Thanksgiving is closing in on us. The turkey is resting in the freezer, and I know I’ll soon be busy making the stuffing for it and then preparing the sweet potatoes early that morning, but I also know it will be different this year.
I just thought last year was different because it was the first time we celebrated that feast in someone else’s house. One of my daughters volunteered her home because they had a nice new large family room. Looking over the grandkids who take up a lot more space than they used to, I knew it was an idea whose time had come.
The day went well, and I gracefully and gratefully retired from the position of Thanksgiving hostess, passing that mantle and most of the responsibility to my daughter.
Bill and I spent that day remembering past Thanksgivings. I remembered when one of our younger sons noticed the picked clean turkey carcass after the meal. He was just past 4 years old, and he seemed quite fascinated by the sight. Finally he asked, “What’s that?”
His older brother quickly answered, “the carcass”.
The younger one looked puzzled and said, “Huh?”
Big brother quickly responded, “It’s the bird’s skeleton.” So that’s what it was called for many years around our house.
I remembered that when the weather was nice we would take a long walk down the railroad tracks, up through an old alley, then around the rest of the block collecting assorted rocks and sticks along the way. “We” included most of the grandkids and a few female adults who figured out that while they walked, somebody else cleaned up the dinner mess.
That many youngsters with a few chaperones out walking on a holiday was almost enough to stop traffic. It’s a wonder we didn’t have to have a parade permit. We would all smile and wave at the passersby, and they would honk their horns and wave back.
One time when I was just a little kid, my dad got a Thanksgiving bonus in late October. His boss thought it was a great idea to give each employee a live turkey to fatten up for their Thanksgiving dinner.
In no time at all, Tom, our turkey became a household pet. We put him in the garage, but when it got cold we insisted Tom must come inside. My mom was a real softie when it came to pets, so she convinced my dad that the bird would grow better if we kept it in the basement. We did, and my brothers and I fed the bird daily and enjoyed its company.
Daddy took the bird to work one day and shortly thereafter a turkey was delivered from the butcher shop, all ready to roast for Thanksgiving dinner. Dad finally told us that Tom would be our Thanksgiving dinner.
My brothers, my mother and I simply could not eat our pet. Dad made a big show of chowing down and explaining that’s how it was in the real world. For several weeks thereafter Dad took turkey sandwiches to work to eat for lunch.
Years later I found out that he never ate a one of them. Instead he traded them to coworkers for such gourmet foods as peanut butter sandwiches. Guess my dad had a problem swallowing Tom, our pet turkey, too.
We remembered the procession of little boys over the years who expressed a desire for a big turkey drumstick, and we remembered their big eyes when their dream came true. None of them ever managed to “eat the whole thing,” a fact that that our succession of pet cats truly appreciated.
After reminiscing a bit, I know that this Thanksgiving will repeat the past in many ways, but as I said before, I also know it will be very different. Bill won’t be here. He is gone. But we have many years of happy Thanksgiving memories, and in that way he will be with us forever.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This column was first published in the Daily Advocate Nov. 15, 2006.
Kathleen Floyd is a volunteer citizen columnist, who serves The Daily Advocate readers weekly with her column Back Around the House II. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.