HOLLENBECK: Even turkeys have something to be grateful for at Thanksgiving
For several years the Courier has included in its Thanksgiving edition comments from local residents telling what they are most thankful for in this season in which we emphasize our blessings.
This year the focus was on school children, who certainly shared some interesting thoughts. You expect them to say, "I'm thankful for my my mamma, my daddy, my dog, my cat, my grandma, my grandpa, my house ... "
On and on and so forth.
Kids can surprise you, though. One little boy's answer was a real zinger. He said he was thankful "for calendars."
No explanation was given, but I would assume there's some big event out there in store for him and he's marking off the days/weeks/months till it arrives. (That's strictly my guess. He may just have a thing for calendars.)
Several children expressed thanks for their siblings. I'm not sure my children at that age would have publicly acknowledged gratitude for their brothers/sister, but then kids can surprise you.
In the Courier grouping, a twin set each expressed thanks for the other sister. I found that admirable.
On the White House scene, there are two birds that should be giving thanks for being "spared," in accord with tradition.
Cobbler and Gobbler, two 19-week-old, 40-pound birds will get to live out their lives as just plain turkeys. Elementary school students in Rockingham County, Virginia, the native area of the turkeys, chose the names for the official White House Thanksgiving turkeys.
While only one of the turkeys is recognized as the National Thanksgiving Turkey – chosen for the first time by the American public through an online contest this year – the president traditionally pardons both turkeys, one serving as an alternate.
"If for some reason Cobbler cannot fulfill his duties as the official White House Turkey, Gobbler will be waiting in the wings," President Barack Obama said.
With the turkeys gobbling away nearby, Obama teased about new beginnings.
"They say that life is all about second chances, and this November I could not agree more," he said, joking about his re-election. "So in the spirit of the season, I have one more gift to give and it goes to a pair of turkeys."
Following the pardoning, the turkeys were to be taken to George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens, where the winning turkey will be on display for visitors during "Christmas at Mount Vernon." They were to stay on the property after the holidays.
The birds reportedly grew up on a farm near Harrisonburg, Va., under National Turkey Federation Chairman Steve Willardsen's supervision.
The White House had staged an election on Facebook to choose between the two turkeys. The competition pitted Gobbler, described as "patient but proud, "against Cobbler, slightly smaller, and the ultimate choice. Cobbler reportedly has a favorite song, "You’re So Vain." (Go figure.)
Both the birds traveled in a police-escorted motorcade from their birthplace in Rockingham County to Washington and then spent two nights at the swank W Hotel.
The winning turkey took part in the official pardoning ceremony with the president, but both will live out their days free from the threat of carving knives at Mount Vernon.
This year marks the 65th anniversary of the turkey presentation. No one seems certain as to which president started it, but it is a nice thing, regardless of who originated it.
Concluding his comments, the president gave one final blessing to the top turkey.
"You are hereby pardoned. Congratulations, Cobbler," the president said. "You'll have a great life."
I've never been on close terms with a turkey, but I'd be proud to know either Gobbler or Cobbler.
Hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving.
Lynda Hollenbeck is senior editor of The Saline Courier.