Taking time to appreciate nature this Thanksgiving…
Bois de Vincennes – Paris, France
Well, today is the day… the day when most Americans will sit down to a delicious meal with a great big turkey as their main course. Even my expat friends from all over the world will be celebrating Thanksgiving either today or this weekend. However, this year we have decided to pardon ‘Tom the Turkey.’
No, I don’t go around naming all of the animals or vegetables I eat, nor am I crazy (Yes, I agree, that last part might be up for discussion). My point being, there was indeed a real ‘Tom the Turkey’ and he changed my life forever.
When I was five, my parents had an absolutely brilliant idea (at least they thought it was a brilliant idea at first). They decided that it was healthier to buy a fresh turkey as opposed to one of the frozen ones that they usually bought in the supermarket. What better way to get a healthy turkey than to go to a turkey farm? So, my parents, two brothers and one sister and I all jumped into the car rather excited to actually visit a farm.
We lived about 35 minutes from Manhattan and to be quite honest had never been to any kind of farm whatsoever. I was filled with excitement, but truly had no idea of the meaning behind all of this. All I knew was that we would see animals on the farm and for a five-year old with no pets, that’s rather cool, or so I thought.
When we arrived I couldn’t believe my eyes. Turkeys were walking around everywhere! My parents told us to check out the turkeys and pick one out while they talked to the people who worked on the farm. We of course did as we were told with huge smiles on our faces. We found the most beautiful one of all and gave him a name. This was the first time in our lives the four of us agreed on anything so quickly. Tom…it had to be Tom! (Sorry for all of you out there with the same name, but Tom the Turkey just kind of has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?)
Our parents headed in our direction, “Did you pick out a turkey?”
“Yes, isn’t he gorgeous? We named him Tom. Can we take him home now?” I was so proud!
This is the moment when I saw a strange look in the eyes of my parents, as they realized that perhaps they weren’t quite clear as to what we were actually doing there. Thus followed a ‘big’ discussion as to where our food comes from.
“You mean you’re going to kill him?” Tears rolled down my cheeks.
My brother asked, “You want us to EAT Tom?”
All four of us began to cry as each proclaimed never to eat Tom. He was our new pet, not our dinner! As our Mom tried to explain where all meat comes from, my mind began spin and my smile had long faded. I had never really thought about it before. How could I not have known this before? In an attempt to try to appease, us our parents bought a different turkey from that farm.
On Thanksgiving Day my Mom cooked the turkey, placed it on the table, and all four of us children looked at it unlike any other turkey before. I just sat there looking at this poor cooked turkey thinking that I would have been happy just to eat the mashed potatoes. Once again, tears rolled down my face. I couldn’t eat a thing. This was perhaps the quietest Thanksgiving dinner in the history of our family. None of us children would eat the turkey, let alone allow our Mom to put it in our dishes. We watched our parents eat as if it were a criminal offense. My poor well-meaning parents felt terrible. It was the first and last farm bought turkey they ever purchased. Once again, our parents tried to explain the food chain, and where all the meat we have eaten for years comes from and that this was no different.
However, for me, this couldn’t have been furthest from the truth. In fact, everything was different, and nothing would ever be the same. Something changed in me. Traumatized from this moment forward, I didn’t eat turkey or any other meat willingly until my early thirties. Yes, it took me that long to get over it!
As I said, I am indeed over the whole meat trauma and even enjoy eating meat today. So, why pardon ‘Tom the Turkey’ this year? I’d love to say that it was because I was traumatized as a child, because that would make for a good excuse. However, that wouldn’t even be close to the truth. The truth is actually embarrassingly pathetic. Although it is indeed possible to find all the fixings and a turkey, I just don’t have all of the extra energy it takes to put all of this together in Paris this year.
Even though we are pardoning Tom this year, my family and I will take this day, as we do each day, to be thankful for all we have. Life is a gift and each breath we take a blessing. We are indeed thankful to have each other, and I am thankful to be sharing this Thanksgiving with you via Internet. May your Thanksgivings be filled with happiness, love and wonderful stories around the table reminiscing.
Next year, I promise to make a delicious turkey… Although, there is one thing I am sure of – he won’t be named Tom.