- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 21, 2012

“Oysters on half shell, cream of chicken soup, fried smelts, sauce tartare, roast turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, baked squash, boiled onion, parsnip fritters, olives, chicken salad, venison pastry, pumpkin pie, mince pie, Charlotte russe, almond ice cream, lemon jelly, hickory nut cake, cheese, fruits, coffee.”

And so dictates the 1899 presidential Thanksgiving Day menu, as per “The White House Cook Book” by White House steward Hugo Ziemann and one Mrs. F.L. Gillette. The authors also had recommendations for breakfast on the big day: “grapes, oat flakes, broiled porterhouse steak, codfish balls, browned potatoes, buckwheat cakes, maple syrup, wheat bread and coffee.” And for supper after the big meal: “cold roast turkey, scalloped oysters, potato salad, cream short-cake, eclairs, preserved plums, tea.”

Now, 103 years later, the menu at the mansion is still a force to be reckoned with. On the Thanksgiving Day menu for President Obama, his family and friends: “multiple” thyme-roasted turkeys, gravy, honey baked ham, cornbread stuffing, oyster stuffing, macaroni and cheese, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, fresh kale salad, dinner rolls, pumpkin pie with honey meringue topping, apple pie, cherry pie, huckleberry/blueberry pie, sweet potato pie and banana creme pie.


“Above all other nations of the world, America has been especially blessed and should give special thanks. We have bountiful harvests, abundant freedoms, and a strong, compassionate people. I have always believed that this anointed land was set apart in an uncommon way, that a divine plan placed this great continent here between the oceans to be found by people from every corner of the Earth who had a special love of faith and freedom. Our pioneers asked that He would work His will in our daily lives so America would be a land of morality, fairness, and freedom.

“Today we have more to be thankful for than our pilgrim mothers and fathers who huddled on the edge of the New World that first Thanksgiving Day could ever dream. We should be grateful not only for our blessings, but for the courage and strength of our ancestors which enable us to enjoy the lives we do today.”

- (From President Reagan’s proclamation recognizing Thanksgiving Day, 1982.)


“At no time of year are Americans more mindful of our heritage as one Nation under God than at Thanksgiving — a day when people of every race, creed, and walk of life join in celebrating the many blessings that we have received as individuals and as a Nation. Thanksgiving is among the happiest of days because it fills our hearts with appreciation for the things that matter most: the goodness of our Creator, the love of family and friends, and, of course, the gift of life itself. In addition to giving thanks for our individual blessings, we Americans also join on this occasion in celebrating our shared legacy of freedom By remaining grateful for, and faithful to, that divine commission, America has become a model of freedom and justice to the world — as our pilgrim ancestors envisioned, a shining ‘city upon a hill.’”

- (From President George H.W. Bush’s proclamation recognizing Thanksgiving Day, 1992.)


“Let us renew our commitment to make our country and our world better. As we welcome new opportunities and face new challenges, we are thankful for the resolve and generosity of so many of our people who are touching countless hearts and souls through thoughtful acts of kindness. By answering the call to serve others, Americans are building a culture of service that strengthens our Nation. We also honor and salute the selfless sacrifice of the brave men and women of our Armed Forces who are defending our lives and liberty at home and abroad with skill, honor, and dedication.

“This Thanksgiving, we recognize the ties of friendship and respect that bind us together. And we renew our pledge to uphold the timeless principles of freedom, equality, and opportunity that have made our country into a great Nation. By working together, we will continue to build mutual trust, peace, and hope for all across this land and around the world.”

- (From President George W. Bush’s proclamation recognizing Thanksgiving Day, 2002.)


“Many Thanksgivings have offered opportunities to celebrate community during times of hardship Those expressions of unity still echo today, whether in the contributions that generations of Native Americans have made to our country, the Union our forebears fought so hard to preserve, or the providence that draws our families together this season.

“As we reflect on our proud heritage, let us also give thanks to those who honor it by giving back. This Thanksgiving, thousands of our men and women in uniform will sit down for a meal far from their loved ones and the comforts of home. We honor their service and sacrifice. We also show our appreciation to Americans who are serving in their communities, ensuring their neighbors have a hot meal and a place to stay. Their actions reflect our age-old belief that we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, and they affirm once more that we are a people who draw our deepest strength not from might or wealth, but from our bonds to each other.”

- (From President Obama’s proclamation recognizing Thanksgiving Day, 2012.)


For all the media fuss about intrusive bargain shopping on Thanksgiving Day and night, most Americans have not given in to the notion. Less than one-quarter — 23 percent — will abandon the family dinner table for the cash register, says a new Deloitte shoppers survey.

Of that group, 45 percent are night owls, heading to the retail realm from midnight to 5 a.m. Ninety percent go for the sales, they say, but 27 percent also say they seek “excitement,” and a quarter simply enjoy the experience.


• 88 percent of Americans prefer roast turkey on Thanksgiving, 9 percent smoked or deep fried turkey.

• 74 percent of men say they help in the kitchen on Thanksgiving, 46 percent of women agree with that.

• 68 percent overall say “being with family” is the “best part” of Thanksgiving; 53 percent of respondents to the multichoice question also cited food; 11 percent “cocktails and booze.”

• 56 percent say their stuffing recipe has been handed down over generations, 51 percent say the same of their pie recipes.

• 46 percent say none of their family members annoys them; 15 percent say their in-laws get on their nerves, 11 percent cited siblings.

• 44 percent say pumpkin is their favorite pie, 21 percent cited apple, 13 percent pecan pie, 12 percent sweet potato pie.

Source: A Destination America/Nielsen poll of 700 U.S. adults surveyed Oct. 25 to 27 and released Wednesday.

Have a happy Thanksgiving Day, and thank you for reading Inside the Beltway.

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