Thanksgiving Memories


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.



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7 responses to “Thanksgiving Memories

  1. knitwonpurltoo

    Oh, Heide. I always thought it looked just like my family for that split second that we all were getting along and there were no catastrophes. That, plus the grandmother and grandfather at the head of the table? So, not my family. Where’s the wine? I loved your story about the turkeys at home. I was reading Jessie in Vermont and she said their turkeys were “pets only”. Your children’s memories will surprise you. They cherish things that you and I take for granted. Hugs to you and yours on this wonderful day of Thanksgiving!!!

  2. PICAdrienne

    I hope no rivers get in your way on the way to your folks place. Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. My grandpa raised turkeys one year too – he called one Lunch, and one Dinner. Nanny called them Tom and Jerry – we did eat them, but I wasn’t there enough to make them pets.
    My dad did bring home a chicken one day when I was nine (he found it running down the side of the road). He had full intentions of eating it, and called it Soup. I quickly adopted it and next thing he knew, he was building me a chicken coop and bringing home more chickens. We didn’t eat any of them.

    Hope you have a wonderful, non-stepford Thanksgiving with your family. Personally – I think a stepfordesque one would be boring!

  4. Roxie Matthews

    Lordy yes! A Stepford Thanksgiving! I didn’t know that domestic turkeys were such docile creatures. The wild ones I have known have occasionally beaten up the house cats. And you’d never get close enough to pet the snoods and wattles.

  5. Gillian

    What are we all missing here in England? I think most of us reserve the family crises for xmas.
    My local farm shop has turkeys running around and I’ve watched them growing since they were tiny, ugly critters so we are having roast beef on xmas day.
    Cheers Gillian

  6. What a lovely post. Holidays put the “fun” in dysfunction. Once you accept that, it’s easier to have a good time. 🙂

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