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November 15, 2012

At a White House Thanksgiving, tradition is a presidential thing

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

One can only assume the unpretentious first lady might have approved of the lack of fussiness expressed by the humble saltine crackers that accompanied some of FDR's Thanksgiving dinners or the Obamas' macaroni and cheese. (Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of President Bill Clinton, was a mac-and-cheese fan as well. But when the Clintons arrived at the White House, she insisted on the boxed, store-bought kind, Scheib says.)

Holiday meals are "very personal," he says. "In most cases they have their roots back in the childhood home." So when the Clintons asked for a black cherry and Coca-Cola Jell-o mold with (egad!) canned black cherries, Scheib complied. He knew it evoked another, simpler time for them. He prepared it, though he considered that particular menu item outdated: "like something out of Sunset magazine or McCall's or Redbook."

The day after the Clintons' first Thanksgiving, Scheib heard from the first lady. "Where is the leftover turkey and cranberry sauce?" she asked.

The first family eating leftovers? No way, he thought. He had already served the leftovers to White House staffers.

"We ended up creating leftovers out of fresh stuff," he says.

Tradition was served.

---

Post researcher Alice Crites contributed to this report.

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