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When Thanksgiving was declared a federal holiday in 1868, it was done as a way to give thanks for the blessing of the harvest, sharing tradition with family.

For as long as Katie Wood could remember, her Thanksgiving always began inside the church.

“We’ve been doing this as long as we’ve lived in this neck of the woods, and actually going back to my parents, we would also go to mass before we had our Thanksgiving because you say thanks first before you have something to eat,” said Peter Hickman, Wood’s father. 

Every year, the Hickman family attends mass. This year it was led  by Bishop Michael Burbidge, of the Diocese of Arlington, who says Thanksgiving is the perfect time to pause and reflect. 

“God’s blessings are among us each day and we’re grateful. But sometimes we live in a busy world and we forget to stop and pause, so I think Thanksgiving day is that reminder we all need,” Burbidge said.  

For the Hickman family, this season is all about tradition. 

“It’s important to gather together to continue the tradition. Even if we’re not at the same table, we’re sharing in thankfulness which is what the mass is all about,” said Marjorie Hickman, Katie’s mother.  

The annual thanksgiving mass was held at Cathedral of Saint Thomas More.