As Thanksgiving approaches, I’ve been thinking about past holidays. One came to mind from my first year teaching. In October of that year (we won’t mention the exact year), one of my student’s asked if I wanted to take a chance on a turkey for Thanksgiving. Since it was to support his 4-H club, I bought a few chances and forgot all about it.
Until the week before Thanksgiving when my student informed me I’d won the turkey. Okay. Cool. Totally unexpected, but still cool.
But then he asked me a question that threw me for a loop. “How do you want it dressed?”
“How do you want it dressed?”
My eyes had to be about as big as saucers at this point. I said, “You mean it’s alive?”
My student nodded.
Ruh-roh. Now, I grew up on a dairy farm, so I was no stranger to the process of culling animals for slaughter. But we didn’t have turkeys. Or chickens. Just cows. And we mostly milked them. Besides, I had no idea what the choices were for “dressing” a turkey, but I knew it had nothing to do with bread crumbs or stuffing.
And though I love a good steak or burger, pork loin or chicken breast, I was not a part of the butchering process. Not that I would be with my Tom Turkey either, but I just wasn’t sure about serving him up for Thanksgiving.
So, I told my student not to kill him.
“It’s going to happen whether you take him or not.”
Okay, I’d figure something out.
Fast forward to delivery day. The turkey was HUGE. I can’t remember the exact poundage, but it wouldn’t fit in a regular fridge without taking out all the shelves. I even had to ask the ladies in the cafeteria if I could put the turkey in the walk in freezer until I could take it home where I still had to figure out what to do with Tom since there was no way we could cook him in our regular sized oven.
Once I got home, my mom suggested taking it to the Rescue Mission. I didn’t know if they’d accept something that didn’t come from the store but rather fresh off the farm. I called to check and yes, they’d be glad to take it. So, I jumped in the car (I hadn’t taken Tom out yet) and drove to the mission. The lady who greeted me at the door was very thankful, even asking for my name so she could write me a receipt. I told her that wasn’t necessary.
Imagine my surprise on the day after Thanksgiving when the local paper posted a picture of Tom on the front page with a caption I can’t remember exactly, but denoted it was the turkey served at the Rescue Mission on Thanksgiving. It warmed my heart that everything had worked out for the best.
Well, unless you were Tom.
I didn’t get offered any chances on a turkey this year. In fact, I haven’t been solicited since the year I won Tom. Which is okay. Still, this year when I hear some people must choose between eating and heating, it hurts my heart. So, if you’re able and willing, when you’re grocery shopping for the holidays or even throughout the year, maybe considering purchasing some extra food items for those less fortunate. Some stores even accept monetary donations that benefit local food pantries. Our local supermarket has boxes for five dollars that can be purchased and the store will take care of donating the items locally.
Please join me in doing what we can for those who may be struggling. Let’s give them one less burden to carry.
Thanks!! And have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving.