About Turkeu?
Off the Wall, November 27,

I can still hear the words of one family member, “Do you want me to make turkey for Thanksgiving?” And why not? After all, that is the tradition that is the food that is eaten by most Americans come this festive occasion each and every time over the years in these, the United States.

And what has this holiday been all about? Yes, we have the carved bird on the plate, cranberry sauce and more food on the table than most people can eat at one sitting. A matter of fact, after the meal, family and guests will literally drag themselves from the dining room to the place where the big screen television is to watch the all-too-famous football games. However, because of the overload of eating, many fall asleep in the chairs in which they have plopped, only to wake up maybe an hour or so later. I have a feeling many people can identify with that.

But just because it runs the course of mom and the girls fixing dinner, dad carving the bird and all chowing down the harvest set before them, doesn’t mean that’s the way it is everywhere.

I get letters in the mail frequently asking, “Can’t you send $5, $10 or $50 to help feed one person for a week?” This existence of hunger not only goes on in Appalachia, but in our big cities and home towns. Sometimes, I think we’ve become too occupied with making sure we have purchased everything and more for our own tables, forgetting that there are those maybe living nearby who have next to nothing in their cupboard or refrigerators on which to exist.

Sometimes I think it would be an interesting experiment to let the homeless and the hungry walk in the shoes of those whom have more food than they can eat and put the gifted out into the streets or homes of those of little to none and see what the reactions would be.

Would the hungry gorge themselves with turkey and all the trimmings until they were so full they would fall asleep in the living room chairs, or would they eat lightly, just enough to barely fill themselves, going away from that table feeling no bloating at all?

I don’t think that deserves an answer, to be truthful, but it does give one something about which to think.

But here’s another thing one to which one reader made me aware when I wrote a thanksgiving story many years ago. He told me, “Thanksgiving is about family, friends and relatives all coming together and sharing in a meal.” It’s the togetherness more so than the food emphasis. He said, “We should be thankful family can return once every year and gather around a table when we can celebrate a time of togetherness.”

I respect that if that is the way it is for him. But not everyone is as fortunate as that.

Need I tell you my past story in college, when everyone went home and I was stuck in my dorm. I was really excited when the cook invited me to her house for Thanksgiving. When the time came for the “big” dinner, I waiting to be called downstairs for that spectacular meal that I had dreamed up in my mind that I thought our beloved cook would prepare for her family and me, the invited guest.

It was in the course of my waiting did I hear her call out, “I’ll see you later, Paul,” and out the door she went – without me. She had given me a place to crash, so to speak, but absolute little to eat that whole day. I found a box of cornflakes and munched on those, watching football games.

I guess for her, family gathering was just that, and I wasn’t family. Don’t get me wrong, now, I was appreciative I had a bed in which to to sleep and a roof over my head. Sometimes we all imagine things in our mind that we think may happen. I certainly did in this case and fell into my own trap. But what occurred thereafter was what I considered the moral of this story, “Always make the best of every situation.”

But more than anything this Thanksgiving, let us give thanks to our servicemen and women who are protecting our country. If one is home on leave and you see one, please offer your special thanksgiving of their time to protect you and your freedoms.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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