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Q & A: Thanksgiving

November 22, 2010
By U. S. Senator Chuck Grassely (R-Iowa)

Q. When did Thanksgiving become an official federal holiday?

A. Congress established Thanksgiving as an official federal holiday in 1870. It was one of the first five federal holidays. However, it wasn’t until 1941 that Congress specified the fourth Thursday in November as the official date. Until then, it was up to the President to make a Thanksgiving proclamation each year and determine the date. It was usually held on the last Thursday in November. In 1939, President Roosevelt declared the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving, but some state Governors declared that, in their state, it would be the fifth and last Thursday of the month, making Thanksgiving a different day in various parts of the country. Congress’ action in 1941 ensured that all Americans celebrate Thanksgiving on the same day each year.

Q. How do you celebrate Thanksgiving?

A. My wife Barbara and I have five children, nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Friends and family usually join us at our farm near New Hartford where we enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving feast and reflect on our blessings.

Q. What is your favorite holiday dish?

A. It’s the three-bean casserole Barbara makes for many family gatherings. The recipe is below.

Mrs. Grassley’s Three Bean Casserole

11/2 lb. ground beef

1 small onion

1 can pork and beans, do not drain

1 can butterbeans, do not drain

1 can kidney beans, do not drain


1 tsp. salt

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup catsup

2 Tbsp. vinegar

Brown the beef and onion. Mix sauce together and stir into beef and onion. Add beans. Place in baking dish or pour into two casserole dishes and freeze one for future use. Bake at 350? for 30 minutes. Recipe makes 10-12 servings.

Q. What are you thankful for?

A. I am grateful for my supportive family and for friends and colleagues. I am grateful to Iowans for giving me an opportunity to serve them in the United States Senate. Everyday I’m thankful for this great republic, and deeply grateful to the brave men and women who defend and protect America.

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