The holidays are a perfect time for storytelling. Family gathered, lounging about with full bellies. A member of the Yahoo group Lifewritersforum posted an idea for a family game involving family stories. Each person writes on a small scrap of paper a hint about a story they know about someone in the family (ex. the giant spider in England, or she broke her arm flying off the swings). Put the papers in a container and take turns drawing them out and reading them. Guess who the story is about, that person then tells their story – with help if needed. This works best with larger gatherings, especially intergenerational or blended families.
I’ve been writing down the childhood stories of an 88-year-old friend who was orphaned at age 13. She, along with her then 16-year-old brother, somehow took care of their house and three little brothers during the Depression. Following is a story she told me, perfect for Thanksgiving:
One day in November, the theater had a raffle for a turkey. I took the boys to a movie and afterwards the manager came out to the front of the stage and announced that I had won the turkey! He said to go around the back to pick it up. When I got to the back of the theater, there was a box with a screen on top, and inside was a live turkey. What was I going to do with a live turkey?!
The manager said he couldn’t help me carry the turkey home, but he would tie up its legs. He said I could hold the turkey upside down by the legs and it would flap its wings, but I could carry it home that way. Oh, it squawked and flapped! We had to go across a stream on my way home. There were two logs laid across that stream and I had to balance across them with that turkey. Somehow I made it and got home all right. We tied the turkey by its leg to a post and it stayed there a couple days, not very happy. We didn’t really know what to do with it. Then my older brother got out the ax to kill it for Thanksgiving dinner, but every time he raised that axe the turkey cried, “Look out, look out!” It was like it was talking! “Look out, look out!” It kept saying that every time he raised the axe. “Look out, look out!” We were so upset. My brother just couldn’t kill it. I was crying. My little brothers were crying, “Let’s don’t eat turkey!”
Our neighbor next door came over to see what all the noise was about. He took care of it. He told us to go away because he didn’t want us to see what he was going to do. His wife made most of the Thanksgiving dinner for us and brought it over. My littlest brother was very upset about that turkey so I had to explain to him how God made turkeys and chickens for us to eat. He didn’t care about that and refused to eat the turkey. I ate some, but it bothered me to think of the poor thing. It was a Thanksgiving I’ll never forget.
(not all turkeys