Thanksgiving in Texas


For some, Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season, and is full of food, family, and shopping. Was it always this way?

How did Thanksgiving come about in the U.S.? Why do we celebrate it in November?

Early Thanksgivings

Our first president, George Washington, issued a proclamation that named Thursday, November 16, 1789, as a “Day of Publick Thanksgivin.” This was the first Thanksgiving celebrated under the new U.S. Constitution.

Subsequent presidents would issue proclamations, but they failed to keep any real continuity until President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Proclamation. President Lincoln scheduled Thanksgiving as the last Thursday of November.

–See Congress Establishes Thanksgiving

Then, in 1939, President Franklin D.  Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving to the second to last Thursday of November to lengthen the Christmas shopping season, but not all states agreed, so for a couple of years, two different days were celebrated as Thanksgiving across the nation.

This is when Congress finally got involved and established the holiday as the fourth Thursday in November.

–See H.J. Res. 41

Happy Turkey Day

Turkey has long been a major part of Thanksgiving, but what about that pardoned turkey from the White House? Is he really issued a pardon?

The first president to issue an “official pardon” for the turkey presented to him was George H. W. Bush in 1989. Before that, other presidents would spare a lucky bird, but President Bush was the first to officially pardon one.

President Bush said, “But let me assure you, and this fine tom turkey, that he will not end up on anyone’s dinner table, not this guy—he’s granted a Presidential pardon as of right now—and allow him to live out his days on a children’s farm not far from here.”

–See Pardoning the Thanksgiving Turkey

Celebrate the Good Times!

Not all turkeys are so lucky, though, and with all that family around, it’s common to have an adult beverage or two with your meal. Just make sure you stock up before Thanksgiving Day.

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (aka the TABC) is the state agency tasked with maintaining the rules and statutes for alcohol sales in Texas. No person in Texas can sell, offer for sale, or deliver any liquor on Sundays, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, or New Year’s Day.

–See Hours of Sale: Liquor – Tex. Alco. Bev. Code § 105.01

Astute readers will notice that the previous paragraph refers to liquor only. The rules are different for beer and wine, which may be purchased on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day (assuming the retailers are open). However, if one of those holidays falls on a Sunday, you must wait until after noon to purchase beer and wine.

–See Hours of Sale: Wine and Beer Retailer – Tex. Alco. Bev. Code § 105.04

But Stay Safe

This year has brought the COVID-19 pandemic, and along with it are many rules and regulations about gathering sizes.  Be sure to check local and state gathering limitations and be aware of the CDC guidelines before you host Thanksgiving dinner or travel.

We know that this year has brought about new trials and tribulations, but we pray that you will join with us this year to be thankful for what you have. With each trial and tribulation, we learn more about ourselves and who we can count on when times get tough. Our family will pray for yours during these tough times.

From all of us at Matthew Harris Law, we hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving!

–Authored by Emily D. Walterscheid, PP, PLS,

Matthew Harris Law, PLLC – Civil Litigation Division

1101 Broadway, Lubbock, Texas, 79401-3303

Tel: (806) 702-4852 | Fax: (800) 985-9479

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