My oldest nephew, Kenneth, spent a lot of time with us when he was two to three years old. Afternoons, when I would put him down for a nap, I would read to him from a Hallmark nursery rhyme pop-up book given to me by my mother on my first Fathers’ Day. Kenny loved hearing the rhymes and pulling the tabs to see Jack jump over the candlestick, the mouse run up and down the clock, and turning the page to reveal a pop-up scene of a frightened Miss Muffett running from a menacing spider hanging over her head. His favorite, though, was making a smiling full moon rise in the night-time sky as I read: “I see the moon, the moon sees me; God bless the moon, and God bless me.”
Often, at dinner time, Kenny would “help” me in the kitchen with the preparations. I would place him on a stool opposite me on the other side of a counter separating the kitchen and the dining area. He would measure, pour, mix, and stir ingredients, crack eggs, and grate cheese. On one occasion, I was drinking a beer as we were preparing a favorite dish, macaroni and cheese. Kenny asked if he could have a taste of my beer. Recalling that my dad occasionally let me have a small amount of beer in a shot glass, I took a shot glass from the cupboard and poured some beer into it. Kenny picked up the shot glass and was about to drink when I stopped him. “Just a minute,” I said. “We have to have a toast.”
“What’s a toast?” he asked.
“It’s like making a wish,” I said. “Here. Hold up your glass.” He raised his glass. I clinked the rim of my glass against his. “Here’s to your health,” I said. We both drank, then went on with the macaroni and cheese preparations. A bit later, Kenny asked if he could have more beer. I poured another splash into his glass which he picked up. “Make a toast,” he said.
“No,” I said. “It’s your turn. You make the toast.”
Closing one eye and twisting up his mouth, I could see he was thinking hard as he continued to hold up his glass. Suddenly, shoving his glass toward me, he shouted, “God bless the moon!”
Thirty-some years later, when our family is together for holidays, celebrations, or other occasions at which a toast might be appropriate, a family member will offer the family’s traditional toast, “God bless the moon!”