Gobble, gobble, get ready! Turkey Day is almost here!
Now, some of you may know this fast approaching day as Thanksgiving, while others of you may think of it as Shop-Till-You-Drop-Eve, but in Cratersville, where I grew up, this day was the day we celebrated turkeys.
Yes, you read that right, instead of eating turkeys on Turkey Day, we invited them to dinner and threw them a party. The townspeople who had always looked forward to tucking into some gobble, gobble goodness on the turkeys’ big day, blamed me and my sister, Poppy, for this unsavory turn of events.
Perhaps, they were right.
Let me explain.
Cratersville, being an iconville loosely based on the 1950s vision of what the future would be, originally celebrated Turkey Day much as the iconic American holiday it was based on. Thus, the day was spent cooking and watching football on TV which left a majority of denizens in Cratersville somewhat perplexed since we didn’t normally watch 20th-century American football or bake green bean casserole with those little fried onions thingies on top.
What was closer to our hearts, however, were the aspects of the day that centered around family time and getting ready for the upcoming Holly Days. The most holiday hungry among us would put up their Winter Wish trees on this day. This, of course, was after the Turkey Day feast was eaten with great relish right around 4:00 p.m.
Being vegetarians my sister Poppy and I would give a wide berth to the basted centerpiece hogging the center of the table, sticking instead to the turkey free stuffing (made just for us), mashed potatoes with butter and mysterious green bean casserole. One year though, our personal tastes were foisted upon the citizenry at large in a surprisingly unforeseen way.
Our family was getting ready to go over to the “Blues’ house.” It was called the Blues’ house because Blueberry and Bluebell Fields were our best friends in Cratersville and their parents were close friends of our own parents which kind of made us an extended family when we all got together.
Anyway, like I said we were getting ready to go over to the Blues’ house when Poppy and I got into this conversation about turkeys and how nice it would be if people didn’t eat them. We were in the eighth grade—young and idealistic. We should have known, however, that such a wish would not be overlooked by the Magic, especially since we were drawing in our Creation Books at the time.
Everything seemed okay as we got into the starcar and headed towards the town proper.
Anyone who’s been to Cratersville realizes quite quickly that the founders of the town were of two minds when they selected the decorum and style by which the town would be run.
This was why we always found ourselves driving into the “historic” part of town where tree-lined streets and small shops provided tourists with a taste of Norman Rockwell Americana.
Few of us actually lived in the postcard perfect town preferring instead the quirky futuristic Jetson-style buildings on the outskirts of the city.
Poppy and I glanced out the car windows as we zipped over the flat desert land. Water-filled craters bubbled below us like witches cauldrons. We weren’t flying low enough to see if anything was “brewing” below. We glanced at each other and crossed our fingers knowing that if the Magic were to play imp that afternoon, its creation of choice would emerge from one of the gurgling pots of elixir below.
This was only a theory mind you, and since no one else knew about the Magic or the little creatures we created with its help, we couldn’t go about asking for other people’s opinions on the matter.
When we arrived at the Blues’ house, we were still hoping for an uneventful afternoon. We should have known that our hope was misplaced.
As our family stood on the Blues’ front porch, covered dishes in our hands, Poppy and I heard movement behind us. Our eyes went wide as we turned around. Just then, the door opened wide and loud greetings were exchanged.
Poppy, being a quick thinker in tricky circumstances, shoved the foil-wrapped pie she had been holding into my hands and swung into action.
In a blink, Poppy was gone—as was the unexpected guest who had been lurking behind us. The guest did not go willingly.
“Where’s Poppy?” Mrs. Fields asked. My parents turned to stare at me.
Since I wasn’t a well practiced fabulist like my sister (or my dad for that matter), I fumbled for a minute before delivering a wholly improbable line:
“She’s gathering a bouquet for you Mrs. Fields. We were hoping it would be a surprise.” I forced a smile.
My parents raised their eyebrows. Frosty November was not exactly the best time to find a patch of pickable petals, plus nicking flowers from the garden of the hostess (even if they were frost bitten) wasn’t exactly good form.
The minutes passed as everyone waited patiently for my next whopper. Fortunately, my sister came running around the corner of the house to save me from an embarrassing second attempt at outrageous concoctory.
All eyes were on Poppy as she pounded up the creaky wooden stairs to the porch. There were scratches on her hands and a few snags in her satin and velvet dress. Her hair was even more wild looking than normal. No one ventured to ask how she attained such an unkempt look—especially my parents. That would certainly open up a can of worms that was even more unappetizing than the canned cranberry slices that Mrs. Fields always served.
Poppy reached behind my back as she approached, and with a dramatic flourish produced a beautiful autumnal bouquet for Mrs. Fields. I’m not sure if she read my mind or merely had the same idea as me. Anyway, with her far superior presentation skills, the whole flower thing worked.
Mrs. Fields thinking it all an elaborate show produced by my magician father, applauded then gave Poppy a big hug before accepting her much appreciated hostess gift.
Sometimes being the daughters* of a magician had its perks.
Once inside, Poppy and I searched out Blueberry and Bluesy (she hated being called Bluebell) while our parents joined Mr and Mrs. Fields in the kitchen. Poppy quickly filled them in on the situation outside. Bluesy looked out the window to confirm her tale.
“You said you tied it up out by the tree?” she asked.
“Yeah, why?” Poppy asked.
“Because it isn’t there!” Bluesy said.
