From the point of view of the turkey population this could be one of their
best Thanksgivings in recent memory. It’s not clear whether memory is
located in their white meat or dark meat. The word in Turkeyland is that
unvaxed deniers cannot sit down with woke vaxers much to the relief of
the fowl community.
In any case I’m doing my part.
My plans include a dinner of virtual turkey with Google images of
cranberry sauce, digital stuffing topped off with fractals of pumpkin pie.
No gluttony and sloth. No gastro-intestinal reflux. And no decline in the
domesticated turkey population.
Turkeys are a much-maligned fowl. Their reputation for not being very
bright is probably because of their head size and propensity to stare up
into the rain, sometimes even drowning in the process. Give them a break.
It’s all because of their monocular vision which results in a tilt of the head
in order to focus.
They express all they have to say, both jubilation and trepidation with
what we hear as an undifferentiated gobble. My guess is there are gobbles
within the gobble beyond our acoustic acuity. In fact, only males gobble.
Females cackle and chirp. As in other species males swell their snood, that
piece of flesh hanging down from their beak, in the mating ritual. Those
male turkeys with erectile dysfunction are deemed good for nothing and
generally end up in the oven.
And why do we call them turkeys when they are native to North America,
I hear you ask. It’s a long story highlighted by European mistaken identity,
African imports of guinea hens and a bit of Greek mythology. The chances
are you’ll never be asked that question even on Jeopardy.
Turkey, the country, has nothing to do with it except that according to the
Treaty of Versailles, following W.W. I, The Ottoman Empire (centered in
Turkey) was carved up by the European imperialists. France and Great
Britain had a virtual food fight over who was to get Syria, Lebanon, Iraq,
Palestine etc… on their plate
The day has devolved into football games and Black Friday Eve as
consumers gather, full bellies and all, to storm the stores for the essentials
of life. Though I would imagine Jeff Bezos will be rubbing his hands together
as we flock to the Amazon website forgetting about gratitude for which the
day had been set aside.
There is nothing about the holiday more iconic than Norman
Rockwell’s image of the serving of turkey with four happy heads
on each side. Consider the notion that Rockwell, himself, so often
inserted in his own illustrations, is missing from this one. Maybe
he was not what we had thought. Rockwell evolved into his true self,
an outsider, an anti-Nixon Liberal, possibly a closeted
gay man who took all his vacations with his buddies and had disdain
for his own American myth.
As for dining alone on Thursday. I'm fine with it. I'm likely to get
gravy on my shirt anyway and I never know which fork to use. Like
Norman, my namesake, I’ll not be part of this year’s table signifying
the excesses of the American idyll.
Wait, I can't end on this sour note. Thanksgiving is actually my
favorite holiday; no flags and no religious fables. There is much to
be said about bringing together family and friends celebrating our
good fortune and each other. There is grace inside the word
gratitude. And that's amazing enough.