Thanksgiving is just around the corner. But some public officials, including Washington Governor Jay Inslee and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, have “canceled” traditional Thanksgiving celebrations.
“Simply put, it’s just too dangerous to gather with anyone outside our household right now,” said Gov. Inslee. “This year, our family will celebrate the holidays virtually.” Some Washingtonians have deemed Inslee the “Grinch” in social media memes and blog posts—a title he has undoubtedly earned for himself.
It’s not any better in the Windy City, where Mayor Lori Lightfoot recently told Chicagoans to “stop having guests over—including family members you don’t live with” and to “cancel traditional Thanksgiving plans.”
Why is it so important that we celebrate Thanksgiving? And why are the actions of Inslee and Lightfoot so lamentable?
The first Thanksgiving festival took place when Governor William Bradford of Plymouth Colony invited ninety Native Americans to join the Pilgrims for a three-day harvest celebration in 1621. Those faithful Christians had experienced considerable trials, including the loss of half of their company from sickness and starvation, but they were determined to praise God, trust in His providence, and impact the world for His gospel.
Thanksgiving celebrations quickly spread to other American colonies, becoming a fixture of early American life. The Continental Congress declared several “days of solemn thanksgiving and praise” during the American War for Independence, and state governors issued Thanksgiving proclamations encouraging public prayer, special worship services in churches, and civic events at town squares.
When the first US Congress met in 1789, founding father Elias Boudinot of New Jersey recommended that they direct the president to declare a day of national thanksgiving and provide “an opportunity to all the citizens of the United States of joining with one voice in returning to Almighty God their sincere thanks for the many blessings He had poured down upon them.”
President Washington heeded their advice and issued the first federal Thanksgiving proclamation for November 1789. He encouraged Americans to earnestly seek God in prayer, confessing their sins and thanking Him for His bountiful blessings, including the inalienable rights He had given them and the constitutional system of government that protects those rights.
Americans continue these traditions even today. We recognize Thanksgiving as a day to worship and give thanks to God for the innumerable ways He has blessed us. Many churches continue to host special Thanksgiving worship services. And no one ever forgets the Thanksgiving turkey when families gather around the table to feast and reflect upon the goodness of our Lord!
Don’t let the Grinches take away this precious opportunity to gather at church and celebrate at home with family and loved ones. God is worthy of our praise and gratitude. Ain’t nothin’ changin’ that.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family,
Director of Advocacy
P.S. I’ve included President Washington’s 1789 Prayer Proclamation below for those who want to read it:
By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor– and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be– That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation–for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war–for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed–for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted–for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.
and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions– to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually–to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed–to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord–To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us–and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.