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Whittling Away Column: Thanksgiving

Written By Editor on 11/19/17 | 11/19/17

This is not a good time of the year to be a turkey.  I don’t know where or when the tradition of having turkey for the holidays started but I know it wasn’t the Pilgrims that started it.  They had venison, duck, goose, oysters and fish.  I’ve never seen a mention of turkey.  Turkeys weren’t as numerous as they are today and were about as wily as any wild creature can be.  Slim breasted and thin thighed, dressed out they didn’t yield as much protein as the average rotisserie chicken of today and yet one of our far distanced ancestors saw potential and started genetically modifying the critters.  The biggest males were mated with the biggest females and the process of creating today’s oversized bags of protein began.  They bred out the camouflage brown and replaced it with easy to see white.  The breast was developed until the bird took on the appearance of a nineteen fifties starlet  and they bred the intelligence out of the critter until it had the IQ of a loaf of white bread.  They raised millions of them and then dropped the price per pound just before the festive season so that price per pound of protein can’t be beat. 

This is not a good time of the year to be a turkey.  Being by nature carnivorous, it’s hard to pass up this large lump of dopamine, especially when it is packaged and labeled Butterball.  I am by nature a very kind hearted person and have a hard time killing any of God’s creatures but as a small child I swore that I would have no qualms about eating anything that would eat me.  Having been chased by a very large turkey that I swear had fangs on a neighbor’s farm when I was a youngster leaves me ready and willing to chomp down on any of that bird’s ancestors I come across.  The turkey has become the centerpiece of Thanksgiving.  It has been so for most of my family history.  There were turkeys for Christmas too but occasionally those were replaced by ham.  Thanksgiving always starred turkey, the bigger the better.  My father would pick out the Thanksgiving bird, usually the only time he did any grocery shopping.  He would get the largest bird he could find and pick up a gallon of Mogan David wine and his part of the feast was done.  Mom would stuff the bird into the old blue enameled roasting pan and pop it into the oven before breakfast and then spent the rest of the morning preparing the feast.  Around noon, the relatives would start to arrive, the uncles lugging six packs of Genesee and Utica Club, the aunts carrying bowls of their special contributions to the feast.  The kids went out to play, the Dads gathered in the living room with the six packs and the Moms bustled around the kitchen and dining room.  All preparations completed, the kids were called in and sat around the kids table, the Dads came in from the living room and took their place around the adults table.  The Moms served the kids table first then took their places at the big table and my father, unaccustomed to public speaking, gave a rather stiff grace and an accounting of all our blessings and then the feasting began.

May your house be filled with laughter and love on Thanksgiving and many happy memories stored away.  If your Thanksgiving is lonely, may you feast on the memories of Thanksgivings Past and may both your hearts and bellies be filled.
     Thought for the week—Be thankful that you’re not a turkey!
     Until next week, may you and yours be happy and well.

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