Retired after 40 years in transport management, Ken has been married for 45 years. He and his wife have 3 children and 2 grandchildren.
ME: Good afternoon, Mr. Turkey. I just wanted to thank you for granting me this interview. I have always wondered what it would be like to be a turkey so close to Thanksgiving.
TURKEY: Why? What are you . . . some sort of barbarian? By the way, you can call me Tom. (A female turkey is called a hen.)1
ME: No. I am a traditionalist. I enjoy celebrating the Thanksgiving tradition. It wasn't me that decided that the turkey should be the center of attention.
TURKEY: Oh, so you like tradition, do you? Are you familiar with the tradition of Thanksgiving?
ME: You bet I am! That's why I wanted to get a chance to talk to you before . . . well, you know.
TURKEY: Yes. Yes. I know. But tell me, what do you know about this favorite holiday?
ME: Rest assured I know all about Thanksgiving. And besides, I'm asking the questions here. So tell me, what does it feel like to be a turkey one month before Thanksgiving?
TURKEY: So you want to know how I feel? Not very good. Do you know that in 2007 the average person in America ate 17½ pounds of turkey?2 Each person ate over 17 pounds of turkey. Why, that's uncivilized! That's a crime! The turkeys you humans produced in 2007 all together weighed 7.9 billion pounds and were valued at $3.7 billion.3 That is inhumane. How merciless.
ME: Well Tom, it is tradition. What if I told you that 97% of Americans surveyed by the National Turkey Federation said that they eat turkey at Thanksgiving?4
TURKEY: Oh sure, I'm not surprised at all. You think I was born yesterday? You guys are making a huge mistake I tell you!
Does This Make Sense?
ME: Making a mistake? How so, Tom?
TURKEY: We have long been a segregated species. We never meant anyone harm. We wish we could live and let live. But it's impossible. Do you know that people that eat turkeys love the breast meat the most? Do you know what happened just because of that little tidbit?
ME: Honestly, I do not.
TURKEY: "Because Americans like white meat so much, turkeys are bred to produce large breasts. Our domesticated turkeys have such large chests that the male, 'tom turkey' is not able to fertilize the eggs of the female, 'hen turkeys' in the natural mating position as God intended. Today, turkey eggs are fertilized by artificial insemination for the hatchery." 5
I ask you, how would you like it not being able to "mate" with your 'hens' for the rest of your natural life?
ME: I have to admit, I wasn't aware of that . . . and no, I wouldn't like that one bit.
TURKEY: Not only that, but remember that cute little expression that was popular back in the 1970s? You know, that's when you called a person who was doing something stupid "a turkey." It meant you were a doofus, a lunkhead. The comparison was to the domestic turkey that has been bred into a condition of profound stupidity.6 That sure isn't very complimentary, and it is surely not at all humane!
ME: I see, you made your point! Let's just move on.
Just Remember This...
TURKEY: Wait! Not so fast!! Did you know that it is not even known for sure how turkeys got our names? Imagine not even knowing how you got your name. "Some say Columbus thought the land he discovered was connected to India which had a large population of peacocks. Columbus thought turkeys were part of the peacock family. He decided to call them "tuka," which is the word for peacock in the language of India." "Others say that the name turkey came from Native Americans who called the birds "firkee," which sounds like turkey." 7 It's just not right. So at best, I don't know why I am called a turkey, cannot naturally mate, have no idea who my parents are, and am mistakenly thought of as the traditional meal to have on Thanksgiving.
ME: You sure like using the word mistake a lot. What do you mean mistakenly?
TURKEY: Your famous Ben Franklin thought the North American wild turkey should be the national bird. You can bet your sweet bippy that if that had happened, turkeys would not be the meal for your Thanksgiving. Besides, the first so-called Thanksgiving was in 1621 and was not on the fourth Thursday of November, and it lasted three days. There were all kinds of food on the menu . . . I'm talking lobster, eel, clams, cod, goose, ducks, swans, venison, seal and yes, even wild turkeys.8 Plus there were tons of vegetables, corn, fruits, nuts, and herbs!
The Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Native Americans shared an autumn harvest feast which is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations. It was actually in keeping with a long tradition of celebrating the harvest and giving thanks for a successful bounty of crops.9 Where does it say kill a turkey? Just show me where!
ME: Uh, I don't think it does, I don't know. I do know that it was President Abraham Lincoln who declared the final Thursday in November as our national day of thanksgiving and Congress finally made Thanksgiving Day an official national holiday in 1941.10 What do you suggest I do about this?
TURKEY: Aw heck, I know it's all about the traditions. In a strange way, it is an honor that we turkeys are held in such high regard in your holiday of thanks for what you have. So, as it has been said, I regret that I have only one life to give for my country.
ME: Thanks, Tom. This has certainly been an informative interview. Any "last words" that you would like to leave with our readers?
TURKEY: Yes. Just please be sure to love one another as you would have them love you. Be grateful for all the things that you have. And when you gather this year around the Thanksgiving Day table, thank God for your bounty and pray for those who are less fortunate than you. Things have been very difficult for so many. Please reach out and help one another. If you do that, my sacrifice will have been worth it.
Johan Smulders from East London, South Africa on November 24, 2016:
Great humour interspersed with interesting facts.
C E Clark from North Texas on November 27, 2013:
What a great article! Lots of information about our tradition, and indeed there were lots of other foods served at the celebration besides turkey. Very informative and voted up! Going to share this with my followers because I think they will enjoy it.