I’d like to introduce you to our turkey, born almost twenty years ago in Oklahoma. He’s looking worn around the edges and the middle. As you can see, he’s experienced better days.
Born into an impoverished life, this turkey brightened one or two Thanksgivings in spite of his motley appearance and bedraggled state.
This multi-kid-crafted guy sat on the kitchen table for the month of November, or part of the month if I remembered too late. Scraps of paper and a pencil or pen sat nearby for scribbling down a daily something each of us in the family felt grateful for. Inconsistent at best, we all threw in a few thoughts during the month. Running up to the actual day of thanks we might’ve thrown in a few extra to make up for what we didn’t contribute during the busy month preceding.
Then sometime during the day, that fourth Thursday in November, we’d reach in to the turkey’s cavernous gallon sized innards and pull out those scraps of paper. And someone would read what our family felt counted as blessings, gratitudes, good things. We’d have a few brief moments of thoughtful gratitude or laughter and then get on to the pie or leftovers.
Some of those scraps I’ve saved all these years in the cardboard box labeled Thanksgiving decor. Every year when I pull out that box and set out my little scarecrows, faux fall leaves, and wicker pumpkins, I think about finally setting this poor old turkey free. But I can’t make myself do it. Sure, he’s too scraggly and chintzy to set out as a decoration, so he stays in the box. He long ago exceeded his usefulness and cuteness. But memories hover in and on and around the fowl little guy. How do I let him go?
Maybe this can count as a memorial of that brief span that our homemade turkey spent time on the table reminding us of the blessed life we lived. Especially since that life, at times, seemed held together by paper bits and cardboard tubes and empty milk cartons. Sometimes life still feels that way, taped and glued together, barely holding on, scrunched and crumpled and not so magnificent as in other, better days.
How do you let go of symbols? At what point can you say goodbye and let that be good enough?You’d think it’d be easy to toss this barely recognizable turkey. But nope. Can’t quite do it.
Maybe it just isn’t time to say adieu. Not yet. Not this year. Maybe next November.
I’ll try to remember to set him out on the kitchen table next year, albeit rougher and scrunchier. And then, I’ll set some scraps of paper nearby and a pencil. I’ll toss in my gratitude, and ask MSH to do the same, and visitors, too. And then, after reading all those scraps on Thanksgiving day, maybe then, I can let him go.