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Proper Care and Feeding of Turkeys

By Justine Dorton

Hey, it’s November. Time to pull out the gratitude talks! It’s time to talk about gratitude, have lessons about gratitude, and send cards about gratitude. It’s time to blog about gratitude! It’s time to offer thanks for the beautiful fall weather, the football season, our sweater collection, and the very large bird we’ve sent to his death for our big family shindig.

I used to really hate Thanksgiving. I’d always been so put off by it all. Shouldn’t I be grateful all year long? What’s with this quasi-compulsory gratitude business? You know everyone is just talking about gratitude because that’s what you do at Thanksgiving”¦ And so my thoughts would go. The problem with these thoughts, of course, is that I’m not grateful all year long. Oh, sure, I should be. I know that fully well enough. Maybe if I were grateful all year, the Thanksgiving lessons and treatises wouldn’t have fallen so heavily on my sour ears.

But a number of years ago, I had a change of heart. The turkey lay in a beautiful platter on our table. Spread out about the table was a bountiful spread of food. Around my table were so many of the people I love. I stared at the table, at that dang dead bird sitting there on the platter. I hadn’t burned it. I hadn’t burned it! I was so”¦well”¦ grateful! And as my view expanded to include my family, the fire in the fireplace, the warm, soft music in the background, the snow falling outside, I was filled with a sense of wholeness and completeness that I hadn’t ever felt in such strength before. I was completely and wholly filled with gratitude. I had everything that was important to me all in one place (family, mashed potatoes, snow”¦ not necessarily in that order).

I need Thanksgiving! I hollered (in my head, I hollered. I would have been inappropriate to holler during the prayer).

I needed Thanksgiving. What gives with that?

I just hate it when I’m wrong! I hate it when I’m the one being the turkey. There I was, all stuffed full of empty, buttery calories. Oh, sure, I might have tasted good, but was my attitude really healthy? I was completely crammed with artery clogging, self-righteous smugness. Up until that very moment at the table, I was positive I was right. I just knew that my attitude of contempt was the proper course of action.

But, of course, the Lord was so patient with me. He knew when the moment was right to soften me up. He knew that he should make it snow that day. He knew the kids would be darling and well behaved. He knew. So He sent me the little message that changed it all. He sent me gratitude.

Never before had I felt so overwhelmed with thanks for everything in my life ”“ but I’ve felt it many times since. And now Thanksgiving always reminds me that I have blessings and love beyond measure. And who couldn’t use a little reminder of that once in a while?
And, although I might not be the turkey anymore when it comes to Thanksgiving, I am still, and will always be, quite soft and buttery inside (just in case you were worried).

About Justine Dorton

Justine is a mother to five children, and has a husband lodged somewhere (probably in the den). She is not very fond of speaking of herself in third person.

11 thoughts on “Proper Care and Feeding of Turkeys”

  1. I was trying so hard to not be the first to post today. I promise I don't hover at the computer all morning/day like an eagle, ready to pounce on my prey and get the first bite!

    But here I am, back from shopping, checking in with the world, and LOVING your post! Funny, I didn't check to see who wrote it before I started reading. Part way through, I thought, "This must be Justine."

    Now I am going to go think about some of my turkey-ish attitudes.

    I love your style!

  2. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I had an adult experience when I learned the value of gratitude too, and even though it didn't involve Thanksgiving, I love the opportunity to remember. Thanks for a fun post!

  3. I think that Remembering might be one of the gifts of the Spirit. No matter how well intentioned we are, the natural man just doesn't always remember/have gratitude the way we should. I also love Thanksgiving.

    This year will be the first time our small family hasn't been with other family for Thanksgiving. I've never made a turkey before. I'm hoping the solitude will give me the chance to be even more grateful than I usually am.

  4. In both my family and my husband's family, we don't do the "say what you're grateful for" thing. In some ways I wish we did, but in another way I can see your original perspective, people expressing gratitude because that's what you do on that day. Instead, I try to find a quiet moment alone to let myself be filled with gratitude. (Generally that happens at about 1:30 in the morning, when everyone's sleeping and I'm doing something like making dough for rolls or simmering cranberries.)

    Kristen, your idea about remembering being a gift of the spirit is, I think, so true. In one of Neal A. Maxwell's talks, he says that the holy ghost preaches to us through the pulpit of memory and I have found that to be true in my life.

  5. Kristin, you are so inspired! I do think gratitude is a gift, and even that feeling of gratitude is something that we should be grateful for, as it is from the Lord.

    Good luck with the big bird this Thanksgiving. It's not as hard as it looks.

    Thanksgiving is now one of my favorite times of year, too. I love it, and am grateful for my advancing years that has given me the perspective to see it.

  6. After living for 5 years abroad and having tiny versions of Thanksgiving, I am really thankful for the tradition of Thanksgiving. It is a beautiful one.

    I loved this post. It made me laugh!

  7. Justine, you are so good at writing transcendent moments, like that epiphany of gratitude. It's moving and wise and not cheesy.

    I need Thanksgiving too. I need to remember that all the things I think I'm entitled to are really gifts.

  8. This year my wife decided to have a dry run thanksgiving day to test out her recipes. We soaked the bird in a brine solution she got at William Sonoma it really kept it moist. OMG, the turkey was so good and I get to do it again in a few days!


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