Poppy and I rushed to the window. Sure enough the rope that Poppy had used to tied up the turkey was lying on the ground as if it had been a mere prop for Houdini.
Blueberry joined us. “Pops, didn’t anyone teach you how to tie a proper knot?”
Poppy didn’t answer for she was already halfway out the door, tracking down her charge.
Blueberry, Bluesy and I followed like the Keystone Cops. We scurried from bush to bush. We looked behind trees. We looked under piles of leaves. We looked here. We looked there. We looked until a loud yell came from the house. “Girls!”
It was our mom.
We ran inside. We found our parents in the dining room. We had a lot of explaining to do for there, perched at the head of a table was a very comical turkey wearing a hat. They** were tucking into the cranberry sauce. They were holding a fork. They were not your ordinary turkey.
“That turkey don’t look quite done,” Grandma Fields observed.
“Flamethrower should crisp it up,” Blueberry said. He had definitely read too many edgy novels.
Poppy, not appreciating the comment, slugged Blueberry in the arm.
“Ouch! Jel, can you get your sister to stop hitting me.”
“No,” I said, “You deserved that one. You can’t eat them. They’re special.”
“It would be more special if we baked it and garnished it. Just say’n.” Blueberry dodged Poppy’s second attack, grabbing her in a bear hug. “Kidding, Pops.”
Fortunately, the turkey was blissfully unaware of Blueberry’s comments.
Mr. and Mrs. Fields decided that the best course of action was retreat. Poppy and I got the look from our parents before they too headed for the kitchen to let us sort out “our” problem.
Grandma Fields taking a different approach decided to take a seat and watch the proceedings. Apparently, comical turkeys held her interest.
After the turkey finished the cranberry sauce it made its way around the table sampling the various appetizers.
“Just warning you,” Blueberry said. “I’m taking it out if it heads towards the kitchen.”
Poppy crossed her arms.
“What do you suggest we do, then?” Blueberry said. “Invite it to stay for dinner?”
Poppy’s eyes lit up. “Hey, that’s a great idea!”
“What, you’re going to eat turkey in front of it?” Blueberry retorted.
“No, we can all go vegetarian!”
“What?!” Blueberry bellowed. “You can’t have Thanksgiving without the main attraction!”
Poppy crossed her arms, pouting.
“Oh, Jeez,” Blueberry mumbled.
Grandma Fields having watched our little interaction, piped up with her two cents. “Now, far be it from me to know what’s really going on here, but I know a dilemma when I see it. You can’t have a turkey at dinner and eat one at the same time.”
Blueberry knew he was on the losing end of whatever was coming.
“I say we let Poppy have her special guest for tonight and we have the main course tomorrow.”
“And if it’s still around tomorrow?” Blueberry said. “Then what?”
“Don’t worry my boy,” Grandma Fields said, “I have just the place for old Tom*** there.” She motioned to the turkey who was starting to look just a bit peaked. That happens to those who venture too many of Mrs. Fields appetizers—especially the cheese balls and strange fruit salads presented in jello molds.
“Grandma,” Bluesy said. “What are you up to?”
“I’m not up to anything my dear,” Grandma Fields said, which was her way of saying that she most definitely was.
By the time dinner arrived, the turkey had eaten itself into the ubiquitous Thanksgiving coma. No one dared wake it.
Grandpa Fields, having been out in the workshop outback, had missed all the earlier drama. He asked with typical Fields’ frankness why no one had cooked the damn turkey. Our explanations only made him look at us as if we had all lost our collective minds.
We ate our turkey-free feast while trying to ignore the turkey and its snoring. When dinner ended, everyone was glad it was over.
Grandpa and Grandma Fields had a brief exchange over the turkey’s fate in the hallway. Grandpa Fields threw up his hands before clapping a hat on his head and huffing out the front door. The turkey was deposited in the backseat of their starcar. It would have been lashed to the luggage rack if Grandpa Fields had had his way.
On the way home, Poppy and I wondered what Grandma Fields was up to. We wouldn’t learn until much later how practical her solutions to magical problems could be.
Our parents, on the other hand, were surprisingly quiet. It’s like we were all part of a dysfunctional family and everyone was ignoring the elephant (um, turkey) in the room. Except our family’s elephant was the presence of a Magic that no one could talk about or acknowledge.
When we went to sleep that night, our thoughts turned towards the upcoming Holly Days. The Turkey Day event was behind us or so we had hoped.
Over the next few days, Poppy and I overheard other reports of strange turkey sightings. None of the turkeys stayed around long enough to be questioned, so no one ever really knew where they had come from or where they were going.
When the next Thanksgiving rolled around, even more turkeys appeared around town. In fact, the turkey sightings would prove to be an annual event.
Over time, many decided that eating turkey at Thanksgiving just wasn’t that appetizing after all, especially with freaky, hat-wearing turkeys always lurking about.
I can’t say if everyone else invited the turkeys to share in their festivities, though I can report that Grandpa and Grandma Fields always brought Tom, and Tom always had a gobble, gobble good time.
—Jellybean Reds, Creator of Little Creatures
*Though I consider myself firmly in the gender non-binary camp now, many of my memories from school are tinged with feminine aspects I don’t wish to negate.
**Since we didn’t formally assign gender to any of our creatures, we used the personal pronoun of “they” to avoid making already awkward scenes even more difficult.
***Mrs. Fields apparently thought that Tom was a proper turkey name despite not knowing its gender identity.