My daughter bought a 25-pound turkey for our family's Thanksgiving dinner today. I can't help but remember a much larger turkey from my childhood. His name was Tom.
Tom was white (Just like the turkey President Bush pardoned this year). He strutted around our farm like he owned the place. And I rode around on his back like he was my pony. He didn't like it all that much, but for a few wild moments, he humored me. One year we were preparing for Thanksgiving dinner and I heard my father and my stepmother discussing the main entree` on the menu. I begged my father, "Not Tom!"
I began to beg daddy to go visit Uncle Milton so I could visit Tom. It just never was a "good time"---either Uncle Milton wasn't home, or daddy was too busy that day. It was years before I ever got to go to Uncle Milton's. It wasn't till I was grown with children of my own, and had roasted many turkeys for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners that I thought of asking my father what happened to Tom. As I recall, I was visiting daddy in the nursing home when I popped the question. "Daddy, do you remember that old white turkey I use to ride on when we lived at Porter's Inn?"
"Sure do." He smiled as if he recalled the fun we had with him, then he frowned. "It's a wonder he didn't flog you with his claws."
"Do you remember giving him to Uncle Milton?" He nodded. "I never really understood why you gave him to Uncle Milton."
"You kids weren't about to let me kill him. So I gave him to Milton and they ate him for Christmas dinner that year."
With all the adult rationale I could muster, I sat reasoning that this is what one does with a turkey. You don't breed turkeys, raise turkeys and then keep them as pets. There is a purpose for turkeys. They are to be killed, plucked, cleaned, stuffed and roasted. That is the way of things in the life of a turkey.
Yet, with all that rationale percolating within my forehead, I still couldn't escape the stupor of mourning within my heart. All those years, I figured my cousins were playing with Tom and at some point Tom had died a natural death. I was a bit ashamed of the annoyance and grudges I'd held against my cousins during my childhood for the fun they had with Tom, that I'd been denied.
Today, I realize that daddy gave old Tom away rather than break our hearts and kill him for Thanksgiving dinner. He gave Tom away to protect us from the very probable flogging we might get from taunting and playing with Tom. We were children. We could not see what Daddy could see as an adult.
Today as I sit down to enjoy our Thanksgiving meal, I cannot help but recall the heartaches my Father in heaven has tried to protect me from facing. I cannot begin to count the times I've been protected from a probable disaster in my life. Even after nearly 60 years of adult experiences and wisdom beneath my grey-haired scalp, my Father in heaven sees what I cannot see as His child. And what I don't understand today, I can trust in Him to control--even when I don't like what unfolds in my present situation. For if my earthly father cares enough to give me bread instead of stones, wouldn't my heavenly Father care far more? I think so. In fact, I know so. selahV
[copyrighted, SelahV Today, 2007]