President Obama pardoned his final Thanksgiving turkey. The turkey seemed very excited. (  / Reuters)

Dear Presidential Turkey Tot,

Welcome to Washington.

First, we’d like to apologize. You were born in July 2016, which means you’ve lived through the longest five months of American history.

You came into this world just as the national conventions were getting underway. We understand that CNN was broadcasting nonstop in your stately Iowa coop, so you got a crash course in such unique American phenomena as superdelegates, patriotic elephant hats and Stephen Baldwin.

They tell us that you stress-ate your way through all three presidential debates and that when you heard the words “nasty woman,” you almost choked on a soybean. We know. Those were stressful nights for all of us. But on the upside, nobody does a better “Clinton shimmy” impression than you, dear bird.

You have your own Twitter feed, which is great and awful, just as it is for the rest of us. We’re so glad that you got to stay connected, pecking your way through a very different kind of feed from the ones your ancestors enjoyed. But your caretakers say that ever since that Billy Bush video dropped in October, you’ve become kind of obsessive. Yes, there is a new scandal breaking every 10 minutes, but you’ve got to live your life, Tot. You of all turkeys should know that.

Anyway, we’re glad you made the trip and hope your Secret Service escort treated you well. We get that this whole thing is kind of ludicrous. Last year President Obama even admitted as much, saying, “I know some folks think this tradition is a little silly. I do not disagree.”

Fine. But you know what? We really needed some inanity this year. The harmless kind, where we all stand around and watch the most powerful person on Earth make nice with an oversize bird. And, Tot, we’re glad you were that bird.

You looked so regal up there. But also weary.

Kinda like Obama, no? The president actually seemed a little wistful at the thought that this would be his final turkey pardon. Or maybe it won’t be. He mentioned that he’d told his daughters, “We are gonna do this every year from now on. No cameras, just us. No way I’m cutting this habit cold turkey.”

Good one, President Dad.

Of course, there was more where that came from. “I want to take a moment to recognize the brave turkeys that weren’t so lucky, who didn’t get to ride the gravy train to freedom,” Obama said from the Rose Garden. “Who met their fate with courage and sacrifice and proved that they weren’t chicken.”

Sometimes people give Abraham Lincoln or Harry Truman credit for starting this whole turkey pardon thing. And certainly John F. Kennedy said, “Let’s keep this one going” after he was given a turkey with a sign around its neck that said “Good eating, Mr. President!”

But you know who really ensconced this tradition? George H.W. Bush, less than 30 years ago. Why does everything about the Bush era now seem kind of wholesome and sweet? We’re not sure. But perhaps W. can paint your portrait in watercolors after you leave.

We know you’re worried about the future of the turkey pardon under the new administration. Listen, there are a lot of unknowns. Will Stephen K. Bannon wear cargo shorts in the West Wing? Will the presidential seal be replaced with a Trump logo? And are the White House Mess taco bowls up to snuff? We just don’t have answers right now.

Like you, we’ve heard how much the Trump sons like hunting. But we promise, your cousins will not be used for target practice on the South Lawn. They might need to take their pardon in Mar-a-Lago next year. But who doesn’t love the beach in November?

And yes, we know the sad statistics that say you probably won’t live more than a year or so after this. But we also know that’s a lot longer than your comrades who already made their way up the conveyor belt of doom. And we know that your brother, Tater, came along as an understudy, because there was such a high risk of your croaking before you even made it to the podium. (As the PETA folks have made clear, you guys aren’t exactly bred for longevity.)

All the polling had indicated that Tater would be elected the official presidential turkey, but last-minute Twitter voting put you, Tot, on top. Which is fitting. It’s a year of upsets.

But the good news is that you’re both still with us. And when you leave here, you’re headed for an all-expenses-paid permanent vacation to bucolic Blacksburg, Va. The fine folks at Virginia Tech are ready to welcome you with open arms. And — get this — a guy named Rami Dalloul, whose official bio describes him as a “world-renowned poultry immunologist,” is your new guardian. He sequenced the turkey genome, and now he’s taking care of you!

Just imagine — a place with no Twitter, Trump, Tapper or Tinder. They call your new home “Gobbler’s Rest.” But you can call it heaven.

So, I guess what we’re really trying to say is: Take us with you?


Your friends in Washington