Each year as Thanksgiving rolls around childhood memories of “turkey farming” resurface. One year my dad decided that in addition to chickens, we would raise turkeys. His idea being that these birds would be for eating and not to keep as pets. Even though we had witnessed many a poultry execution in our younger years, it had been quite awhile since we’d done more than collect eggs from our hens. Because of this he was afraid that my sister, brother and I might get attached to them so he came up with a brilliant plan. Instead of naming them “Tom”, “Harry”, “Bob”, etc., he Christened them “Christmas”, “Thanksgiving,” “Easter” (with a few other random holidays thrown in the mix). Epic failure on the plan! It turned out that the turkeys were quite personable and fun to play with. Even the toms were nice and they’d follow us kids benignly around the yard hoping for handouts (the same couldn’t be said for their counterparts in the chicken world, to this day I harbor a fear and hatred for roosters, but that’s another story). Petting turkeys resulted in the most adorable clucking, gobbling and assorted noises. In addition to the delightful sounds the warty things on their heads were warm, smooth and soft to pet. Those warty things would change colors that ranged from blues and purples to bright red, and the wobbly thing hanging from their noses would change shapes. When you live in the middle of nowhere and only get three t.v. stations you’re easily entertained. Anyway, we loved those turkeys with the funny names. Sadly, several went to the chopping block one November day while we were at school. I cried all night and ate pb and j that Thanksgiving. Following that incident the rest of our turkeys were re-named and granted pardons to live out the remainder of their days in peace. One old hen even became a surrogate mother to a duck and a chicken… there again, another story.
Tomorrow we will load up our family and make the arduous drive to my parents’ house to enjoy Thanksgiving with Mom and Dad, Grandpa Porgy and any other friends and relatives who might happen along. I’m baking pies and rolls to contribute to the gluttony. My mom is cooking the turkey, courtesy of a grocery store, and all of the other trimmings. I can’t help but wonder what memories we’ll share 20 or 30 years down the road and which, if any, Thanksgiving will stick out from all the rest for my girls. Not every holiday can be worthy of a Normal Rockwell painting, but then again, I’ve always found this depiction of Thanksgiving to be unrealistically creepy… it’s like a Stepford holiday. In my mind, unless something is spilled, the power goes out, someone cries and three people want to drink heavily or hang out in the garage it just doesn’t seem like a genuine holiday. Maybe the discomforting, but realistic, idea that I’d never fit in with those perfect people in the painting is the root cause of my cynicism. I’ve never claimed to be “normal”, but at least I’m accepted in my own family unit. Sorry, I digress.
For all of my American friends, I hope that you enjoy a memorable celebration with loved ones tomorrow. No matter how quirky our families and friends may be, they will be missed when they’re gone. For others around the world, Namaste. I’m thankful you’ve all become part of my life.