The turkey tales I have to tell don’t resemble the beautiful turkey in this picture, but they do hold a special spot in my heart. The first, because it was the first turkey I ever tried to cook––two months after my wedding day. The second because it was my son’s turkey––placed in my freezer without my knowledge. I have many precious memories to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day. “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” Psalm 107:1 (NIV) As the years pass,
I realize that it is a blessing to be able to remember. These two turkey tales weren’t funny at the time, but I can’t help but chuckle each time I remember them now. After many years of eating turkey, I suddenly developed an allergy to the bird. I don’t look forward to turkey on Thanksgiving now––unless I want to look like Frankenstein or meet the Lord face to face. After two reactions, it was certain I had an allergy to turkey. I don’t want to have those encounters with turkeys again. But, I’ve also had other encounters with turkeys.
I now have experience cooking turkeys, but as a new bride I didn’t. I looked forward to cooking my first Thanksgiving dinner that year. Far away from our hometown, we celebrated alone but not as we planned. My husband was in the Air Force, and we lived in Las Vegas, Nevada. Now you may think that was glamorous, but it wasn’t. We lived on an airman’s salary and buying a turkey was a big expense for the special day. We got up early, and together we made the stuffing, packed it in the bird and shoved it in the oven. After a few hours, we checked the bird. We thought it strange that there was no wonderful aroma coming from the oven, and looking at it––well, it was still raw. Two hours more should do it––we reasoned. We closed the oven door and waited.
The table looked lovely with my wedding gifts of silver, crystal, and candlesticks placed on the perfectly pressed tablecloth. The potatoes were cooking, and the red cranberry sauce contrasted the green linen tablecloth––my decorating skills were developing. If only that turkey would cooperate. It didn’t. After nine hours in the oven, it was tough and still not cooked. We were so disappointed that we took that bird for a long drive in the Nevada desert and threw it out of the convertible we were driving. Good riddens! Did we ever know what happened? Never! But, I can tell you that story has been told over and over and usually it sounds as though the cook messed up. I will never agree––it must have been the oven! My first turkey–tough and uncooked! That bird still haunts me today––every time its story is told. FYI, every turkey I’ve baked since has exited my oven thoroughly cooked and delicious!
The second turkey tale involves our son. We were new missionaries on the field and had just purchased a freezer, a big deal in those days–30 years ago. We had chickens in the freezer, and at this point in my life I had learned to cook. But, cooking in Bolivia is different. Because of the altitude, everything takes longer to cook. I took the bird out of the freezer, thawed it, and put it in a pot to boil. I checked that bird every hour, and every hour it seemed less cooked than more. Memories of that first turkey were still haunting me. I wondered what this bird had against me. After six hours in the pot––you guessed it––it met its fate in the mountains of Bolivia. But, this story has an ending that was resolved.
Our son had gone hunting and killed a wild turkey. Wild Bolivian turkeys are the same size as chickens. He never told me the turkey was in our freezer. And, I didn’t know it was a wild turkey or the secrets of cooking this exotic Bolivian bird. But, I did find out why that so-called chicken never cooked––because it wasn’t a chicken at all. Unlike the Nevada turkey, I do have an excuse for the Bolivian turkey. I hope your turkey isn’t a repeat of my turkey tales this Thanksgiving. It wasn’t funny at the time, but they are good, funny memories now. We have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving Day. Good and funny memories are a blessing to be thankful for too. Happy Thanksgiving! Hope you make some good turkey tales on this special day––especially funny ones.