Well, President Obama has pardoned this year’s turkey. I love the weird American-ness of this tradition. We pardon one turkey a year so that we can feel less guilty about eating millions of its cousins. As of this year, presidents have pardoned 23 turkeys. Not a lot in the greater scheme of things, but I imagine that something is better than nothing, and I’m sure the pardoned hostage certainly feels much better about it.

How did this serious business of the Presidential pardon begin? Americans have been sending the noblest and best turkeys to the White House since the 19th century. In 1947 the National Turkey Federation delivered a 47# monster. Probably enough turkey meat to feed the entire Congress. Imagine the stiff competition between turkey farmers to have their Tom or Thomasina chosen? I can just picture the midnight forays into the neighbor’s barnyard to spy on the sleeping livestock.

President Lincoln’s son Tad begged his father to offer a presidential pardon to the feathered gift. John F. Kennedy sent that year’s gift back “to grow a little”. President George H.W. Bush was the first to actually “pardon” the turkey, which has become the coveted hope of at least one turkey a year. President Obama announced that he was “going to eat this sucker”!

Unbeknownst to the general public, the dinner table athletes destined for the White House are chosen at a very young age. The overly nervous and misshapen ones are culled, and a select few are groomed and trained for their final appearance. Music is played, and the noise of people talking, laughing, clapping is broadcast constantly so that the turkeys won’t be spooked when brought in for their performance. Imagine the confusion a large live turkey could cause by leaping off the stage into a spectator’s lap! So just as show animals of any breed are trained, so too it the glorious White House turkey.

Our kindly and generous bird is ready to brave the heat of the oven, the pumpkin and apple pies and blackberry cobbler are waiting, and the house is sparkling. The children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are on their way, so we are ready to celebrate the importance of a day to be thankful for all we have been blessed with. May there be love and peace in your hearts.

Author: kaytisweetlandrasmussen83

I am a retired fine arts teacher, sculptor/painter, writer, and a native Californian. I love my family,dogs, horses, movies, reading and music, probably in that order. I have been married forever to a very nice man who is nice to old ladies, dogs and children.

9 thoughts on “PARDON MY GOBBLE”

  1. I am shocked and alarmed to learn that President Obama so readily resiled on his pledge. I hope the British Ambassador made a careful note. No, I refuse to believe it – it must have been a different bird. Though there is a history of Presidents killing off innocents like cherry trees.


    1. I’m very glad the turkey which graced my table made it past the review board, although he was quite a picture, I ate very little as it is not my favorite.†† Just in case we also had a very nice ham.† I am growing accustomed to the presidential “resile”.



  2. I’d never really thought about the need to train the bird not to “spook” in the midst of such hoopla. It makes perfect sense, of course. If only politicians could be so well trained.

    Our day was lovely, beginning with sunshine and relatively moderate temperatures in the 50s. The food was good and the company fine – I trust your day was equally pleasant, albeit with some higher temperatures!


    1. As in every normal American family, we had a few glitches—-Some were caught in heavy traffic Wednesday, which eliminated the dinner that night.† Another broke down in Gilroy so had to be rescued.† But dinner was great, and there were no “family fights”.† Absent members checked in by phone, thus ensuring a Christmas remembrance††† It’s all good!



  3. Thanksgiving here in Canada is long past, but I am especially thankful that all of the family is nearby and no one has to travel through storms to celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas or birthdays. Sometimes, though, I wish for a pardon from having to cook the turkey!


  4. Thank you for the history. I always wondered why the turkey featured on dining table fare around Christmas. I now learn it is actually around Thanksgiving day. Happy thanksgiving and say hello to the family (and the Turkey) from Australia.


    1. The house is quiet again without children turning summersaults in middle of floor, and begging for “Jingle Bells” on the guitar.† Not a good time for adult conversation with half the adults involved in cooking that turkey. and one or two running after the 19 month old one!† †But we’ll long remember all the fun and laughter.



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