The Unifying Turkey

Jokes are made about the difficult family interactions on Thanksgiving. The stock character is the uncle with politically incorrect views. I am sure that many versions of this person exist, but I have also known many people with crazy leftist conspiratorial views. Don’t uncles with such baseless opinions also go to Thanksgiving dinners? 

However, even though there may be arguments over the table, Thanksgiving is truly one of our most unifying days. Not everyone likes it, but almost every American, no matter their politics, their religion, their ethnic origins, or their age, eats, or in some way deals, with turkey on the fourth Thursday in November. Over 45 million turkeys are consumed then, which must mean that the majority of the country has the bird. Some French cook said something about you are what you eat. You are an American when you eat turkey on Thanksgiving.

Of course, not everyone does. It may surprise you, but sometimes vegans or vegetarians are regarded as Americans, and they still celebrate the holiday. Asked what they eat, they might reply, “Instead of turkey, I am making a mushroom Wellington.” Small families might find that a turkey is too large and say that instead of turkey they will have a roast duck or a roast chicken. I have known some people who say that they can’t abide turkey and say that they will have salmon or roast pork instead of turkey. (The two examples that come readily to mind, however, were a Mexican American who planned to return to his birthplace after saving some money and a single man born in Germany.) The point is that even the minority who don’t eat turkey say what they will eat instead of turkey. Just as others deal with turkey by considering wet brining, dry brining, no brining, frozen, heritage, low heat, high heat, dark meat, white meat, wings, and drumsticks, the minority who do not eat it, deal with turkey on Thanksgiving. Can you give any other explanation for a tofu turkey?

We should give thanks for the unifying turkey, just as we should give thanks for anything that helps unify America. After all, Thanksgiving should not only be a day of feasting but also a time for giving thanks. After the onslaught of Covid, we give thanks for what the Puritans gave thanks for: that they (with the help of the original Americans) survived. In addition, I am going to give thanks that America has mostly, or at least partially, survived the Puritans.

I expect to be recovering on Friday and will take time off. The blog will be back next Monday.