I received an awesome Thanksgiving card in the mail a couple of days ago. 'Who sends out Thanksgiving cards?' you may well ask...Well, it is the one and only Lisa Paskins. She is one of my very faithful visiting teachers, a blogging buddy, a good friend and an extreme sender of cards.
On the front of the card it says, "You know you are a redneck..." and on the inside it finishes, "If you have to choose which pet to eat for Thanksgiving." Lisa thought this was funny because we have both eaten goat meat. But I have been thinking about it beyond that experience to another random childhood memory.
Jim and I named pretty much every animal on our property (except for chickens, there were just too many chickens). All of our sheep had funny names. Jim was a good animal namer and his names reflected the personality of the pet. We had loads of dogs and cats (see previous blogpost about some pretty snazzy cat names). We had ducks, pigs, goats, horses and cows that were named too and one year we had a turkey...
That is where this story begins. Mom and Dad picked out a young turkey sometime in May or June of 1970 and warnings were issued that it was to be the main course of our Thanksgiving feast that year. The warnings included the admonition to NOT name the bird because we were going to EAT him in a few months. But telling a couple of little kids (we were 8 and 5 that year) that they were not to grow attached to a new animal which we fed and watered every day was fairly pointless. Of course we didn't play with the turkey, he was in a wooden pen with a roof over it, but we would reach through the slats and pet his silky feathers and even though he had a homely face, his plumage was beautiful and we grew fond of him and started calling him Tom.
Tom grew larger and plumper each month through the summer and fall. Each day, Jim and I would tell Mom that we didn't want to eat turkey for Thanksgiving. We were happy to have mashed potatoes, stuffing, yams, and all the other stuff, but there was no need to kill Tom. Jim and I would counsel together about how effective our persuasive arguments were. We were actually feeling quite confident going into the week of Thanksgiving. No one had made any more threats about slaughtering our bird and we had ramped up our efforts to stay his execution indefinitely. Thanksgiving Eve came and Tom was still strutting around in his wooden pen at evening chore time. If Jim and I knew what 'high fives' were, we certainly would have been slapping them all over the place that night.
The next morning, my Mom was up early peeling potatoes and rolling out pie dough when I got up to do morning chores. She didn't say much more than 'good morning' as I headed out the door. In the early morning gloom, I saw something strewn across the frosty ground as I headed towards the corrals. As I drew closer, I realized it was feathers. Lots of feathers. Turkey feathers. I rushed to Tom's pen where the lid-like roof was leaning against the side and no one was home.
I rushed back to the house, slamming the back door as I demanded to know what had happened. Mom explained that Dad waited until Jim and I were asleep last night to butcher the turkey. She plucked and cleaned him and had him roasting in the oven.
I don't remember too many details of most Thanksgiving feasts, but that one is crystal clear because both my brother and I refused any turkey and were extremely morose during the entire meal and rest of that day. In fact, we may have drug the sullenness on for several more days, I don't recall how many. But one thing I know for sure is our parents never bought a live turkey again. Of all the animals we raised when I was a kid, we only had one turkey and his name was Tom.