Blame it on the Pilgrims and Puritans. They feasted in the midst of giving thanks, setting an example for generations to come. Finley Peter Dunne says the Puritans gave thanks for being preserved from the Indians, and we keep the day to give thanks that we are preserved from the Puritans!
Thanksgiving 2011 in Woodstock will be more than special. We have our own mascot for the holiday.
He’s been photographed and nicknamed — Bob, Tom, Thomas, Thomasina, Lurkey the Turkey — and who knows what else. He’s made the local and national TV news.
He’s been in the local and Atlanta papers. He has his own Facebook page, and a simple Google will bring up candid photos and comments, information and misinformation. One person remembered there were two turkeys a couple of years ago at the library. I have to wonder which day he was there.
I saw 10 or 12 or more at a time, many times, and watched as they chased folks in the parking lot. But those turkeys disappeared.
Today, all of Woodstock is hoping this one bird will be around a bit longer. He seems to prefer the human version of turkeys to his own kin. He has managed to dodge the traffic, probably because of his chosen habitat near a traffic signal and still, just barely, in the 25 MPH speed zone. (Funny how folks don’t mind slowing down or stopping for this turkey bird, but they can’t observe the pedestrian crosswalks where it’s illegal not to stop for turkey people!)
His popularity is evidenced by letters to the editor and postings online, conversations at lunch, at the office water cooler, phone calls and “sightings” accompanied by paparazzi. He seems to have no fear. Ben Franklin, in a letter to his daughter, called the turkey a “bird of courage.”
He was bemoaning the fact that the bald eagle had been chosen as the National Bird. He describes the eagle as “a bird of bad moral character.”
I’m with Ben, but both of us are too late. Woodstock should choose a Municipal Bird since we aren’t an independent nation. Someone should build a roost for Tom. Surely the city would issue a building permit for a small one-turkey shelter. And the present sign proclaiming Tom’s Domain could be placed there more prominently. The residents of Serenade have been calling him their official mascot for months now. They claim him as their own, even though he now roams a bigger territory. He’s one more tough bird.
My grandmother tried to raise turkeys once. She was a farmer at heart. She loved the earth and what she could coax from it. She loved cows and horses and chickens, and she loved the work that went with all that. She was the answer to the age-old question, “Why does a chicken cross the road?”
A smart chicken crossed the road to get away from my Grandma who would wring its neck and cook up chicken and dumplings for supper.
But those turkeys outsmarted her, to their own detriment. She never had success. They were too dumb to get in out of the rain, as I recall her story. They drowned with their heads held high watching the rain fall.
Here I have used my space to ramble on and on about a bird when I should have been making a list of all God’s many blessings, which wouldn’t be possible anyway in the space allotted to me. So I’ll just wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving.
May your store-bought turkey and all the home-cooked trimmings bring you pleasure. But most of all, may your gratitude be sincere, and may your day be filled with the people you love, and the people who love you, and may your memories of the day linger until you meet together again.
Juanita Hughes is Woodstock’s official historian and former director of the Woodstock Public Library.