Turkey for everyone
By John Gray
*The following story is true. The names have been changed to protect the guilty.
It was a chilly November morning in Troy. The leaves had already performed that magic trick where they turn from green to gold and released their grip from the trees. Geese could be heard overhead flying south and the smell of turkey and stuffing filled the air. It was Thanksgiving morning, and all over America families were keeping themselves busy in the kitchen preparing the day’s feast.
The Smith family of Troy had a problem. It was their dog Spot. You see, Spot liked turkey almost as much as he liked chasing cats and squirrels and well, it was clear he was not going to behave himself when the guests arrived. It’s hard to enjoy dinner with a dog putting his head on your lap looking at you with those sad eyes so Mary and John Smith opened the back door and shooed him away.
Problem solved, or so they thought. The family gathered around the dinner table, candles lit, hands joined together to say Grace. It was then they heard scratching at the back door. It was Spot. It wasn’t like him to come back so soon. Normally when they put him out he stayed out for hours. But there he was scratching and whining. “Ah,” they thought, “It must be the turkey. He wants to come in and eat with us.” They were half right. It was the turkey—THE ONE IN SPOT’S MOUTH. Yes, ladies and gentleman, when Spot was pushed out the backdoor he put his nose to the air and caught an aroma oh-so-delightful. It was turkey. A beautiful, brown, juicy 15-pounder that someone else had cooked and put on their back deck to cool. Spot, being a hungry dog, marched his little drumsticks over to that yard and just snatched it up like he was at the drive-thru window at KFC.
Most dogs would have sat right there on the deck and chowed down, but not our hero. No, Spot thought it best to take his prize and bring it home to show Mom and Dad. So there he sat proudly on the back steps with a butterball in his mouth and his tail wagging. The Smith’s did the only thing you could do at a moment like this. They treated Spot like a child who just robbed a bank with the sounds of sirens approaching in the distance. They quickly pulled him in the house, drew the shades and locked the door. “This never happened,” they told their guests and the purloined poultry was promptly disposed of. Being fans of the Soprano’s they considered driving the dead bird out into the country for quiet burial with no witnesses, but a hefty bag did nicely instead.
As for the people who put the turkey on the back deck only to have it vanish? Well, much like the family in that movie “A Christmas Story”, I suspect they went out for Chinese food. It would have been funny if there were posters stapled to telephone poles the next day MISSING—ONE TASTY BIRD. If they are reading this now they should know the Smith’s feel terrible about what happened. Not a Thanksgiving goes by that they don’t think about it and laugh. Oh, and feel bad. Yes, they also feel bad. As for Spot, he’s with that big dogcatcher in the sky telling the other mutts about the day he went out for fresh air and landed a 15-pound bird. Just like you right now, the other dogs don’t believe the story is true… but it is.
Don’t you love Thanksgiving? It is our unofficial national holiday. Family and friends coming together to eat great food, watch bad football and share stories like that one. Whether you’re sitting at the kids’ table with the cousins or watching Grandpa fall asleep in the easy chair, Thanksgiving offers a snapshot into who we are and why we love each other. Growing up, I didn’t always see it this way.
Like most kids I called it “turkey day” and treated it as just an excuse to overeat. As you get older and start to lose people from your life you wish you appreciated those dinners more. You look at your Mom’s good china—the one used only on special occasions—and wish for just a moment you could go back to that time and be with those loved ones again. Hearing your Dad’s laugh, kicking your brother under the table, sneaking in the kitchen late at night and stealing the last slice of pumpkin pie. And the leftovers! Is there anything better than turkey and stuffing the next day? I don’t think so.
I don’t know you, my friend, but I hope when that special Thursday rolls around this month you find yourself sitting down with people who love you. Whether it’s two or twenty-two at the table this is the one day to be thankful for the bounty that is your life. I know life can be hard and disappointing, but push the tough stuff away for awhile and take someone’s hand. If you are young and still have your parents, take a moment to stand in the kitchen doorway and just watch them for a while. Trust me that’s a mental snapshot worth all the gold in California. One you’ll take out again and again.
Oh, and if by chance a scraggly looking dog shows up at the backdoor with a turkey in his teeth invite him in. Don’t ask me how it’s possible but I’ll bet you all the sweet potatoes in Scotia that he answers to the name Spot.
John Gray is a Fox23 News anchor and contributing writing at the Troy Record. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org