by E&E Legal Senior Policy Fellow Greg Walcher
As appearing in The Daily Sentinel
Good Housekeeping magazine has a list of the most famous and popular Thanksgiving songs of all time, and more than half of them are about food. My favorite was recorded by the jazz pioneer Cab Calloway in 1948, called “Everybody Eats When They Come to My House.” It is not about turkey, but does mention gravy, as well as tomatoes, bananas, bologna, pancakes, salami, bagels, pasta, knish, latke, and even chili con carne (“don’t be so picky, Mickey”). Calloway danced around in his gaudiest zoot suit while singing, “Eat the tables, the chairs, the napkins, who cares — you got to eat if it chokes you.”
The line reminds me of several times I ended the day on the couch in a food coma. The day of Thanksgiving most Americans celebrated yesterday is the quintessentially American holiday, a tradition as old as the country itself. The first official Thanksgiving proclamation, written by George Washington in 1789, expressed the American people’s gratitude for “an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.” Americans have celebrated their blessings ever since.
During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln urged all Americans to “implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.” In the depths of the depression, Franklin Roosevelt expressed the nation’s “humble thanks for the blessings bestowed upon us,” and in 1996, President Clinton offered thanks to “the genius of our founders in daring to build the world’s first constitutional democracy on the foundation of trust and thanks to God.”