Thanksgiving from a bird’s eye view is full of mixed emotions. That is, of course, if turkeys even have emotions. The journey from the barnyard or poultry factory to the local grocery store is a long and winding road for the traditional main course. At the time of birth, the young poults peck their way out of the hard eggshell, emerge and flop to the ground. The baby turkeys are scooped up, sorted by sex and divided into separate camps. The males, familiarly called toms, are the prized pick of the batch, as their sisters and female cousins, the hens, are carted off to their own headquarters.
Thanksgiving depends on the controlled growth and good behavior of the young toms. In the arena of all males, each tom struts and boasts to be the best. Little do they know they are required to be the best, the tastiest and the juiciest when the time comes. Their living conditions are usually very crowded and the highlight of their existence is to find access to food and clean water.
At around five to six months old, the toms are gathered as they gobble, run and try to hide. Their final day has arrived, as their long lost female relatives prepare to lay eggs. The journey to the execution table starts by being packed into crates and trucked far away from their only home.
The turkeys have done their duty and have grown to a healthy, sizeable weight, perfect for a Thanksgiving Day feast. The easy part is over for the turkey, but from a bird’s eye view the real terror is just beginning. It is a quick process to have their heads and feet chopped off. They most likely are turned at an angle as not to witness their friend’s death.
Again, who even knows if the turkey has any emotions to care. The discarded parts are thrown into a type of compost also consisting of poultry poop to eventually breakdown and dissolve. It is not known if a worker has ever taken a head or two to mount for display in their den or basement, however.
The treasured bird of the Thanksgiving Day festivities is now ready for further dissection. The headless creature is stripped of its feathers and given a hot bath. The innards are ripped out of both ends and the neck is severed. Special parts, such as the heart, liver and gizzard are saved in a little bag, as some people love giblet gravy over mashed potatoes at their Thanksgiving meal.
The processing of the bird is done under clean, sanitary conditions, but to be on the safe side, turkeys should be fully cooked to an inside temperature of 165 degrees. Turkeys on death row wait while watching their buddies get dressed up in plastic suits adorned with a netting trim. The birds take a ride on a conveyor belt, sit next to each other in boxes and settle into traveling down the road in a refrigerated truck. If dead birds could think, they would surely know how cold it is as they freeze beyond the death that took their first life.
Arrival to a warehouse is greeted with personal escorts riding forklifts. When their number is called, the turkeys fulfill the order to the next stop, the grocery store. Now they take center stage in a lovely display, as patrons gawk and choose the bird that is right for them. It is a bonding moment as the customer proudly boasts about finding a turkey. Maybe not as exciting as finding the tree for Christmas, but ranking right up there in holiday chores.
After being squished into plastic grocery bags full of stuffing mix, cranberries, pickles and cans of pumpkin, the frozen turkey is tossed into the trunk of a car. Finally at its new home, it can relax a bit before being thawed in a bath of cool sink water or the fridge. It is almost show time as the star is prepared for the great event. Stripped again, this time from the binding plastic suit, the bird is bathed, patted down, oiled and sprinkled with flavored powders. The pampered bird is now ready for a sauna and tanning session.
Depending on how plump the turkey is, time in the hotbox can vary. The moment of truth has arrived. A short nap to collect its thoughts and pose for pictures, the celebrity of the day makes his debut. The oohs and aahs from the family seem to make it all worthwhile. The turkey has served its purpose in life and has made people very happy. Every morsel of the turkey is either consumed at the feast, made into sandwiches while watching the big game or shredded to be used in casseroles. Many times the carcass is still full of tasty meat and is boiled down for soup.
In the end, from the bird’s eye view, he has lived a productive life, full of adventure, travel and fulfillment. The price he paid was well worth the journey as he is revered among Americans as their favorite holiday bird. Out ranking the fancy pheasant, the dashing duck or the greasy goose, the turkey is both tasty and satisfying to the people who give thanks on this special day. Happy Thanksgiving!
Satire by: Roanne H. FitzGibbon