— Washington Holiday season has arrived at the White House.
After a rare wedding and the president’s 80th birthday, the White House began the holiday season on Monday with the traditional pardoning of Thanksgiving turkeys, the delivery of the official Christmas tree, and the serving of a Thanksgiving-style meal on a military installation.
The flurry of Christmas activity at the White House follows a busy weekend for President Biden and his family and comes after the president’s Democratic Party performed better than predicted in midterm elections earlier this month. The Democrats maintained control of the Senate, and although the Republicans would assume leadership of the House in January, their gains in that body were limited.
Mr. Biden and his wife, Jill, depart Washington on Tuesday to celebrate Thanksgiving with their family on the island of Nantucket, Massachusetts. On Saturday, they celebrated the wedding of their granddaughter, Naomi Biden, in the White House, followed by a birthday celebration for the president on Sunday.
Mr. Biden participated for the second time in the 75-year-old custom of dispensing a coveted presidential pardon to keep two turkeys off the Thanksgiving table.
“The ballots are in, they’ve been counted and certified,” Mr. Biden joked with typical dad humor as he welcomed the turkeys to the South Lawn before a gathering of hundreds. “No ballot stuffing occurs. There is no chicken play. Only if German Shepard Commander knocks over our cranberry sauce will there be a red wave this season.”
President Biden pardons Chocolate, the National Thanksgiving Turkey, on the South Lawn of the White House on November 21, 2022. Oliver Contreras/Sipa/Bloomberg sourced through Getty Images
He closed on a somber tone, urging Americans to have their COVID-19 vaccinations before the Christmas season and to “appreciate what we have.”
Mr. Biden stated, “This is a wonderful period in the greatest nation on Earth, so let’s be grateful.”
Gobblers Chocolate and Chip, each weighing about 50 pounds, came in Washington from North Carolina on Saturday night and booked into the Willard hotel near the White House in anticipation of Monday’s presidential edict.
Mr. Biden’s favorite flavor of ice cream is similarly a blend of chocolate and chips.
The birds were born in July in Monroe, North Carolina, according to the National Turkey Federation, the sponsor of the Thanksgiving turkey since 1947 and the administration of President Harry Truman.
Mr. Biden selected Chocolate as the winner and Chip as his runner-up. They were to spend the remainder of their lives on the North Carolina State University campus.
Jill Biden also contributed to the festive season by receiving delivery of the official White House Christmas tree. The 18-foot-tall Concolor fir planted on a farm in Pennsylvania, the state where the first lady grew up, will fill the Blue Room when a chandelier is temporarily removed to ensure the tree’s stability.
Volunteers began gathering at the White House on Monday to begin preparing it for Christmas, in accordance with a custom in which first ladies disclose the holiday theme following Thanksgiving.
This year’s Grand Champion Grower in the National Christmas Tree Association’s National Christmas tree event was awarded to Paul and Sharon Shealer of Auburn, Pennsylvania. The prize entitles the recipient to donate a Christmas tree to the White House.
The Shealers have presented a Christmas tree to the White House for the second time. In 2000, they received the association’s highest distinction and gift Hillary Clinton with a tree.
Mr. Biden and his wife were headed to Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point near the coast of North Carolina to partake in Friendsgiving, or a Thanksgiving-style dinner shared with military personnel and their families.
Joining Forces is a White House effort led by the first lady to encourage and promote the sacrifices and requirements of military families. The president has campaigned for and signed a number of initiatives to assist military personnel and veterans, including a bill to improve health care for people exposed to toxins from the burning of garbage in Iraq or Afghanistan or to chemicals used in prior battles.
Before his death from brain cancer in 2015, Beau Biden served in the Delaware Army National Guard, including a deployment in Iraq.