What Does the Turkey Say?
A very complicated Thanksgiving dinner
Sara Alonzi FEATURES EDITOR
What comes to your mind when you hear the word “Thanksgiving”? Is it the extra day off school? The turkey feast? Spending time relaxing at home with family and friends? If you find that all three immediately come to mind, then I would have to agree. Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday for spending time with others and simply thanking the universe for giving you all the things that you are blessed with.
A typical Thanksgiving celebration in my family is a heartwarming one. My whole Italian family (uncles, aunts, cousins, family friends, and more) join us at my Nonno’s house for a delicious Italian Thanksgiving feast. Now imagine a whole dining table that perfectly seats 12 people. Now imagine that table absolutely covered with food. All the Italian dishes that you could ever imagine! Now picture my Nonno with his old, worn-down apron, grabbing the turkey out of the oven and shuffling over to the table and putting down the plate with a big thump, saying, “Guarda questo tacchino! Gesù deve averlo bennedetto!” (Translation: “Look at this turkey! Jesus must have blessed him!”)
As everyone gives their approval to my grandfather with shouts of joy and delight, I sit there and think, “How in the world did Jesus bless this turkey if it’s waiting to be eaten?” But I don’t have time to protest the inhumane cruelty of killing some poor turkey who was probably enjoying its turkey life, prancing about the wilderness in complete freedom. Before I know it, the turkey is on my plate. My Nonno begins to relay the amount of money spent on said turkey at the grocery store and, if I don’t eat my portion, I am doing a disservice to him as a granddaughter but also to Jesus who has (apparently) blessed this turkey. Not to mention I will be wasting his well-earned money, as he reminds me with a “hey-don’t-you-know-the-government-doesn’t-give-me-enough-pension?”
In that moment, I am very concerned with the possibility that my grandfather might: A) Bring me to church to stand in front of the gigantic statue of Jesus and explain to him why I wasn’t eating my “delicious” dinner, B) Relay the story to me about how in Italy during World War II he didn’t have the option of eating anything other than bread and water, or worse, C) Both those options at the same time.
Alas, it was time for me to admit defeat. How do you argue with your old Italian grandpa worried about his pension or lack thereof (according to him) and all the horror stories of World War II? So, I do the only thing left for me to do: I begin to “gobble gobble” down my expensive-pension, Jesus-blessed turkey as my grandfather watches me approvingly.
Now before the vegans and animal cruelty people begin to berate me, I would like to once again reiterate, I am on your side! But do you have any idea what it is like to have your Italian grandfather stare you down from the head of the table watching you finish your food? Let me give you a hint: Remember that scene in The Godfather when Don Corleone puts a horse’s head in his enemy’s bed after he refused his request? Look, I’m not explicitly saying that exact same scenario will happen to me. All I’m saying is that it might. And that my friends, is enough.
And so, I eat my turkey without complaint. I watch my Nonno’s face light up as I manage to shoot him a smile and pat my stomach in satisfaction. My grandfather turns to his next victim, my sister, and I sigh in relief to know that I have not disgraced my family (yet). After the lectures subside, my grandfather raises his glass of wine, smiles and says, “Felice ringraziamento! Buon appetito!” Everyone yells out, “Buon appetito!,” including me. I shake my head in defeat whilst staring down at my plate full of (expensive-pension) food. The least I can do is thank my grandfather for the dinner and enjoy the meal after all his hard work purchasing and preparing it, right? It almost makes my nightmare that night of Jesus holding a turkey while they both yell about Canada’s pension policies worth it!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Buon appetito!