President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden arrive on Air Force One at Nantucket Memorial Airport, in Nantucket, Massachusetts, Tuesday, November 23, 2021. (CREDIT: CAROLYN KASTER / AP)

Bidens spend Thanksgiving in Nantucket

President Joe Biden and his family are spending Thanksgiving on Massachusett’s Nantucket island, in keeping with their annual tradition.

Mr. Biden arrived Tuesday evening, and will remain there through the holiday weekend. The Bidens have been staying on Nantucket for decades, a tradition that began when Mr. Biden was a senator. It was the first holiday he spent with his now-wife, Jill.

“For the first lady and me, Thanksgiving has always been a cherished time to enjoy annual traditions that have evolved into sacred rituals with our children and grandchildren:  throwing the football, preparing family recipes, lighting candles, and setting the table,” the president said in his Thanksgiving proclamation. “For many Americans, this Thanksgiving will be the first time gathering with loved ones in person since the start of the pandemic —  a time of full tables and full hearts. As we celebrate, we will also be thinking of the many families feeling the pain of an empty chair at the Thanksgiving table. You are not alone, and our Nation stands with you.”

The president is expected to largely stay out of the spotlight as he spends time with family and friends.

In Mr. Biden’s book “Promise Me, Dad,” he described the family tradition over the years, according to an excerpt in Nantucket magazine. He wrote that the “little trip in the Wagoneer grew into a caravan of two or three cars, with grandchildren shifting loyalties among the fleet at rest stops. Then there was the final mad dash to catch the ferry, and hot chocolate or clam chowder for the ride across the water.” Mr. Biden wrote that his grandchildren started calling it “Nanatucket.”

“We had some great years in that span, and we had some lousy years, but whatever was happening, whatever bumps and bruises we were suffering, we put it all aside and celebrated Thanksgiving in Nantucket,” Mr. Biden wrote. “The holiday trip was a constant in our grandchildren’s lives from the time they were aware, and they made it clear how much it meant to them.”

Mr. Biden wrote that his son, Beau, proposed to his wife Hallie at the tree lighting in 2001 and they were married at St. Mary’s church in downtown Nantucket. Mr. Biden also wrote that on the trip in 2014, his sons Beau and Hunter encouraged him to run for president in 2016.

“But it was the conviction and intensity in Beau’s voice that caught me off guard,” Mr. Biden wrote. “At one point he said it was my obligation to run, my duty. Duty was a word Beau Biden did not use lightly.”

Mr. Biden ultimately did not run for president that year and Beau Biden died of brain cancer in May 2015. The Bidens skipped their annual trip for Thanksgiving 2015 and instead going on a diplomatic trip to Croatia. The New York Times reported that Mr. Biden hoped “the change in scenery in a part of the world that does not celebrate Thanksgiving will allow the family to avoid the emotional pain that a long weekend in Nantucket might have brought.”

But they returned the following year at the urging of their grandchildren, Jill Biden said.

The holiday comes after Mr. Biden signed the infrastructure bill into law, his biggest legislative achievement yet.

But when Mr. Biden and Congress return, there will be much to do. The Build Back Better Act passed the House but faces significant hurdles in the Senate. After the Thanksgiving holiday, Congress will also have to grapple with the debt limit, which runs out December 15, and passing government spending legislation to avoid a partial government shutdown. And Congress typically pushes deadlines to the last minute.

Author: CBS NEWS
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