Grandma’s house was always a busy place for the holidays.
I remember seeing more than the relatives that were busy in the kitchen preparing our Thanksgiving Day dinner. I knew to keep still and quiet or I’d be rushed out of the kitchen and maybe out of the house. Sometimes that wasn’t so bad when the wind wasn’t blowing or it wasn’t raining.
I did like going to the train depot to see people coming and going. It was much busier than Grandma’s kitchen.
With my dad in charge of us, he’d always find something for us to eat to keep us happy and the hunger pains away.
Sometimes we’d go to pick up a relative or just go for the activity of the place.
My dad’s brother, John, and his Uncle Al would sometimes join us. Uncle Al always had stories to tell. The problem with Uncle Al’s stories was that you never knew when the truth spun off into fantasy. Nevertheless, they were entertaining.
In those days, the stores were closed on Thanksgiving Day.
You had to be prepared. And you had to be prepared in case a relative didn’t bring what they promised. There was, however, a corner market that was run by an elderly couple who took pity on the forgetful Thanksgiving Day non-planners and were opened from 6 AM to noon. Of course, we paid them a visit.
Uncle John had Grandma’s list. We were getting ready to check out when I saw my Great-Grandma. I knew Grandma forgot something on the list she gave Uncle John. I told my dad we needed more yams, butter, coffee, brown sugar and some spices. My father didn’t hesitate to follow me as I followed Great-Grandma to collect some necessary items. Uncle John soon discovered that I had a second sense about such things. This saved us a second trip to the little market. He’d sometimes add a few items for good measure.
While we were waiting for the turkey to be done, Uncle Al told us a story about the year he decided to get the family turkey.
“Well, being the youngest, I had to come up with something special to outdo my older brothers,” Uncle Al began. “I listened very carefully to their Thanksgiving plans and those of my sisters. Not one of them mentioned the turkey. So I announced one day at breakfast that I’d provide the turkey for Thanksgiving Day.
“There were doubts that I could do such a thing, but no one stopped me from my grand gesture.
“I had worked out a deal months before with my friend Leo and this guy we met at the train station. He had turkeys coming in and needed them delivered to the various butcher shops in town.
“Leo’s father had a wagon we could use. We were excited and met the man after school at the depot. The only problem we had was that Leo’s father met us there and started haggling about the price we’d be paid.
“I stood back. I told the guy I’d deliver the turkeys at the agreed upon price. Before I knew what was happening, one of the cages with the live turkeys inside opened. There were turkeys running all over the place. Then another cage opened and then a third. The man yelled, ‘Catch ’em!’
“I took off at a dead run after one, then one came behind me and I thought I’d be able to catch it. I was running all over the place. I finally caught one and held on for dear life. I got pecked a time or two, but I kept my grip. This was going to be our Thanksgiving dinner.
“I was walking down the dirt road for home. I was getting tired. That turkey was heavy.
“‘What do you have there, Al?'” my eldest brother Fred asked.
“‘Our Thanksgiving turkey,'” I answered proudly.
“My brothers helped me up in the old truck with the turkey. They tied up the turkey so I could rest my arms.
“When we got home, my brothers made a pen for the turkey.
“Well, the closer we got to Thanksgiving, I got attached to that old turkey. First mistake, don’t name your food. Second mistake, don’t get attached to your food. Third mistake, have a plan as to how to make a turkey dinner. I’d never killed and plucked a turkey before. I was sure Mom or one of my brothers would volunteer.
“As it turned out, with all the turkeys that were let loose at the train depot, some were still running loose. Fred brought one home. He did the deed and we had turkey for Thanksgiving. But my sisters were eyeing Tom in the cage and thinking he would be just right for Christmas dinner.”
I saw Great-Grandma smiling at her youngest son. I got the impression this was the first time Uncle Al told a story as it actually happened, but I did wonder and had to ask, “Did you eat Tom for Christmas?”
I had to wait until Christmas for Uncle Al to continue his story.
©Sharon Harvey 11/2014