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,