Thanksgiving and turkey seem to go hand in hand. My thanksgiving story involves not one but two turkeys or were they turkeys at all?
The setting for this thanksgiving story was West Texas in the late 1970s. I was divorced with two young boys and no family for 1000s of miles. It was going to be a difficult Thanksgiving Day for myself as our family always filled the day with family togetherness and lots of food.
My sons were two and four. Just old enough to know a bit about Thanksgiving Day. At the day care they made colorful turkeys from paper plates and construction paper. They came home with turkey drawings made by tracing around their hand and lots of Thanksgiving stories.
It was a few days before the Thanksgiving Day Holiday when the questions began, “Mom when are we getting our turkey?” and “Mom are we getting our thanksgiving turkey today”?
I didn’t know what to say. I had checked at several grocery stores in the area and the smallest turkey I found was over 15 pounds. Enough turkey to feed myself and boys for a month. It would go bad before we could eat all the thanksgiving leftovers.
Wednesday after work I picked the boys up at the daycare as usual and then stopped at the grocery store still not sure what I was going to do about our Thanksgiving Day dinner. It was my four-year-old shouting from next to a freezer case in the meat department that solved my dilemma.
“Mom, I found the turkey. We have to have a turkey Mom. Here they are!”.
As I walked towards him I tried to quickly come up with an excuse not to purchase the twenty pound turkey I was sure he had spotted. I came up with nothing! My excited son was wide-eyed with excitement jumping up to see inside the freezer case.
When I was close enough to see in myself I almost cried. My son had solved the problem. In the meat case were not ‘turkeys’ but Cornish hens. He had seen packaged turkeys on television and in his eyes these birds were in fact thanksgiving turkeys.
Two Cornish hens were perfect for our Thanksgiving Day dinner and I went all out with stuffing, fruit salad, dinner roles, mashed potatoes and gravy with pumpkin pie for desert. Phone calls from Grandparents in Michigan and California provided some family togetherness.
My boys had their thanksgiving turkey – not one but two turkeys. Monday afternoon when I again picked the boys up from school I learned the ‘error’ of my ways. The boys, particularly the oldest, had bragged all day about our having two turkeys for thanksgiving dinner.
The director of the daycare meet me in the hallway to tell me about my son telling this ‘lie’ all day. She knew we had no family in town and I had told her the week before we weren’t going to have turkey. I quickly explained about the Cornish hens. I had not told the boys they were not turkeys.
Truth is, I lied! All weekend I had referred to the ‘hens’ as turkeys. The most difficult moment of my life was when I faced my innocent son in his classroom. He ran to me yelling, “Mom tell the teacher we had two turkeys for thanksgiving”.
I sat down in a nearby chair and pulled him close to me. I tried to explain the difference between the Cornish hens and turkeys but he was not listening. My darling son looked at me with disgust, because of me he had lied and he was not forgiving me.
That day I learned a very important lesson. A lie is a lie no matter how big or small and even the smallest of lies can cause horrid results. The next Thanksgiving the boys and I went home to Michigan and we had real turkey.
While most people in the United States associate Thanksgiving stories to football games, parades, or eating too much I will always remember the look on my oldest son’s face when I confessed my lie.