Don’t Let the Turkey Die!

The Next Family

By: Tosha Woronov

Thanksgiving is upon us. I love it. A holiday centered around comfort food, and no gifts to buy save for a decent bottle of wine.

Thanksgiving is also a time for little kindergarteners all around the country to learn the meaning of gratitude, and also how to share with a pilgrim.

But I want to know who came up with the stellar idea to humanize the turkey. Tom Turkey and gobble gobble and a tiny black hat on a beautiful, fat, smiling turkey with rainbow-colored feathers and big happy eyes. Who taught children to lay their hand flat on paper, trace around it, add a wattle, color in the fingers, give it a big shit-eating grin? Voila! You made a turkey! Isn’t that cute? Who decided plush turkeys would be nice –scattered throughout the Thanksgiving books in the children’s section of Barnes and Noble? Let’s show how really f-ing cute turkeys can be! Here, kid, take this fluffy turkey home with you, christen it a silly, implausible name, sleep with it. In a few weeks, your dad will rip out his insides and roast him in the OVEN! Delicious!

Just before lights out tonight Leo asked what our plans were for Thanksgiving. (He’s like me; he needs to know what’s up.) I told him our plans to go to his cousin Zach’s and that his “Aunt” Julie, not Daddy, would make the turkey this year.

And then all hell broke loose.

We can’t eat the turkey!! (tears) No! I will NOT eat the turkey! (more tears) I don’t want him to die! (huge tears) He can’t DIE!!! (uncontrollable tears) YOU better not eat it either! (pissed-off tears)

Vegans, veggies, animal rights activists – yes, this is your moment to smirk. I get it. The moment is not lost on me. But my kid doesn’t eat much. He loves his animal proteins and sorry – if I could get him to eat seitan and black beans, I would. So this realization of his is unfortunate, or let’s just say, untimely.

He does not eat mashed potatoes. He only eats his green beans raw. He’d rather die than try stuffing. He does not understand at all how we can call pumpkin pie “dessert”. Yes, he’ll have to get over it and become a more adventurous eater. But not on Thanksgiving. My favorite holiday. I don’t want to deal with this now. I want him, dressed in his “handsome” clothes, to sit down and eat the turkey and the biscuits (I’ll sneak him a few raw carrots and green beans), and enjoy himself, so mama can enjoy herself and the wine she brought.

I vacillated about telling him, “you know, Peanut, bacon comes from pigs – cute fat pigs, and steak comes from cows, which we adore –adorable cows.” But then again, he knows this already. (In fact, he happily ate a turkey sandwich for lunch today.)

No, it’s the lethal (ha!) combination of learning – kindergarten-style – about Thanksgiving and the cute-ifying of that holiday’s emblematic dish that has caused this problem. We don’t dress up pigs or glue googly eyes onto geese before Christmas and we sure as hell don’t eat elves (I hope to fuck not!).

I did end up telling him, because I’m a horrible mother and it was late and the crying was going on too long and because I would never, ever actually kill a turkey myself (which he seemed to think I was intending to do): “The turkey’s already dead, babe.” Yep, lots and lots of dead turkeys in the grocery store. In all the grocery stores. In all the cities. All over the country. Dead turkeys everywhere.

I’m thinking about teaching him this “traditional” holiday song (??), which I found online. (I want to spend Thanksgiving with the crazy-happy family that belts this out each year.) I figure by singing this with him everyday for the next 3 weeks I can undo some of the damage done by his school and the damn retail industry. (Foster the kid’s teeny weeny wicked side.)

O turkey dear
O turkey dear
How lovely are thy feathers

O turkey dear
O turkey dear
There could be nothing better!

We celebrate Thanksgiving Day
By putting your carcass on display.

O turkey dear
O turkey dear
You thought we were friends who came to greet you

O turkey dear
O turkey dear
We gathered here to eat you!

(There’s more but it gets even weirder – too much so even for me.)

In closing, I have a big favor to ask:

Mr. President, I know you have way too much going on, and it really sucks having just lost control of the House and all, but would you mind pardoning two turkeys this year? We are no longer allowed to eat ours, anyway.

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