Who Would You Invite to Thanksgiving?

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Several years ago at Thanksgiving we asked staff members at the American Humanist Association to share their unique Thanksgiving traditions (see here). Other years we’ve offered a Thanksgiving prayer alternative and non-prayers for the holiday. This year we asked staff: If you could invite any guest (living or dead) to your Thanksgiving dinner who would it be, and why? Here’s what they said.


Jennifer Bardi, Editor in Chief, Deputy Director

As much as I’d love to invite someone fabulous or intriguing from the past (Mark Twain, Charlie Parker, Ruth Gordon, Shirley Chisholm, Albert Camus, and George Carlin are high on that list), my top choice has to be my dad, who died in early 2007. I’d love to talk to him about the last decade in politics (yes, my family goes there at holiday dinners!), and toast UCLA’s victory over USC last weekend.

Peter Bjork, Web Content Manager

I’m sure my answer to this question would change with the wind, but right now if I could invite any guest to my Thanksgiving table it would probably be comedian Amy Sedaris. Her quirky sensibility and knowledge of crafts and party planning would be a welcome addition to any celebration—most especially Thanksgiving. And if she brought her brother David along, that would be swell too. 🙂

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Erasmus of Rotterdam

Luis Granados, Humanist Press Director

If we weren’t talking about Thanksgiving, the person I’d most like to chat with would be the apostle Peter or James, so I could get the straight scoop on what really happened back in the first century. Erasmus of Rotterdam would also be an engaging dinner companion—the monk who renounced fasting on the grounds that “My heart is Catholic but my stomach is Protestant.” But since we are talking about Thanksgiving, the people I would most want to be with are my deceased parents, the people to whom I owe the most thanks—and who used to put on a heck of a spread.

Sharon McGill, Graphic Designer

I would invite Ursula K. LeGuin, who died earlier this year. My reasoning is totally selfish: she’s one of my favorite writers! I would totally pick her brain about her life, storytelling, and how she created (and demanded) respect for science fiction and fantasy as serious literature.

Photo by K. Kendall

Monica Miller, Senior Counsel

Thomas Jefferson, so I could pick his brain on Establishment Clause issues, including his take on modern Establishment Clause jurisprudence and the dangerously narrow interpretations espoused by our opponents.

Emily Newman, Education Coordinator

I would invite Mel Brooks to my family’s Thanksgiving dinner because he’s someone everyone would enjoy. Together we would tell stories about the “good old days” growing up in Brooklyn, New York, sing songs, and crack jokes. My family loves to laugh and discuss films, especially comedies, so I think he’d be a great guest to help us avoid political arguments and just enjoy each other’s company.

Photo by Angela George

David Niose, Legal Director

Jack Reed and Louise Bryant, the early-twentieth-century American radicals. They were intelligent, literary, political, and engaged in the big issues of their day. I’m sure they would make for great conversation. (And it helps that we wouldn’t need a translator!)

Meredith Thompson, Development Associate

I’m fortunate in that I get to celebrate Thanksgiving every year with my family and other guests of choice—turkeys! Every year Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary hosts Thanksgiving WITH the Turkeys, a largescale vegan potluck that emphasizes ethical food consumption and community. As the guests of honor, the resident turkeys eat before the humans. It’s a great opportunity for the 1,000+ humans in attendance to begin to understand and develop an alternate relationship to those we so unthinkingly exploit.

Kristin Wintermute, Director of Education

Julia Child. I want to spend the day cooking with her and enjoying whatever lavish concoctions we manage to whip up. Plus, I know she would not only pick the most delicious wine to accompany it all but have great stories to share as well.

Photo by Lynn Gilbert (1978)