanksgiving dinner table, the turkey. Eighty years ago, according to a Wired magazine report, an average turkey weighed about 13 pounds. Today an average turkey is bred to weigh 29 pounds. These genetically modified birds convert food into muscle faster and reach maturity in half the time than their cousins of yesteryear.

Scientists estimate that if genetic modifications continue as they have, in 10 years the average turkey will thump onto the table at 40 pounds.

Whether all this poundage is good for the turkey that can barely walk is a matter of debate. Industrialized agriculture has led to more food – including bigger turkeys, more plentiful mashed potatoes and sweeter corn – produced and shipped at lower cost than ever before in human history.

And still Catholics and others of good will see the need to volunteer every Thanksgiving Day by serving food to those who lack the means for a hearty meal, or companions with which to share it. Maybe this is the real lesson of Thanksgiving: despite the Lord’s bounty of blessings and the resourcefulness of humanity, people go hungry. The day reminds us to thank God for the miracle of food and reach out to His lonely children with the miracle of love.

May this prayer by Msgr. Michael Buckley from “The Catholic Prayer Book” suffice at the Thanksgiving table at which you sit: “Thank you, Father, for having created us and given us to each other in the human family. Thank you for being with us in all our joys and sorrows, for your comfort in our sadness, your companionship in our loneliness…. Thank you for friends, for health and for grace. May we live this and every day conscious of all that has been given to us.”