How the Obamas Celebrate Thanksgiving: A Brief History of Holiday Wishes From Barack, Michelle and the Girls

Stav Ziv

The Obamas may no longer inhabit the White House, but they are still wishing Americans everywhere a happy Thanksgiving “full of joy and gratitude.” Former President Barack Obama tweeted the greetings Thursday morning with a picture of himself with Michelle, Malia and Sasha in a warm family embrace with smiles all around.


It’s an all-grown-up version of a photograph Obama posted for Thanksgiving five years ago, about two weeks after he was elected for a second term. That image, in black and white, was a throwback to a time when the two first daughters were small enough to sit on their parents’ laps, with bows in their hair and Malia showing off her missing teeth in a wide grin.

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In 2016, shortly after the most recent presidential election that saw Donald Trump chosen as Obama’s successor, the first lady shared another old family photograph for Thanksgiving. “Today and every day we have a lot to be thankful for. From our family to yours - Happy Thanksgiving,” she wrote, according to her archived FLOTUS account.


The 44th president began sharing Thanksgiving wishes from the Obamas' on Twitter during his first year in office. “From my family to yours — Happy Thanksgiving,” he wrote in 2009. The following year, he wrote: “As Americans gather for Thanksgiving, let us rejoice in the abundance that graces our tables and in the loved ones who enrich our lives.”



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In 2011, he posed a question: “We've accomplished a lot together over the past three years. This Thanksgiving, what are you most thankful for?” The tweet linked to an Organizing for Action survey that asked for stories of thanks. “From ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell’ to ending the war in Iraq, what progress from the last three years are you most thankful for?”


Two years later, in 2013, he encouraged parents to talk to take the opportunity to talk to their children about health insurance over Thanksgiving.


Starting that same year, the first lady tweeted about her gratitude to immigration reform advocates and military service members and their families. Her husband followed suit in his 2015 wishes.


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In his last Thanksgiving in office, perhaps reflecting on the final days of his presidency, Barack Obama wrote that “this Thanksgiving, we give thanks for our blessings, and work to fulfill the timeless responsibility we have as Americans to serve others.”


There was surely one thing missing from the Obamas' post-White House Thanksgiving: the annual turkey pardon. Though Malia and Sasha may have been grateful for it, one has to wonder if their father missed what is arguably the silliest presidential tradition, one where he could unleash his "corny-copia of dad jokes about turkeys." 

But who knows? Maybe the tradition has continued. As Obama said at last year's ceremony: "What I haven't told them yet is we are going to do this every year from now on. No cameras, just us, every year. No way I'm cutting this habit cold turkey."

11_23_Obamas_Thanksgiving

U.S. President Barack Obama stands after he pardoned 'Cheese' and his alternate Mac (not shown,) both 20-week old 48-pound Turkeys, as his daughters Sasha and Malia and Cole Cooper and his father National Turkey Federation Chairman Gary Cooper during a ceremony at the White House November 26, 2014 in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson/Getty Images

This article was first written by Newsweek

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