I love this Thanksgiving drawing – rendered by my son when he was about 5 years old. The wattle and feet would make more of a Thanksgiving feast than the not-so-meaty body!
This turkey however seems determined to meet the chopping block with its trusting look and outstretched neck. A perfect illustration of how small children view the world, completely without the cynical measuring adults are prone to. I weigh up how many I can feed – he weighed up how attractive his bird should be.
When I first moved to America, I thought Thanksgiving was a horrible holiday, because we felt isolated. We were an expat family having a regular family meal while everyone in the country was gathering to eat and talk and enjoy their family feasts. Later, we were adopted by friends for the holiday and Thanksgiving turned into a kaleidoscope of convivial feast with massive groups to smaller, outrageously funny meals with close friends – in fact so funny, I came dangerously close to snorting my drink out of my nose several times (thanks Mike and Les). I came to really appreciate this holiday – a gathering and celebration that did not involve materialistic blinkers, but revolved around the idea of giving thanks for food, friends and families.
Thanksgiving with the Hull family at Spring Hills Farm was a riot – crowds of extended family (four generations) and friends gathered for the feast followed by working the weekend selling Christmas trees to regular end of November customers.
Seven of us got to sleep in the old bunk house – which was cosy, as long as someone got about at 3am to feed wood into the old range that was our only source of heat (thank you, Rick). We strongly encouraged just-before-bed bathroom breaks and not much to drink in the run-up, as the nearest bathroom was in another building. Being woken up by a desperate child involved getting togged up in outdoor gear to trudge across the snow, to tiptoe through the slumbering, sleeping-bagged masses and finally get to the bathroom. It was all part of the fun, once you had gotten your sleep-fogged brain around the idea of snow boots and coats over pyjamas.
All of this novelty was surpassed by the two gigantic Belgian cart horses that pulled the wagons of punters up the hills to the Christmas tree plantations. The three girls adored those horses with a passion, as most little girls do at sometime in their lives. They insisted on helping groom them and the mothers got roped in as a result. The sight of the girls who were unable to reach the backs of these horses, brushing away without a care in the world was actually a relatively chilling parental experience. These gentle giants were very well-behaved, but even a full-grown adult would be hard pressed to move them should they accidentally step on a small foot with their serving plate sized hooves. We managed to survive many a grooming session without mangled toes or being accidentally squished between a rump and the stable wall.
We had so much fun that we were back in February, in even more snow and cold, to help with maple syrup season. If you live in easy distance of North East Pennsylvania, the farm is worth a visit for a Christmas tree and maple syrup. Click here for directions.
Memories were built. Friendships were cemented and are cherished.
Thanks was, and is, given.